Jackson County History

Established August 12, 1822, Jackson County is Florida’s third oldest county. Jackson County was created by an act of the Territorial Legislature while meeting at Fifteen Mile House near Pensacola. The county was originally stretched from the Choctawhatchee River to the Suwanee River, and from Alabama and Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico.

After a bitter and extended controversy, between the two towns of Marianna and Webbville, Marianna became the permanent county seat of government in 1829. Marianna was founded in 1827 by Robert and Anna Maria Beveridge who purchased three eighty acre tracts of land on a beautiful bluff along the Chipola River. A group of associates donated land and built the first of the four courthouses which were to eventually stand on the same square. Marianna’s rival town in controversy over location of the county seat, Webbville, located about nine miles northwest of Marianna has long since passed from existence.

Hardy pioneers poured into the rich Chipola Country, blazing their way through a virtual wilderness and establishing their homes. Eventually, and typical of the deep south, cotton became “king” and numerous large plantations thrived on this “fleecy” cotton economy. Tough their kingdom was eventually crushed by war and the changes it brought, they established rich family strains and a heritage that would not be blotted out.

After statehood in 1845, there came secession and the War Between the States. Jackson County’s John Milton served as Governor of Confederate Florida. One of the most tragic events in the county’s history occurred on September 27, 1864, when Marianna was raided by a band of Federals from the Union headquarters in Pensacola. A valiant but pathetically small group of older and younger citizens attempted to defend the town and a fierce battle ensued, primarily within the boundary of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The church was burned, the community was looted and plundered, and homes countermanded, and miraculously Marianna escaped destruction. The invaders hastily retreated when word was received that Confederate aid was approaching.

Recovery ushered the people into the twentieth century and a return to prosperity. Though growth was never spectacular, Jackson County’s communities have been stable, the economy largely based upon agriculture.