So You Think You Know Oak Grove, Okaloosa Co, FL? – Part 2

In the last post, we were introduced to the area of Oak Grove and to its predecessor, Barrow’s Ferry.  This might be a good place to lay out my supposition on the location of Almirante, the community across the river from Oak Grove, which was also an early settlement along the Yellow River and where the first post office for the area was located. I bring this up now because in the early days of Oak Grove some of the community institutions drew from surrounding areas and we don’t have a really good sense of where some of these folks actually lived. It was not uncommon to own property in a variety of locations while living in only one. And they often changed where they made their residence, either temporarily, as with the seasons, or permanently for whatever reason. For instance, we know that Oak Grove involved persons who lived much closer to what is today Highway 189 and the Blackman community. It also drew persons from Covington Co, AL (from as far north as the current location of Pleasant Home) and from the community called Almirante, Florida.

When the Spanish were in control of Florida the river we call Yellow River was called Del Rio Almirante, the “River of the Admiral”. It then had a brief history as Yellow Water River once the Americans took over and then transitioned to Yellow River. As many of us panhandle descendants know there was once a community called Almirante near what is today Laurel Hill and is often put forth as the early settlement of Laurel Hill, like Barrow’s Ferry is the early rendition of Oak Grove. I don’t think the community of Almirante was as far east as Laurel Hill. As we go through some of these records, especially the early Yellow River Baptist Church records we will see that many of the early families who were settled around what would become Laurel Hill attended and were members of the church. Coming from that far away for church service would have been possible but certainly an all-day event. Other than depending on traveling preachers in its early years, that might have been another reason for just having services at the church once a month!  As you can see on the map, just east of the river in the northern part of Walton County is the designation “Almirante P.O.”.  It would appear to be just across the river from Oak Grove, possibly near what would be the present day location of Magnolia Cemetery or maybe a bit more east toward Almarante Cemetery.


Thomas G. Bradford – 1838 Florida panhandle (a portion of the original map)

We left Barrow’s Ferry in the last post just prior to the 1830 census. A handful of “industrious” farmers had settled on the upper banks of the river and one, likely John Barrow, had built a ferry to cross the river. Now let’s look at the 1830 census and see if it tells us much about the folks that were on both sides of the boundary between Walton and Escambia County in 1830 and who would eventually be members of the Oak Grove community.

Barrow’s Ferry/Oak Grove was actually in Walton County in 1830 but we find the folks populating the area that would become the community of Oak Grove in both the Escambia County census and some in the Walton County census. The following are in the Escambia County census for 1830: Thomas Baggett, Edmund Baggett, Absalom Stokes, Reuben Hart, Jr., Norman Morrison, Powell Smith, Rachel Devereaux, Wright Gascon (Gaskin), Robert McKennon, Reuben Hart Sr, Eli Horne, Isaac Hart, Joab Horne, Reuben Barrow, David Gartman, John Hart, and Jesse Senterfitt. The 1830 Walton County census is a bit trickier to pull the names out of, but not impossible, to at least identify some of the early settlers for Oak Grove and vicinity. They are near the end of the census as follows: Stephen Centerfitt (Senterfitt), John Stegall, Thomas Snowden, Peter Campbell, John McArthur, Jeremiah Savell, Celestine Philabert, Richard J. Compton, Allen McKaskill (McCaskill), Elizabeth Barrow (widow of John Barrow), John Campbell, Margaret McKaskill (McCaskill), and Jesse Dubose. This is a rough cut of names so I may have missed a few but we have a good start on the community.  Let’s do a bit of consolidating and sorting on these folks.

