Claude Reese

Claude Reese

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Graham Air Base

I am writing this article because of the recent death of Paul Fuder. He was a flight instructor at Graham. For many years there have been four previous Graham instructors living here. They were Paul, Joe Quick, Jake Huizer and me. Joe died a few months ago, I have moved to Prattville, AL, so, suddenly there is only one left, Jake Huizer. I think he and I are both 89 and I think he is in relatively good health. When Jake leaves, there will be no one left in Jackson County who flew for Graham.

I just want to say a little about the times of Graham. (1953-1961). At that time there were still many 40 acre farms in this area. Rural folks went to town on Saturday to shop and visit. I remember going to the grocery on Market Street and there was a man standing at the door. He said "You are not from here, are you"? We had a good visit and that began my attachment to Jackson County.

Graham-Aviation-2Oxen were still used. Slade West had opened the West Manor subdivision and he had three men who worked there cleaning out undergrowth. I was building houses in that area when I was not flying. He told me I could use his men to help me when I needed some help. He would pay them and I could reimburse him later. Bartow Ford had a service station at Lafayette and Jefferson and if you stopped for gas it would be put in for you, the windshield would be cleaned and the interior would be vacuumed and the tires would be checked, and if you wanted, he would charge it to you.

Since Graham had students from so many foreign countries it brought a certain kind of sophistication to the area. I just also want to tell you a great many young ladies from here married some of those bright boys who later fought wars, became prisoners of war, astronauts and generals. I had students from France, Denmark, Holland, and Columbia South America.

I have tried to do television interviews of local people who lived here at that time, but those I selected were too shy and have now departed. There are still some residents from that era around who could do it but, so far, they have not agreed. I'll be glad to come down for that if it can be arranged. I think Graham's posterity deserves it.

Black History

I found this contract between Hamilton Bryan and some freed slaves while doing some other research on the Bryan estate. I am including a typed copy that is done as the best I can read it.

One Service of a copy of the within is hereby admitted
Emos F Little
Capt. 161st

State of Florida Jackson County
This indenture made this day (August 1, 1865) and entered into between Hamilton G. Bryan, Executor of estate of Elijah Bryan, of the 1st part, and the former slaves of said estate, of the 2nd part. Witherforth. That they said Bryan (Party of the 1st part) do hereby agree to furnish food + clothing and medical attendance as usual and the said laborers (parties of the second part) also agree to faithfully and diligently perform all labor required as here to fore, by said Bryan or his agents until the 1st day of August 1866. And that the laborers as aforesaid sign this instrument willingly and without any expectations of regard further than food clothing and medical attendance (as mentioned above) for themselves their children (now on the plantation) and the aged and infants formally slaves and above.
H.G. Bryan, Executor of Estate
Elijah Bryan
Daniel wife & 5 children
Bos Nancy eight children
Jean wife & eight children under 8 Sarah four children
Matilda & child Ellis
Hannah & child Gilbert
Louisa four children Rachel
Sally Ann two children Polly
Grace & her six children Tilvy
Thomas wife & three children Martha four children
Jack Barclay wife and their six children Bella two children
Jack Bryan mother & father
Homer mother sister & brother

We the undersigned certify that the within was signed in our presence this day Aug 1st. 1865
C.H. Askew

You will notice the slaves could not read or write, so, signed by their mark. They had to trust the reader or be compelled to make this agreement. I expect Hamilton was pressured to do this by the Union forces who were occupying this area at this time as it was admitted by a Captain Little. My count is 88 slaves so I expect it is most all those who were here, although some may have left. When his father, Elijah died in 1852 he had 52 slaves. Notice this contract was admitted Aug 3, 1865 just 4 months after the war ended Apr 9, 1865.

I hope this will be of some benefit to all who are making a special study of Black History this month.

Palladian Mansion

When we were restoring Great Oaks in the 1960s we were also building a Coca-Cola building in DeFuniak Springs. The architect was a gentleman in his 60s. I showed him some pictures of the house. When he saw pictures of the doors and windows he told me the design was Palladian. Another architect has told me the same. I never really followed up on this until the present time.

In this discussion we need to keep in mind Jackson County was formed in 1822. This area developed as a plantation area, as did most of the south. Across the south there are many houses that were built prior to the Civil War. They were typically two rooms wide with a hall between, two rooms high and one room deep. The kitchen was a separate building which was often later moved and attached to the rear of the house or some other type of structure was so added. Porches were installed at the front door. They were of all styles and they were often referred to as porticos. These homes have generally been referred to as Greek Revivals. We have two in Greenwood, the Hayes-Long Mansion and the Irwin House. In Marianna the Ely Mansion and the McKinnon House both fall in that category. You see on these the wide variety of porches. The Ely mansion architrave (the cornice work resting on the columns) is definitely Greek, but the columns are square. One reference I found said it had Ionic columns, so it may have previously had round ones.

great-oaks-palladian4From the time we first bought the Smith House (now Great Oaks) I have known it was designed by an architect. Here are some of my reasons. It had closets. All rooms except the parlor joined a hall. It was well planned and convenient. I had studied Greek architecture well enough to know the Greeks only used Doric columns. The architrave matched the Greek pattern. (Note its height.) I thought its hip roof was unusual, since most of the other houses and Greek temples had gable roofs but I now realize that's the architect's choice.

