Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bellamy Bridge, Part One

As promised, I'm beginning today a series of posts telling the true story behind Jackson County's popular Bellamy Bridge ghost legend.

If you grew up anywhere near Two Egg (or pretty much anywhere else in Jackson County) you have probably heard at least some version of the story. It is one of Florida's oldest and favorite ghost stories.

Although there are several versions, the most common holds that the area around Bellamy Bridge, an old iron-frame bridge spanning the Chipola River a few miles north of Marianna and a few miles west of Two Egg, is haunted by the restless spirit of a young woman named Elizabeth Jane Bellamy.

As the story goes, Elizabeth was the bride of Dr. Samuel C. Bellamy, a prominent member of early Jackson County society. He built a beautiful new home for her in Marianna and the wedding was to be the social event of the season. Guests traveled for weeks to come and gifts arrived from as far away as Europe. The wedding came off beautifully, but the reception ended in unspeakable horror.

According to one version of the legend, Elizabeth was dancing with her husband and came into contact either with an open fire or a candle. Another version says she was so exhausted from dancing that she sank into a comfortable chair and unwittingly touched her gown to a burning candle. Regardless of story, the result was horrible. Her beautiful gown burst into flame. Elizabeth, as the story continues, rushed from the beautiful new mansion engulfed in flames. Her husband tried to save her, but by the time he could stop her flight and smother the flames, she was horribly burned. She died a few days later and was buried in a small cemetery on the plantation of Samuel's brother, Dr. Edward C. Bellamy. The cemetery is not far from Bellamy Bridge.

The legend holds, however, that the grave could not contain the love between Samuel and Elizabeth. Supposedly her ghost soon began to appear in the area around the cemetery and Bellamy Bridge. Some said she could be seen as a pale white figure roaming the swamps along the Chipola River. Others described a more horrible apparition, engulfed in fire, that rushed through the swamps and plunged into the river.

Samuel, it is said, was so devestated by Elizabeth's death that he dropped from public life, refused to ever live in the beautiful mansion he had built for her, became an alcoholic and eventually took his own life. The ghost of his long lost bride, however, continued to appear around Bellamy Bridge and some claim she can still be seen there today.

It is a fascinating story, but is it true? I'll begin to look closer into the real story behind this fascinating Florida legend in the next part of the series.

In the meantime, if you would like to read more, click here to visit the Bellamy Bridge section of

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