Those starting in NC and migrating to FL (based on census and family histories):

  1. Thomas and Edmund Baggett (father and son) – NC/GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  2. Norman Morrison – NC/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  3. Robert McKinnon – NC/SC/FL
    • 6 enslaved persons: 1 F 24<36, 1 F 10<24, 1 F <10, 3 M <10
  4. Reuben Hart, Sr. – NC/GA/FL/AL
    • 6 enslaved persons: 1 F 24<36, 3 F 10<24, 1 M 10<24, 1 M <10
  5. Joab Horne – NC/GA/FL
    • 11 enslaved persons: 1 F 55<100, 2 F 36<55, 1 F <10, 1 M 55<100, 1 M 36<55, 1 M 24<36, 3 M 10<24, 1 M <10
  6. John Steagall – NC/GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  7. Peter and John Campbell (brothers) – NC/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  8. John McArthur – NC/FL/AL
    • No enslaved persons
  9. Allen McCaskill – NC/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  10. Margaret McCaskill – NC/FL
    • 6 enslaved persons: 1 F 55,100, 1 F 10<24, 1 F <10, 1 M 10<24, 2 M <10

Those starting in SC and migrating to FL (based on census and family histories):

  1. Absalom Stokes – SC/FL/AL
    • No enslaved persons
  2. Wright Gaskin – SC/GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  3. David Gartman (son-in-law of Joab Horne) – SC/GA/FL
    • 4 enslaved persons: 1 F 24,36, 1 F <10, 1 M 10<24, 1 M <10
  4. Jesse Senterfitt (Stephen’s brother, step-brother of John Barrow) – SC/GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  5. Stephen Senterfitt (Jesse’s brother, step-brother of John Barrow) – SC/GA/FL
    • 1 enslaved person: 1 M <10
  6. Thomas Snowden – SC/FL
    • 1 enslaved person: 1 M 10<24
  7. Richard J. Compton – SC/FL/AL
    • 6 enslaved persons: 1 F 36<55, 1 M 55<100, 1 M 36<55, 1 M 10<24, 2 M <10
  8. Jesse Dubose – SC/FL/AL
    • No enslaved persons

Remaining (Unknown, LA & GA) (based on census and family histories):

  1. Reuben Hart, Jr. – GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  2. Powell Smith – Unknown
    • No enslaved persons
  3. Rachel Devereaux (likely Muskogee (family history ethnicity), Cherokee or mixed blood, listed as a free person of color) – GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  4. Eli Horne (likely relative of Joab) – Unknown
    • 1 enslaved person: 1 F 36<55
  5. Isaac Hart (son of Reuben, Sr.) – GA/FL/AL
    • No enslaved persons
  6. Reuben (N) Barrow (son of John & Elizabeth Barrow) – GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  7. John Hart (son of Reuben, Sr.) – GA/FL
    • No enslaved persons
  8. Celestine Philabert – LA/FL
    • 1 enslaved person: 1 F <10
  9. Elizabeth Barrow (widow of John Barrow) – GA/FL
    • 4 enslaved persons: 1 F 10<24, 1 F <10, 1 M 36<55, 1 M <10

These families may or may not have all be in Oak Grove “proper”. This list may include some folks who were slightly outside of the geographic area we defined in the previous post and either around what would become Blackman or were in Almirante. Census can be tricky to use in determining locations within a county but I believe it is a good look at the families who settled in and around Oak Grove based on my own genealogical research on a number of these families. Most of these families had a stopover in Georgia for some length of time. Reuben Hart, Sr. was supposed to have migrated from south-central Georgia with some other families, though he was born in NC. It would be interesting to determine how many of these could have been moving together. Families who moved together were often related somehow and could lead to brick walls falling for family historians/genealogists from the area.

It would seem safe to say the following about Oak Grove in its early years as Barrow’s Ferry: 1) It was settled by somewhere between 30 and 50 families initially (I heard as a child that it was settled by 50 families so we may still be missing some), 2) Nearly all of the families originated in the U.S. in North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia, 3) A large number of these families lived in Georgia for some period of time before migrating to Florida, 4) A number of these families are known to be related and many more may be since they may have migrated together from Georgia, 5) Some percentage of these families are believed to be Scots-Irish or Scottish in heritage though many of the Scots-Irish that settled in Walton Co settled across the river and much further east.

In a final statistical look, let’s look at totals of persons by category:

White Males         91   41%
White Females       75   34%
Enslaved Males      28   13%
Enslaved Females    21    9%
FPC Males            3    1%
FPC Females          5    2%

Most of these persons, or their children, will appear in the next post when we will look at the petition to Congress of 1839 and the 1840 census for Walton Co, FL.

