Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bellamy Bridge, Part Five

This is part five of a continuing series on Florida's ghost of Bellamy Bridge legend. To read the other posts first, please scroll down the page.
This faded photograph shows the old Bellamy Mansion in Marianna. This was the home that Dr. Samuel Bellamy supposedly built for his young bridge, Elizabeth. According to legend he refused to live in the house following her death and it remained silent for many years.
In truth, the house was not built until after Elizabeth died. Samuel, as legend holds, did go through a period of mourning and turned to alcohol in his despair, but his productive life did not end with the death of his young wife. He served as a delegate from Jackson County at the 1838 Florida Constitutional Convention in St. Joseph and was an officer with the Union Bank.
Bank records indicate that he borrowed the money to build the magnificent home nine months after Elizabeth's death. It was one of the largest homes in Northwest Florida and was built at a time when land speculation was booming in Florida and the Union Bank was extending loans worth much more than the security pledged by the borrowers.
The bubble burst during the early 1840s and Samuel Bellamy, like many other investors, lost his fortune. Scrambling to try to save what he could, he made a questionable deal with his brother. Edward took over all of Samuel's property, including Rock Cave Plantation, to shelter it from seizure in legal actions. This eventually led to a dispute between the two brothers that went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.
Samuel's life rapidly deteriorated. He suffered from depression and battled alcoholism for the rest of his days. In 1853, he committed suicide by slashing his own throat with a razor at Chattahoochee Landing.
When our series continues, we will explore how the tragic true stories of Samuel and Elizabeth Bellamy evolved into one of Florida's best known ghost stories.

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