The term Palladianism comes from the Venetian architect, Andrea Palladio, 1508-1580.He wrote four books on his work which is called the Quattro Libri and he has most always had a following. There is a great deal of information about him and if you care to really get into this go to the internet and look up Palladian Architecture. I will just get into it enough to suffice our purpose. His work moved across Europe and finally came to America toward the latter part of the 18th century. It influenced our public buildings almost from the beginning. Thomas Jefferson was one of his disciples. He considered his Quattro Libri his architectural Bible. The Rotunda at the University of Virginia and the original Monticello are all Palladian. The White House, designed by James Hoban, was started in 1792. It is also Palladian. If you look at this, especially notice the window treatment.

One of his main points was symmetry. The other was windows. I am including a few pictures of Great Oaks to show these features. Note the front view. From the center of the front doors see how each side is symmetrical with the other. If you look at the floor plans, draw a line down the center, you will notice, except for minor points, the north and south sides mirror each other. Now look at the window and door trim. We have no interior pictures of the window trim because of the drapes.

Now, we ask why was such a sophisticated home built in this rural area at such a time? I have noted in previous articles that Hamilton Bryan administered his father's estate (Elijah) from 1852 to 1873 and his reports to the county judge are in the court house. I have just spent most of two days there doing research. We need to know the Bryans were quite sophisticated and travelled a great deal. They were college educated. I just found a letter from the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City Md. acknowledging payment for Elizabeth's (Lizzie) tuition. (copy attached)

Patapsco Female Institute
Ellicott City, Md., Post Office,
Feby 22d, 1868
H. E. Bryan Esq
Dear Sir – I have received this day – Draft of John W. Anderson Sons & Co Savannah Ga on Gilman Son & Co New York for Five hundred dollars ($500=) which we have placed to your Credit for Expenses of your Sister (Miss E.J. Bryan) in School – Academic year 1864=68
Respectfully & truly
Your St
N. C. Brooks
Secy Patap Inst

I have been trying to find the name of the architect, but have not been successful. I' m sure he was highly qualified, obviously a student of Palladio. This type design could have been a request of Hamilton. I expect we may never know the answers to the questions, but I know we have a rare jewel. I believe if this information is sent abroad by the TDC it will bring in many students of history and architecture and will cast a new light on our area.

I expect to continue study on this and may have a follow up article later.


History of Davis-West House V

When we completed our last article Slade West was involved in the WWII invasion of Europe. After completing his mission as second mate he came back to the states with a large convoy. After sometime back in Marianna he sailed in another convoy from New York, November 4, 1944. By November 21 they were near Belfast, Ireland. They sailed south and came around Lands End. (the southwest end of England) On November 30, 1944 they anchored at Portsmouth. After sailing across the south end of England they headed North in the English Channel and then by December 14, 1944 they anchored in the Schelde River in heavy fog. They got into a berth at Antwerp by 7:00 PM on the 15th. He saw several V-2 rockets and there was lots of bombing. This shows how far the invasion had advanced since last June 6. He mentions they started loading sand ballast on December 28 and while this was being done he walked on the shore and gave candy and gum to children. The convoy of about 50 ships left Antwerp on December 29, 1944.

He left New York again on February 6, 1945. They sailed across the Atlantic and passed by the south end of England again and back to Antwerp where they had the same berth as before. They departed from there on March 6, 1945. The convoy arrived in Boston March 25, 1945. He visited lots of friends in that area and left for home April 2, 1945. He soon got involved in his old pattern of life, visiting with friends and covering the area from St. Joe to Valparaiso.

In the previous article, I omitted some of the fine print from his diaries. He was a great reader. He always took a lot of books with him on the ship and read some everyday if the war activities did not prohibit him. He told of washing clothes and cleaning his room. He spent a lot of time navigating and locating the ships position by using a sextant. He told how the weather was on every day.

He was the last of his family to live in this house. Following are pictures of the antique furnishings of one of the bedrooms.

He was on every continent including Antarctica and he bought souvenirs everywhere he went. I know he was in London while he was in his twenties and the last trip I know of his taking was to Tibet. I think it was in the 1980's. Here is a picture of some of those souvenirs and a part of his library. Most of the books are about WWII.

You may wonder why this house is being preserved. I believe the Ely-Crigler House is the oldest in Marianna and this one is probably next in age. They are historically significant. This was the home of one of the surgeons in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. There are many dedicated students of the War Between the States who would go along distance to see this structure but they most likely will never do so because this information will never be published outside Jackson County.

Group Tours of the home may be arranged by calling 482-5276.

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