Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bellamy Bridge, Part Three

This is part three of a series on the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge. If you would like to read the previous posts first, just scroll down the page!

A short time after their 1834 wedding, Samuel and Elizabeth joined with Edward and Ann in beginning a long trek to the Chipola country of Florida. The Crooms were already established in the new Territory and the two new Bellamy families were joining them. According to documents later filed before Florida's Supreme Court, they left North Carolina with everything needed to start new plantations in Jackson County: supplies, overseers, livestock and dozens of slaves.

Dr. Edward Bellamy had purchased the Fort Plantation, a farm carved from the wilderness the previous decade in the rich Chipola River valley at the site of today's Bellamy Bridge. This is the area of Jackson County still known as the "Bellamy Plantation," but it was the farm of Edward and Ann Bellamy.

Dr. Samuel Bellamy and his new wife, Elizabeth, actually acquired their land at a place called "Rock Cave" on the opposite side of the Chipola and closer to the new city of Marianna. Samuel and Elizabth's Rock Cave Plantation was in the Baker Creek settlement, named for a small stream (seen here) that rises northeast of Cottondale and flows north and east, eventually joining with other creeks and flowing into the Chipola River upstream from Marianna.

Although legend holds that Samuel built the magnificent new mansion in Marianna for Elizabeth, they actually lived out at Rock Cave. Through backbreaking labor, his gangs of enslaved laborers cleared fields and built a large home for the couple, along with all of the other necessary buildings of the plantation. It soon became one of the most successful plantations in Jackson County and was the source for the first bargeload of Sea Island cotton to navigate the Chipola River and safely reach Apalachicola.

Our series on the true story behind the legend of the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge will continue. In the meantime if you would like to read more, just follow this link to visit my Bellamy Bridge site.

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