Recalling happenings in old Fort Crawford

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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This week I turned to my old collection of material for a subject for this week’s Forgotten Trails. It was from information gathered by Mrs. Annie Waters. It came from an article in the 1907 issue of the Pine Belt News and was edited by W.D. Sowell. He details early years of the Fort Crawford near the present day Fort Crawford Cemetery.
Mr. Sowell said he was very familiar with the locality and that he resided in that part of Conch County, before Escambia County was formed.
At that time there were a lot of evidences of the old fort.
An old brick yard near by was said to have been established and operated by the troops stationed there. The timber and lumber used in the building were sawed with what is called a whip saw. A well was sunk on the level land at or near the fort and curbed with brick. A burial place was established near by and I have often seen the graves said to be that of soldiers. They were neatly paled in with cedar pickets.
As the country became more settled, the same plot of ground was used for burial purposes and is now known as Fort Crawford Cemetery.
At the time the country was very thinly populated. The widow Brewton (formerly of Georgia) and family lived at the east end of the plateau, Judge Sowell at the west end and near the cemetery. He was, for many, years was a postmaster at Fort Crawford. The mail route went from Milton, Fla., to Sparta, one round trip on horseback being made each week. Another office was established across the river, known as Nathanville and Mr. N.S. Travis Nicholas Stallworth Travis) was postmaster. A German colony located about one mile south of the fort and their descendants are still living in that vicinity.
The old fort was the voting place for the precinct and was also the place fore holding magistrate’s court, seats having been arranged for that purpose under the large spreading oak trees. He said he heard his first political speech at that place.Then it was Wigs and Democrats and the latter had a poor showing at Fort Crawford as it was overwhelmingly Whig. Usually about 60 votes were polled and in these good old honest days there was no registration, no instruction to voters, no printed tickets and no watchers at the polls. There were no charged of election frauds and no contests.
There was also a race track along the level stretch road and I have seen many a pony race there. The country was full of game and it was as easy then to kill a deer or turkey as it is now to kill a jaybird. The streams were full of many were the find strings of bream that I caught in Murder Creek and the river.
Milton and Pensacola were the markets for this section of country, but the people had but little to sell, except sweet potatoes, chickens, eggs and gophers. The people raised corn and potatoes mostly, and a family was considered well-to-do if enough corn for a year’s supply was grown. Cattle raising and hunting were the main occupations of the men; the women looked after the spinning wheels and looms. It was surely a happy country and a happy people.

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