On the Wacissa

Is it Opinionnews or a Big Fat Lie?

Jefferson County Courthouse, Florida

Jefferson County Courthouse, Florida

There’s a new but insidious way of presenting “Facts” or “News” that is doing great damage in our society. The lead statement presented as a news story is true, then one or two words from that statement are artfully twisted and twisted again until it becomes a unrecognizable – a lie. This is done so carefully and so well that the listener or viewer must be alert and watchful not to follow these twists and turns to be misled.

So called “Newscasters” on several television stations use this “opinionnews” constantly. Certain radio personalities have perfected the method and use it almost exclusively to make their opinion appear as real news. Each one of us must listen carefully and think hard as we follow these artful twists and turns so we will not be misled.

Recently opinionnews has crept into our daily newspaper. This story about Jefferson County Florida, presented on Feb. 21, 2017 in the Tallahassee Democrat on the front page above the fold, began in truth. The Jefferson County school system is a complete failure. This fact hurts our community in many ways. That does not mean however, as this story concludes, that we are a complete and dismal failure in every way.

Read carefully, and be aware that you are being led by this new opinionnews method to believe a lie in this piece. The City of Monticello and Jefferson County are not dying. We have several interesting and eclectic business districts. Downtown Monticello is thriving. We have a businesses in all of our storefronts except one and that one is being remodeled for use. We have several outstanding restaurants and an active opera house.

Our town is full of beautiful historic buildings, some designed or restored by famous architects, others in the process of restoration with the help of Florida Historic Resources. We have great old houses, many large and elegant, but also streets lined with adorable cracker cottages, their porches shaded by big trees. People say hello to you on our streets.

People beside Opera House

People beside Opera House

Our City Council and County Commission are helping interested citizens improve our parking and infrastructure. Both governmental bodies support Monticello and Jefferson County’s progress. Our police force and fire fighters are hometown heroes.

Jefferson County’s natural environment is a pristine miracle in our modern world. You can really breathe here. The Aucilla and Wacissa River System, flatwoods, rolling red hills, deep forests and protected wetlands are precious to every Jefferson County citizen. Scientific studies are proving that Jefferson County is the home of the first settlers of North America.

On the Wacissa

On the Wacissa

We welcome visitors. Don’t be misled by opinionnews. Come and find out for yourself.

 

DUELS in Monticello Florida

duel

Courthouse at EveningI’ve read of historic duels between several old families in Jefferson County. The stories always include the participants moving the actual event north about five miles to the “no-man’s’land” at the Florida-Georgia border. The story always further explains that the actual border had not been exactly pinned down at the time, so neither locale’s sheriff felt he had jurisdiction. Therefore the duelists did not worry that dueling had been declared illegal in both states. They were ready to fight!duel

It’s different now, in 2017 we still duel, oh yes, but we handle these contests in a legal way. Here are the rules: All antagonists must register with the Monticello/Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. It’s located on West Washington Street. Then they must gather at the dueling grounds on the appointed day – that’s the Old Apron Factory on south Jefferson Street – (you’ll see a Simpson’s Nursery sign) Don’t pay any attention, it’s still the appointed LEGAL dueling grounds.

Most of the historical antagonists tried to keep their duels a secret according to Shofner, but nowadays every one of them blatantly advertises his fight. They ask people to come and watch! It really is a DO NOT MISS event for the whole area. We even invite people from north of the Georgia border.

Located - Pearl and Jefferson

Located – Pearl and Jefferson

All the duelists will congregate in the Old Apron Factory, South Hwy 19, Monticello, Florida on February 18 @ 5:00 pm11:00 pm United States + Google Map for the Monticello Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce  Chili Challenge,  2077 S. Jefferson (South Hwy 19), Monticello, FL Set-up 3pm to 4:30pm; Judging 4:30pm to 5pm; Open to the Public 5pm to 7pm –

BUY YOUR TICKETS TODAY! Admission – Adults $8 (all you can eat) Children ages 5-12 $5; Ages 4 and under FREE! The Chaotics Dance 7:00PM to 10 PM – tickets $15.

 

Christmas Tour of Homes in Monticello, FL, 2016

Pearl Street in Monticello

CHRISTMAS TOUR OF HOMES in MONTICELLO, FLORIDA

Pearl Street in Monticello

Pearl Street in Monticello Florida

The 2016 Christmas Tour of Homes in the City of Monticello in Jefferson County Florida is on Saturday, December 10, 2016 from 12:00 to 6:00 PM. This event includes a self-directed tour of nine (9) historic venues and is presented by the Monticello Area Historic Preservation Association.

The tour costs $15.00 and you can buy tickets in advance from Monticello/Jefferson Chamber and several other venues in the town of Monticello and Southern Friends Framing and Antiques in Thomasville.

The most fun however, will be to go to the Women’s Club building at 985 East Pearl Street (Monticello’s prettiest street). They not only have tickets for the tour, they have their famous holiday cakes and if you are hungry they also offer a light meal for sale. The sponsors of this event provide a phone number if you have questions – 850-997-6552.

This tour encompasses an area of Monticello that is often overlooked except by local residents. You will see several houses that are truly beautiful as well as interesting historically and culturally.

