As told by Will Barnhill...
Before the Civil War and because of an epidemic of Yellow Fever in Milton, the Peaden
Family moved to (what was then Walton County) a place a few miles north of the present
town of Milligan. They became extensive land owners and were quite prosperous.
Descendants of this family still live about 12 miles north of Milligan and about 3 miles
south of Oak Crove.
Prior to and following the Civil War, several Stage Coach Inns were located in the
vicinity of Yellow River. One of these Inns was located at what is now known as the
Griffith Ferry, a few miles north of Milligan and a little northwest of Crestview. In
1862, Sweet Powell, a brother-in-law of James Monroe Barnhill, bought the Stage Coach
Inn and operated it together with a post office, known as Austinville on the Old
Original Spanish Trail on the east side of the river at Griffith Ferry.
During the War, James Monroe Barnhill was unable to serve because of serious rupture.
One day some Raiders came by and found him out in the woods hunting his hogs. They
forced him to accompany them to the Griffith Ferry to help them get across. After
making several trips back and forth across the river, the Raiders forced Barnhill to
load all of Griffith's good heart fence rails on the ferry flat, set fire to it, and
then set it adrift down the river scattering fire as it drifted with the current.
Also during the War, Alex Jones, a deserter, lived a few miles north of the ferry. His
loyal wife washed his clothes and hung them out to dry every week thereby causing
their home to be closely watched in hope of catching the deserter. This was an
excellent ruse to deploy the attention of police at home while the deserter lived safely in
a community several miles away. During the time he made a good corn crop in an opening
in the swamp and harvested it. After shelling the corn and placing it in a hollow log,
he sealed the cracks and crevices with pitch to protect it from mice and weevils.
Franklin King, one of the pioneer settlers of Oak Grove Community, had the unique
experience of living in three different counties in the State of Florida while living
in the same house. Walton, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa.
Prior to the Civil War, Norman Campbell operated a Stage Coach Inn 1/2 mile north of old
Pinewav on the east side of the present L & N RR purchased from Yellow River RR.
Two large live oak trees still stand.
Many ingenious devices were used to move the virgin timber to saw mills and market
during the time that the trees were cut. One method worth noting was a method
frequently referred to as "Pole or Tram roads." Timbers of regular sizes were cut and
laid end to end in a double line equal distant apart so as to fit the flanges on the
wheels of the tram. A tram is a skeleton flat car used for transporting logs, the
wheels of which are adjustable according to the length of the logs. The poles were
used until they became so frayed that they were unfit for further use. These pole
roads were laid out to follow the contour of the land so as to have as little
difficulty as possible in moving the loads.
The most desirable place to unload the trains on the river bank was to locate a place
where the river came out to the foot of a hill forming a high bluff over which to roll
the logs into the river where they were joined together in rafts and floated down the
river to the mill and manufactured into lumber. The tram road made sort of a sweep
down by the river bank. The empty trains were pulled back out into the woods by
oxen, reloaded and returned to the river bank for unloading.
The log haulers had special places along the small streams where they drank water.
The following petitions are taken from the Territorial Papers of Florida
January 24, 1832 - Petition of Walton County Citizens for the reappointment of Honorable
Henry M. Breckinridge as Judge of Superior Court of the Western District of Florida.
The following subscribers from sectIon 5 of the Petition appear to have been residents
of the Laurel Hill or Almarante area of Walton County: Daniel D.
Campbell, Donald Campbell, Wright Gaskins, Stephen Senterfitt, Alexander
McCaskill, Thomas Baggett, Edmund Baggett, Absalom Stokes,
Reuben Hart, Sr., Reuben Hart Jr., John Hart, Daniel Hart, Reuben N.
Barrow, John Barrow, and William Ward.
In 1834, a petition to 23rd Congress. first session a Memorial from the citizens of
Escambia County, Territory of Florida, for an increase in salary of the Judge of Western
District of the Territory from Walton County. Signers included Daniel, Daniel D.,Alexander, and John Campbell.
January 21, 1839. A petition to Congress by the citizens of West Florida (covering an
area with about 40 families) for removal from Yellow River of piles of driftwood, buried
logs and rafts at an estimated cost of approximately $6,000. 00. This clearing would
make some 50 miles of Yellow River navigable. Petition for an appropriation to clear
the river included the following signers.
John Campbell, William Ward, Daniel Hart, James D. Clary, John Barrow, Jesse Senterfitt,
Nicholas Baggett, Edmund Baggett, John Stokes, Lewis Baggett, Stephen Senterfitt, Absalom Stokes,
Robert Steele, Peter Campbell, Alexander Baggett, Richmond Barrow, Wright Gaskins,
Henry Baggett, Alexander Campbell, William Gaskins, Alexander Fountain,
Daniel A. Wilkinson, John Gaskins, Daniel McDuffie, Reuben Hart,
and Wright A. Stokes
June 4, 1842 -- A second petition to Honorable David Levy, Delegate to Congress, by
the citizens of Walton County for $15,000.00 appropriation to clear obstruction of
logs and rafts from Yellow River for navigation and development of the area "and
we your humble petitioners will ever pray that this our second petition may be granted."
Almarante, Walton County, Florida, June 4, 1842.
Among the signers were: William Ward, Henry Baggett, William Gaskins,
Peter Campbell, Alex Baggett, J. Steele, Lewis Baggett, Richmond
Barro, Nicholas Baggett, Edmund Baggett, John Barrow, Andrew Baggett,
Thomas Baggett, Reuben Barrow, Allen Hart, Choice Baggett, Alex Fountai,
Dennie Hart, Norman Morrison, D. A. Wilkinson, Reuben Hart Sr., John Stokes,
Alex Campbell, Reuben Hart Jr., Josiah Stokes, Wright Gaskins, Daniel Hart,
Robert Steele, John Gaskins, Daniel McCaskill, Jesse Senterfitt, Stephen Senterfitt, Michael Baggett,
and Joshua Baggett.