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Three Rivers State Park

7908 Three Rivers Road Sneads, Florida 32460 (850) 482-9006

Three Rivers State Park is located just north of Sneads, Florida on the banks of Lake Seminole. The park gets its name because three rivers converge to in the park, the Chattahoochee, Flint River, and Spring Creek. The park offers many amenities and activities including camping, fishing, site seeing, canoe rentals and more.

If camping is you thing Three Rivers offers primitive camp sites, RV spaces, and one lake front cabin. Most camp sites have BBQ grills and fire pits. Also, there is a bath house on site.

If you have a boat there is a dock you can tie off to, if not there is a pier and plenty of bank you can fish from. Also, there is a fish cleaning station available to all you anglers.

Florida Caverns State Park

Florida Caverns State Park 3345 Caverns Road Marianna, Florida 32446 (850) 482-9598

Caverns State Park

The Caverns State Park is the finest park in the area and offers many activities including camping, swimming, canoeing, hiking, biking, showers/restrooms, and much more. The park was created in the 30s during the Great depression. It is the only dry cave tour in the state. The tour takes about 40 minutes and the natural formations in the cave are spectacular.

The park includes a museum and gift shop with many interesting exhibits that give information about the caves and animal and plant life in the park. Another interesting site is where the Chipola River is swallowed up by a sink hole and the reemerges about 200 yards downstream.  The park also features a swimming area created by a large natural spring called "Blue Hole". For visitors to the area it is a must see.

My Dad......The Soldier

Contributed By Ernie Padgett

How many of us as young kids would listen to a parent and accept every word as absolute? Then as we grew into teenage and young adult years, started to question these absolutes. Many of us would just remain silent and form our own conclusions without openly questioning a parent.

As for me, and I'm sure many others, as we grew older, sometimes circumstances and time became the great teacher.

I was raised on the "south side of the tracks" in Marianna in an area known as Daffin Bottom. My Dad worked for many years at Robert Andrews store. Located on the corner of South Jefferson and South Street, Andrews was probably the busiest store in town. It was a gas station, grocery store, meat market, grease rack, bait shop, and radiator shop. The old store, though closed for many years, still stands.

"Mr. Robert" and my Dad would let me work there at a very young age, probably about 10 years old. My job was to "watch the front" as Dad put it. A car would drive up to the gas pumps and I would kick into gear....pumping gas, checking the oil and tires...and last but not least...washing the windshield.

I spent many hours listening to Dad and his friends talking about their WWII experiences while gathered around the drink box at Andrews. This was before the days of coffee groups meeting at McDonalds, Hardees, or the Gazebo. Back then people would stand around a local store to discuss whatever was on their mind.

When I was very young, I believed it all. As I grew older, I started to think that some of it was true and some of it may have been exaggerated. These guys were my Dad's war buddies....and his drinking buddies.

They would talk about the battles they fought in and the cold winters in Germany. They talked (with each other) about friends, some from Jackson County and surrounding areas, that died in combat.

Many of these conversations took place in the late 1950's when I was 10, 11, and 12 years old. My Dad passed away in 1982. Many years later, in 2005, I requested his military records from the Department of Army.

When his records were sent, I was both happy and sad. Sad because after reviewing all the information sent to me...I realized that my Father had not exaggerated anything.

I received a letter from the National Personnel Records Center that stated, in part, the following:

"For veteran Ernest L. Padgett, Sr. we are pleased to verify entitlement to the following awards:

Bronze Star Medal

European - African - Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze service star

World War II Victory Medal

Combat Infantryman Badge 1st award

The Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII

The letter further stated, relative to the Bronze Star award, the following "The Bronze Star Medal (BSM) was established in February 1944. Announcement of the criteria of the award was made several months later. At the conclusion of World War II, General George C. Marshall, upon reviewing the number of awards received by infantrymen, was disturbed to learn that comparatively few had received recognition and that infantrymen accounted for more casualties than any other branch or element of the U. S. Armed Forces. In order to rectify this disparity and oversight, the criteria was established for Combat Infantryman Badge and Combat Medical Badge recipients during the period December 7, 1941 to September 2, 1945 to receive the Bronze Star Medal."

After serving our country in World War II, in 1944 and 1945, my Dad received an honorable discharge on October 16, 1945.

