The Town of Livingston

First appeared in the March 10, 1961 issue of the Madison Enterprise-Recorder.

In 1844, the first real estate development in Madison County occurred.

Within a short distance from the Suwannee river, which had not yet become famous by Stephen Collins Foster's immortal song and in the very shadows of what, thirty years later, would be George F. Drew's grandiose home, Reddin W Parramore, a Georgia visionary, founded the Town of Livingston.

The peace that followed the first Seminole Indian War, which ended in 1942, brought a tranquil and heretofore unheard of period of prosperity to the Suwannee River valley. For instance, by 1843, there were two well  known schools operating in the county and the Masonic Lodge in Madison was in the process of erecting the St. Johns Seminary of Learning. Rhydon G Mays was manufacturing sugar in quantity on his farm and steamboats were plying the Suwannee river as far north as Livingston's Ferry and Wharf. William B Nutal, for whom Nutal Rise was named, had a few years before constructing a canal with slave labor that connected the Wacissa and Aucilla rivers. Prospects were favorable that this new project would bring a vast new region into production. Moreover, rumors were afloat in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia of the rich Florida soil, its forest abounding in game and its rivers and lakes teeming with fish. Dreams of easier living and a milder climate where land could be purchased for a mere song were bringing hordes of immigrants to Florida and Madison County.

These no doubt were some of the many motivating thoughts which prompted Reddin Parramore to undertake the bold adventure such as building a town. Of course, just the right location was all important. It must be on high dry land, have a generous water supply, and have a good transportation potential. Elisha Summerlin Constable had, “according to law publicly advertised the sale of eighty acres of land and described as the East half of the Northwest quarter, of Section 33, Twn 1 South, Range 11 East which he had levied upon.” The public sale was for the purpose of satisfying a judgment  of $24.88 which Thomas M Palmer had obtained against Thomas Livingston. The sale was advertised to “take place on the 23 day of November 1843 within the legal hours, at the Court House in Madison,” (see Deed Book “C” page 383, Clerk's Office, Madison County Records).

Parramore knew the tract of land being advertised and concluded it was ideal for a town site. There was not a town within fifteen miles distance; it was on the main road which connected the east and west territory of Florida. No information is available to indicate that this sale attracted much attention. The record simply says: “Whereas, at said sale, the said Reddin W Parramore was the highest bidder therefor in the aggregate the sum of One Dollar for said lot of land as before described. And the same was them and there knocked off to him.”

For one dollar, Parramore purchased his town site and shortly the eighty acres were divided into lots, streets and parks. Why he chose Livingston as the name of his town is not presently known. Perhaps it was because Thomas Livingston was the former owner of the property and who was known to have been his good friend, or it may have been because the town site was near the well known ferry and wharf of that name.

By the Spring of 1844, everything was in readiness for the sale of lots to begin. He had advertised his development far afield and well. The following is the advertisement as it appeared in the March 19, 1844, issue of The Florida Sentinel, a newspaper published in Tallahassee:

Sale of Lots

In The  Town of Livingston

“On the fifth day of April next, (1844) will be offered for sale the lots in the above town, situated on the West Bank of the Suwannee river. The situation of this town offers advantages both on the score of health and commercial facilities which no other point on this river presents. Its healthfulness cannot be questioned, it being on a high dry, Black-Jack Ridge. It is one half mile distance from the river and there is not a swamp, lagoon or hammock within a mile and one half of it.

Great Commercial Advantages

Its commercial advantages are still more striking. It is at the head of Steam Boat navigation and directly on route connecting the Eastern and Western sections of the territory. Owing to the peculiar course of the river, it is the nearest point on said river to all the rich cotton growing lands tributary thereto.

Railroad & A Modern Bridge To Be Built!

The proprietor pledges himself, prior to the first of October next, to construct a railroad connecting the Town and the River. Also, to erect a modern bridge for across the Withlacoochee River at some convenient point for the accommodation of Hamilton County, Florida and lower counties of Georgia. Persons wishing a situation either for business or a permanent healthy residence will do well to pay a visit to this place.”

Signed:

Reddin W. Parramore

Just how many banners and streamers were used or arrow signs to point out the way to this sale and the barrels of 'pink' lemonade consumed to promote a spirited auction, research thus far fails to show.

The records do not record that any lots were sold. It is safe to say, in contrast to the fabulous sums which were spent in Florida on colonization schemes some eighty years later that no great sums of money were lost from investments made in the town of Livingston.

Although Reddin Parramore's dream of building a metropolis did not materialize, he did show his faith in the future growth and a courage to venture in the development of Madison County. His untimely death in 1851 removed one of the most influential citizens of his day in Madison County. He has many descendants living in Madison today.

-Carlton Smith

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