For Sale:

13 thoughts on “So You Think You Know Oak Grove, Okaloosa Co, FL? – Part 2

  1. Pingback: So You Think Your Know Oak Grove, Okaloosa Co, FL – Part 3 – Northwest Florida History

  2. Pingback: So You Think Your Know Oak Grove, Okaloosa Co, FL – Part 3 – Northwest Florida History

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  6. Joab Horn was a veteran of the Revolution and is said to have fought with Francis Marion, the Dubose gentelmen in the area is probably a relative of the Horn family. Joab Horn was the father of Eli Horne and father-in-law of David Gartman (his first wife was Drucilla Horne). Joab’s will was contested between Eli Horne and David Gartman and went to the Florida Supreme Court in the 1840’s.
    I am descended from Joab through his daughter Elizabeth Cole of Coffee County AL.

    But, my mother’s family came to Florida in the 1820’s and settled on the Choctawhatchee River in Holmes County (formerly Washington, Walton and Jackson). My ancestor Isaac Pittman established Pittman’s Ferry near where Hwy 2 crosses the Choctawhatchee River. My Great-Great-Great Grandfather, George Washington Pittman served in the the Union Army out of Ft. Barancas and received a Union Pension, all after serving in the Confederate Army. Our family story relays that this was because he came home from the Confederate Army after being captured and released (and considered it a lost cause that he would not return to), but was hounded by the Confederate guards and the Union Army trying to either enlist or arrest men that were not serving. Have you ever talked to Dale Cox (Jackson County Historian) about this?

    I enjoyed your stories and am wonder does your book about the First Florida Calvary include information on the entire unit or just the Okaloosa county men?


    • Good to meet you Lucinda. It is especially good to hear from a descendant of Joab Horne. Since I am working with Yellow River Baptist Church on their records and Stewart Cemetery, Joab is someone I find quite often in the early records of the area. I would like to email you directly about Joab if that’s okay.

      My Dad’s people are from Holmes Co, though your family were there about 25 years before some of his started getting there. I especially found your story about G. W. Pittman interesting. My book on the 1st Florida covers the panhandle before the war, a regimental history including the engagements the 1st FL participated in and which men were in each of the engagements, plus some basic info on each of the 704 men. You can find it at My Bookstore. Sounds like you’ve got some additional information on your ancestor who served with them that would be good to include in the next edition. I’ve talked with Dale about the 1st Florida but not specifically on the Confederate militia behaviors toward men who came home and stayed. Many of the men who did serve in the Confederacy before joining the 1st experienced the same problem.

      Thank you for getting in touch and let me know if we can email directly. Sharon


      • Yes, feel free to email me. I think we are both descended from Joab Horn – you through his daughter Drucilla Gartman and me through Elizabeth Cole.


    • Hello! Several years ago I found a reference to Pittman’s Ferry and Isaac Pittman in a published index to state papers, and ever since I’ve been trying to figure if it’s “my” Isaac Pittman (b. around 1767 NC, d. bef. 1860 Fla.) I haven’t had a chance to go to Tallahassee to look for the complete documents. I’d love to know more about his establishment of Pittman’s Ferry. I know it’s three years later, but if you can point me to more details, I would appreciate it. Contact through my blog


  7. Pingback: Oak Grove in Okaloosa County, FL: It’s Importance & Development in the History of the FL Panhandle | Northwest Florida History & Genealogy

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  9. Pingback: Updates and Links to My Posts on Oak Grove in Okaloosa County, FL | Northwest Florida History & Genealogy

  10. Fascinated to find this. Rahcel Devereurx is a direct ancestor of my niece. She was a full blood Muscogee Creek Indian. On I see people listing her adopted last name as Barron, but I have yet to find a shred of evidence to support that. I feel like Barrow and Barron is too closely related for it to be a coincidene, though. By the time she got to Florida her husband had died. She had more than 10 kids, all of whom would have had the last name Devereux. One of them married a Tarvin/Turvin, who’s last name I also see listed in the membership of the church. Here’s my question – is the Nancy Spears, a black member, who you listed the same one who’s maiden name was Addison? Was she born in 1855 or thereabouts? Anything more you know about Rachel Devereux and/or Nancy Spears/Spiers or whether Barrow’s Ferry and the last name of Barron might be related would be amazing help!


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