One other thing you should look for during the tour is the magnificent Monticello Avenue of Oaks. These wonderful trees are worth the tour alone. Ask someone to direct you when you visit the Women’s Club.

The tour sponsor, Monticello Area Historic Preservation Association, works with our Women’s Club, Monticello/Jefferson Chamber, Jefferson County Tourist Development Council and Main Street of Monticello to encourage the preservation of the treasured buildings in this tiny 1827 town.

Monticello’s tree lined streets are full of small and large historic homes, many dating from before the Civil War. They are an expression of the best of our culture and we welcome your visit.

JC #1 347

JC #1 248

Located - Pearl and Jefferson

Located – Pearl and Jefferson

Joseph Neil Reed, Architect in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida

Built in  frame in 1838, rebuilt in brick 1852, remodeled by J.Neel Reid in 1914

Hidden along the quiet streets of small towns in south Georgia and north Florida are forgotten treasures—unique and beautiful houses and buildings designed by the south’s great architect, Joseph Neel Reid. Atlanta and Macon Georgia boast many Reid buildings, but the tiny towns of Quitman, Georgia and Monticello, Florida have their own examples of Reid’s genius.

Built in  frame in 1838, rebuilt in brick 1852, remodeled by J.Neel Reid in 1914

Built in frame in 1838, rebuilt in brick 1852, remodeled by J.Neel Reid in 1914

Reid is described by author William R. Mitchell, Jr., as a “champion of architecture, gardens, and interior decoration, of fine arts and antiques, a leader of charm and style who helped to establish architecture and landscape architecture as professions in his region.”

A native of Alabama, Joseph Neel Reid began his career as an apprentice in Macon and Atlanta Georgia. He studied architecture at Columbia University in New York and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His first partnership included Hal Hentz of Gadsden County, Florida and G. L. Norman. Adler joined the firm after the first year. Their earliest projects included homes in Colonial Revival style with Reid’s signature classical details and Italianate touches.

Reid redesigned and rebuilt the Jefferson Academy in Monticello Florida in 1914. Built first in the 1930s in frame, the school was redone in bricks handmade by slaves in 1852. In 1914, Reid added east and west wings and integrated them into the building’s new design with the sweep of wide steps and massive neo-classical columns across the front portico. Smaller columns cross the ground level entrance at the back of the building.

Known by many residents as the old Monticello High School, this building sits high above the south side of Washington Street near Monticello’s town center. On a corner, the location offers a clear view of this perfect example of Reid’s eclecticism, a graceful mixture of Greek-Revival and neo-Georgian.

The Turnbull House was designed by Joseph Neel Reid 1918

The Turnbull House was designed by Joseph Neel Reid 1918

A few blocks down Washington Street from the old Monticello High School building is Reid’s T. T. Turnbull house with its long Italianate loggia. This home was built for a representative to Florida’s legislature who later became a representative to the United States Congress. Complete Hentz and Reid drawings for both of these buildings are housed in the Georgia Tech archives in Atlanta.

Rear View of remodeled Old Monticello High School

Rear View of remodeled Old Monticello High School

 

 

Jefferson County Florida Slave Canal

Wacissa River at Goosepasture

My friend Ed Green took me through wilderness of the famous Jefferson County Slave Canal in a small boat. I wanted to take pictures, and he knew I was worried about my camera and believed the boat would provide more stability for me than a canoe.

The canal was beautiful, breathtaking at times, but believe me, it was a kayaking or canoe trip, not a boat trip. Although Ed’s boat was small and light, it was too much for the obstacles encountered along the trail.

Slave Canal dug by slaves in 1850s to connect the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers

Slave Canal dug by slaves in 1850s to connect the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers

We slid under fallen trees, pushed over big sunken logs and made portages. Someone had done some cutting of fallen trees to open the trail, but they were obviously providing for a small canoe or Kayak not even a boat as small as ours.  I’d go back any time, but I would have to go in a kayak or a small canoe. I’ll just buy a waterproof camera so I don’t have to worry about it.

We put the boat in at Goose Pasture. The sky was brilliant blue and the clouds were mysterious snow white shapes. We had to push through heavy grass just under the surface of the water as we moved the boat along the Wacissa toward the turn to the canal. There are signs where the trail branches off, but you have to watch carefully, it would be easy to lose your way. I was thankful to be with someone who knew the turns.

Wacissa River at Goosepasture

Wacissa River at Goose Pasture

 

I started taking pictures immediately. Shots from the shore alone were worth visiting Goose Pasture landing. As we drifted along the river every scene we passed seemed to be waiting to be photographed. Thank goodness for a digital camera. I would have been sick under the constraints of film.

As we entered the actual Slave Canal Ed pointed out areas of Indian mounds explaining that in this area many of the mounds are very ancient, some even Paleolithic. It was very quiet. We began to see water birds and an occasional gator. There were two or three places where it would have been easy to take a wrong turn, but we managed to stay on the trail.

Great piles of stones, many probably two feet square line one part of the canal. These were piled along the waterway by the hands of men working in this humid, jungle-like environment in the 1850s. It is an impressive sight, worth making the trip through the canal.

We came to the Aucilla along a stretch of water bordered by banks of wildflowers then the cabins and houses of Nutall Rise came into view and we were out of the wilderness.