Jackson County, Florida
Historic Sites and Research
Waddell's Mill Pond
|Waddell's Mill Pond
Seen here from the spring at the head of the
pond, this man-made impoundment has been
a Jackson County landmark for more than
100 years. The spring which feeds it has been
a focal point of local life for even longer.
An important source of water for the Chipola
River, Waddell's Mill Pond and the spring that
feeds it are the centerpieces of an assembly of
historic sites that are among the most important in
Archaeological research here has revealed the
presence of two mounds, a palisaded village site
and cave habitations dating from the last century or
two before the arrival of the Spanish in Florida.
The people who occupied these sites undoubtedly
were the ancestors of the Chacatos or Chatot (not
to be confused with the Choctaw), who lived along
the upper Chipola River during the 16th and 17th
century. The Waddell's Mill Pond Site has been
partially excavated and is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places.
There has been some speculation that the 17th
century Spanish mission of San Carlos de Chacatos
might have been located adjacent to the large cave
at Waddell's Mill Pond. Franciscan missionaries
established this church in 1674 at a Chacato village
somewhere west of the Chipola River. Research at
the site, however, has thus far failed to reveal any
evidence of a historic Spanish presence.
The Waddell's Mill Pond area began its second
important historical phase in 1821 when Florida
was transferred to the United States from Spain.
Coming down the "Spring Creek Trail," early
settlers drifted across the line from Alabama into
this part of Jackson County even before the official
transfer. Since the spring that now feeds the pond
created a free-flowing stream with plenty of water,
a string of farms quickly developed along its
course. At one of these, owned by the "widow
Russ," the first court of Jackson County met
shortly after the county was established in 1823.
Throughout the territorial era (1821-1845), large
plantations were established in the mill pond area.
By the time of the Civil War, the spring and
surrounding property were owned by John R.
Waddell. A successful businessman and planter,
Waddell dammed the stream flowing across his land
to create the mill pond as we know it. Later
enlarged, the mill pond remains as a particularly
beautiful Jackson County landmark. Surrounded by
rich farmland, the pond area abounds in wildlife.
The head of the pond, where the primary spring
and caves are located, is on private property today.
The lower end of the pond, however, which
includes the dam and flowing stream, is now owned
by the Northwest Florida Water Management
District. The District hopes to eventually acquire
the rest of the property here, insuring its
permanent preservation as an important water
source for the Chipola River.