Underground Marianna
Florida Caverns State Park in
Marianna is home to Florida's only
public tour cave. The park is a major
point of interest in the city.
Ely-Criglar House
Built in 1840, the historic 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
Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Marianna, Florida
St. Luke's Episcopal Church was the scene of
heavy fighting during the Battle of Marianna. The Civil
War action took place in the streets of the city.
City of Southern Charm
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 nearby 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

The city flexed is political muscle in 1860
when local planter and attorney John Milton
was elected Florida's governor. Elected by a
wide margin while Florida was still part of  
the United States, Governor Milton did not
take office until October 1861. By that time the
state had joined the Confederacy.

After the fall of the coastal cities of Pensacola
and Apalachicola, Marianna became the
military headquarters for Confederate troops
assigned to defend Northwest Florida. The
entire region from the Apalachicola River on
the east to the Choctawhatchee River on the
west and from the Alabama line to the Gulf of
Mexico was patrolled by Southern troops
based in the city.

The only telegraph line connecting the state
capital of Tallahassee with the rest of the
South passed through Marianna. The city
also emerged as an important training post
and quartermaster's depot.

Marianna's growing military status drew the
attention of Union commanders and a raid
was launched from Pensacola against the
city in September 1864. The result was the
Battle of Marianna, a small but bloody action.

Fighting raged from the west side of town
through the downtown area to the Chipola
River. Heavy Union casualties were suffered
on West Lafayette Street, while a number of
Confederate troops were killed at St. Luke's
Episcopal Church.
The battle is memorialized today in multiple
locations and a brochure for self-guided
walking tours can be picked up for free at the
historic Russ House & Visitor Center on
West Lafayette Street. Guided tours can be
scheduled by calling the visitor center at

The Reconstruction era was especially bitter
in Marianna. The U.S. Government moved in
1868 to outlaw peaceful assembly, free
speech and the right to hold and bear arms
in Florida. The people of Jackson County
resisted in a bloody confrontation that did not
end until 1876 when local citizens - black and
white - united to defeat the "Carpetbaggers"
at the ballot box.

Marianna was the site of the
Claude Neal
lynching in 1934. An African American man
who admitted to the rape and murder of a
young woman named Lola Cannady, Neal
was killed by a small group of men who took
him from a jail in Alabama where he had
been housed for his own safety. The event
generated national publicity and helped bring
lynching to an end in the United States.

s 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 are far removed from life in
Marianna today. The diverse and forward-
thinking modern city is a growing center for
heritage- and eco-tourism.
Florida Caverns
State Park features the state's only tour cave
and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors
each year.

Other major attractions include Blue Springs
Recreational Area, Bellamy Bridge Heritage
Trail, Marianna battlefield, historic homes,
the Chipola River and the famously haunted
Russ House and Visitor Center.

Please click here to learn more about points
of interest, accommodations, restaurants
and more.
Russ House & Visitor Center
Open to the public daily, the historic
Russ House is Jackson County's
official visitor center. Free tours are
available during open hours.
Chipola River
Marianna borders the spring-fed
Chipola River, a noted paddling
stream and major destination for
eco-tourism destination.
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Copyright 2012 & 2015 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: September 5, 2015
Battle of Marianna
Guided and self-guided tours are
available of Marianna's Civil War
battlefield. Gravestones of men
killed in the battle are among the
landmarks of the city.