THE JACKSON COUNTY WAR: HOW THE KU KLUX KLAN WON DEMOCRATIC POWER IN FLORIDA BY MURDERING 150+ REPUBLICANS
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Jackson County was created by the Florida Territorial Council in 1822 out of Escambia County, along with Duval County out of St. Johns County, making them the third
and fourth counties in the Territory. The county was named for Andrew Jackson, who had served as Florida's first military governor for six months in 1821. Jackson
County originally extended from the Choctawhatchee River on the west to the Suwannee River on the east. The county had been reduced close to its present
boundaries by 1840 through the creation of new counties from its original territory. Minor adjustments to the county boundaries continued through most of the 19th
There were no towns in Jackson County when it was formed. The first county court met at what was called "Robinson's Big Spring" (later called Blue Springs) in 1822
and then at the "Big Spring of the Choctawhatchee" in 1823. The following year the county court met at "Chipola Settlement" which is also known as Waddell's Mill Pond.
Marianna became the county seat, but not without controversy. It was founded by Robert Beveridge, a native of Scotland, in September 1827. The first town
established in Jackson County was Webbville in January 1827. Webbville, a community of land squatters, was located 9 miles (14 km) northwest of present day
Marianna and was designated as the county seat. Webbville thrived until 1828 when Beveridge and other Marianna settlers went to Tallahassee and enticed the
Florida Legislature with free land, construction of a courthouse, a public square and $500 to purchase a quarter section of land to be sold at public auction as a
way to finance the new government, if the county seat was moved to Marianna.
Beveridge and his supporters succeeded and Marianna became the county seat of the county justice and civil authority, even though it was never officially proclaimed
the county seat. Marianna began to grow and prosper when the county government moved into the new courthouse in 1829. Webbville's prominent citizens moved to
Marianna and the L&N Railroad decided to bypass the town. Webbville does not exist today.
From 1869-71, Jackson County was the center of a low-level guerrilla war known as the Jackson County War. Members of the Ku Klux Klan consisting of Confederate
Army veterans assassinated over 150 Republican Party officials and prominent African-Americans as part of a successful campaign to retain white Democratic power.
Book Link The Jackson County War
Reconstruction and Resistance in Post-Civil War Florida
by Daniel R. Weinfeld
The Jackson County War offers original conclusions explaining why Jackson County became the bloodiest region in Reconstruction Florida and is the first book-length
treatment of the subject.
From early 1869 through the end of 1871, citizens of Jackson County, Florida, slaughtered their neighbors by the score. The nearly threeyear frenzy of bloodshed
became known as the Jackson County War. The killings, close to one hundred and by some estimates twice that number, brought Jackson County the notoriety
of being the most violent county in Florida during the Reconstruction era. Daniel R. Weinfeld has made a thorough investigation of contemporary accounts. He adds an
assessment of recently discovered information, and presents a critical evaluation of the standard secondary sources.
The Jackson County War focuses on the role of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the emergence of white “Regulators,” and the development of African American political
consciousness and leadership. It follows the community’s descent after the Civil War into disorder punctuated by furious outbursts of violence until the county settled
into uneasy stability seven years later. The Jackson County War emerges as an emblem of all that could and did go wrong in the uneasy years after Appomattox and
that left a residue of hatred and fear that endured for generations.
Daniel R. Weinfeld is a practicing attorney in New York City. He is the author of articles on the Reconstruction era that have appeared in the Florida Historical Quarterly
and Southern Jewish History.
“Researched in-depth and written in an articulate, straightforward manner, The Jackson County War by far represents the single best available source for information
on crucial events of Florida’s Reconstruction experience as well as a provocative analysis of the realities of southern post–Civil War violence and the dynamics of
partisan expression as an underlying factor in molding southern historiography.”—Canter Brown Jr., author of Florida’s Black Public Officials, 1867−1924
An Excerpt: By 1920, millions of board feet of lumber and thousands of barrels of turpentine and rosin had been shipped from Jackson County.
Note by R.Straley: This was during the "convict leasing program" that was in effect. Not only men but boys as young as 13-14 were sent to these camps. The level of
brutality was severe. The boys were expected to do a man's work and if they didn't they were whipped where they fell:
The Death of Girrard H. Blake & Torture of Oscar Anderson
Revelations of abuses committed on juveniles in county convict camps continued to appear in the Florida Times Union and described in letters sent to the Governor.
One report stated a sixteen-year-old white boy from Georgia named Girrard H. Brake, charged with vagrancy, received a sixty-day sentence in the Alachua County jail.
The County authorities included Brake in a lease to a phosphate concern operating at Dutton. Witnesses reported that two men held Brake down while the owner of the
camp applied the strap. The boy died as the result of the beating. Five physicians performed autopsies and they all attributed his death to torture.
Ex-convict W. F. Brown explained that a young prisoner named Oscar Anderson "was a docile boy, obedient to every order, and tried to do the tasks assigned to him
as manfully as he could." Brown reported that the boy had orders to collect fifty-two buckets of turpentine every day, the same as required of an adult man, but the boy
could not do it. "I saw them beat Oscar Anderson each and every day upon the alleged ground that he had not completed his allotted task. They beat him with a piece
of leather, a strap, and they beat him until he was raw on the back." Brown explained the productivity quota doubled what free laborers did in a day.
"The boys are given the same tasks as the men, and are obliged to work sick or well. I have seen them fall over in the fields and afterwards whipped because they fell."
It was in one of these camps (Putman Lumber Company) that Martin Tabert, a young man of 22 was whipped to death: http://thewhitehouseboysonline.com/HISTORY-
FROM THE JACKSON COUNTY WAR BLOG
CHRONICLE OF JACKSON COUNTY, FL RACIAL VIOLENCE, PART IV: 1868
A good read on this subject.