Florida Caverns State Park
The only tour cave in Florida,
Marianna's caverns welcome
hundreds of thousands of
visitors each year.
Ely-Criglar House
Built in 1840, this beautiful old
home is one of many historic
antebellum and Victorian
structures in Marianna.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Marianna, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Marianna, Florida
Marianna, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
The Battle of Marianna
St. Luke's Episcopal Church was the scene of heavy
fighting during the Battle of Marianna.
Historic Sites and Scenic Beauty
Founded in 1827, the Northwest Florida city
of Marianna is one of the most charming
communities in the state. With its historic
structures, magnificent caverns, pristine river
and downtown Civil War battlefield, Marianna
offers a setting unlike any other in Florida.

Although the modern city dates from the early
19th century, Marianna's recorded history
actually dates back to the Spanish mission of
San Nicolas de Tolentino, established in
1674 at the mouth of a large cave.

The mission lasted only one year before it
was destroyed in an uprising of the Chacato
(also called Chatot) Indians who lived there.
The Spanish retaliated by burning Chacato
fields and homes.

As the Chacato vanished from the area, they
were replaced by Creeks and Seminoles. It
is believed that Native American warriors hid
in the caves of today's
Florida Caverns State
Park when Andrew Jackson marched an
army through during the First Seminole War.

It was Jackson's 1818 campaign that gave
many Southern frontiersmen their first look at
the rich and beautiful lands along the
Chipola River. As soon as the war ended,
many came back to begin clearing fields and
building cabins.

Florida was still a Spanish territory then, but
the United States gained possession of the
region in 1821 and more settlers flooded to
the area.

Among them was a Scottish land speculator
and merchant named Robert Beveridge. He
and his wife, Anna Maria, arrived from
Baltimore in 1827 and laid out the modern
city of Marianna on a beautiful hilltop
overlooking the Chipola River.

Beveridge came up with the city's unique
name by combining his wife's middle name,
Maria, with the first name of the wife of his
business partner, Anna.

The little village prospered and won a bitter
political fight with the nearby town of
Webbville (now a ghost town) to become the
county seat of Jackson County. By the time of
the Civil War, Marianna was a small but
politically powerful city. The home of Florida's
Confederate Governor John Milton, the city
became a military headquarters for Southern
troops assigned to defend Northwest Florida.

The city was attacked by Union forces on
September 27, 1863, in what became known
as the
Battle of Marianna. Fighting raged
throughout the downtown area and a number
of Confederate troops were killed when St.
Luke's Episcopal Church and two nearby
homes were burned over their heads. The
fight has been called "Florida's Alamo."
The battle is memorialized today on the
grounds of the historic church, with markers
and monuments downtown and at the city's
historic Riverside Cemetery.

The Reconstruction era was especially bitter
in Marianna. Armed gangs roamed the area
and some have estimated that as many as
168 people were killed between 1868 and
1874. The real number was much lower.

Marianna was also the site of the 1934
lynching of Claude Neal, an African American
man accused of rape and murder. The
national publicity generated by the lynching
and resulting riot played a significant role in
American history by helping to end lynchings
in the United States.

Such events seem far removed from the
modern city, which is both progressive and
diverse. Marianna today is a growing center
for ecotourism and heritage tourism.

Florida Caverns State Park features the
state's only tour cave and draws hundreds of
thousands of visitors. The park also features
swimming at beautiful Blue Hole Spring,
hiking, camping, picnicking and more. The
Chipola River, which flows along the eastern
side of Marianna, is popular for canoing.
Joseph Russ House
Now home to the Chamber of
Commerce, this historic Russ
House overlooks Marianna's
main street.
Chipola River
Marianna borders Florida's
beautiful spring-fed Chipola
River, a noted canoe stream
and eco-tourism destination.
Marianna Post Office
Marianna's beautiful Spanish
influenced postal facility is a
landmark of the downtown
area.
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Copyright 2012 and by Dale Cox
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Last Update: July 7, 2013