The records I received show conclusively my Dad had been in combat many times. I'm writing this article on May 28, 2012, Memorial Day.

My Dad and so many others didn't have to exaggerate anything...they lived it. They fought and many died for our freedom.

By this article I'm saying to all of them, Thank You.

I feel my Dad knows this.

Death on a Pale Horse By Dale Cox

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. - Revelation 6:8.

The Reconstruction era in Jackson County took an ominous turn early in 1866 when a Union officer named Charles M. Hamilton arrived in Marianna. To quote the verse from the Book of Revelation, "Hell followed with him."

Hamilton came to Marianna to head up the local office of the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees and Abandoned Lands (commonly called the Freedman's Bureau). This was the organization tasked by the U.S. Government with overseeing the transition of the former slaves into their new roles as citizens of the country. In most areas of the South, the Bureau's work went without violence. In Jackson County, however, that was not the case and Hamilton himself was the cause of much of what followed.

When he first arrived in Jackson County, Hamilton was surprised to find that the local whites were "pretty well disposed to the freedmen" and that no significant problems were taking place. This was because the people of both races, after hearing from the governor the previous fall, had moved forward with making arrangements to get the county's farms back into operation.

Governor William Marvin, the appointed military governor of Florida, had addressed public meetings in Marianna on September 16 and 17, 1865, explaining to the freed people what it meant to be free:

...You must be contented with having your freedom, and what else you have you will have to get by work. And when you shall have made it by hard work, you will know how many days of hard toll it cause you to get it, and then you will rightly value it, and take care of it. You now are at liberty to go to work for yourselves; you have none other to work for. You belong now to no man; you have ceased to be property; you never will be sold again; and if you will struggle hard and do right, live as good men and women, and you will prosper, if not, you will suffer.

The governor had urged all of the county's citizens, both white and black, to cooperate and do what they could to begin producing badly needed food as quickly as possible. And the citizens had responded. Per the governor's instructions, they entered into hundreds of contracts.

These contracts basically were sharecropping agreements. Few of Jackson County's landowners had any real money left after the war, so they offered a share of the crop plus housing, food and other supplies to the freedmen in exchange for them helping to return the farms to production. Surviving examples of these contracts show that they were well done and that the landowners tried to be fair.

When Charles Hamilton arrived in early 1866, before even the first post-war crop could be planted, he immediately and illegally invalidated these contracts.

Under Florida law, the labor contracts were under the regulation of the county judge and nothing in either state or federal law gave the Freedman's Bureau any control over existing agreements. Hamilton, however, overruled the law and assumed responsibility for the contracts himself.

Not only did he require that all agreements be made using a printed form he prepared himself, he also required that both landowners and freedmen pay him fees for stamps to be placed on the documents. It was the first step in an assumption of power by the Bureau that far surpassed anything attempted anywhere else in Florida.

The consolidation of power by Hamilton and the Bureau was the spark that soon led to the first outbreaks of violence in Jackson County. The agent's arrival in Marianna, reasonably could be called the first "shot" in Jackson County's Reconstruction War. This was the opinion of John Wallace, himself a freedman, who had served in the Second U.S. Colored Troops and fought on the Union side at the Battle of Natural Bridge during the Civil War. He went on to become a teacher and legislator in Florida after the war and summed up his opinion of the cause of the violence in Jackson County as follows:

...The two races became arrayed against each other in deadly hostility, which led to frequent occurrences of violence and bloodshed. This state of things was not due to the enmity of the whites to the blacks, nor their opposition to the new law enfranchising the latter - though they were opposed to it, of course - nor was it due to any natural bad temper or hatred of the whites on the part of the colored people, for under ordinary circumstances there are no more peaceable people in the world than the inhabitants of Jackson County, of both colors, and they would have passed through the ordeal of reconstruction without a jar or disturbance, had it not been for the evil influence of the very men who were delegated to preserve peace, to administer justice, and to promote good fellowship and kindly relations between the freedmen and their former owners.

It did not take long after Hamilton's arrival for things to begin to change in Jackson County. His arrival, whether on a pale horse or not, had surely brought death with it.

Editor's Note: Writer and historian Dale Cox is the author of ten books on Southern history. They are available at Chipola River Book & Tea on Lafayette Street in downtown Marianna or online at

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