Russ House Introduction, Marianna, Jackson County, Florida

The history of
The Russ House
Jackson County, Florida
Merritt Dekle
July 2000

All rights reserved!

In Memory of

Frances Russ Dickerson
"Big Mama" 1900 - 1989


I don't make it over to Marianna much anymore, however, as with any place that is in your roots and in your blood, it still lingers in my thoughts. The Marianna that exists in my mind, however, is not one accessible by the interstate. That town, to me, is a ghost town, and the people there that I knew and loved no longer walk its streets, but rest within its burial grounds. Though the remaining landmarks recall those times, they are now inhabited by strangers and are merely familiar stage sets.....the play and the cast has changed. Whenever one visits such a place, our senses acquiesce to memory and we walk through them as if we exist in a parallel dimension......our feet may be rooted in the present, but our head is lost in the past. It is an experience that is bittersweet, for we are comforted by the memories at the same time that we mourn them.

My family was among the original pioneers who arrived in the panhandle in the 1820s to settle the feral new territory. From that time until my mother's death in 1994, all subsequent generations of the family played out the joys and the sorrows that make up a human life. The house in which the last five generations of the family lived is still there, and is a familiar sight to both locals and motorists traveling though Marianna on Highway 90. That home, which we called "the Big House" is now called the Russ House.

The Russ family, the Dickerson family, and, finally, the Dekle family lived in the home until 1995 when it was given over to the Marianna Chamber of Commerce for a State funded rehabilitation to adapt it as their headquarters. What was formerly time-worn and tarnished is now fresh and pristine. Our family's intention in sacrificing our beloved home was the preservation of not only our own heritage, but that of Marianna's as well. Although, in the rehabilitation, as much history was lost as it was preserved, the past of the home can never be erased.

The Big House has always been an object of intense curiosity, as I learned myself in the early 1990s when I spent several years as it's sole resident. Seldom did a day go by when I was not approached by at least one person seeking information about the house, and on some days I felt like I was being stalked by the paparazzi; having a gas station in your front yard does not afford one much privacy. I heard many stories from local people about the house; some were distortions of the facts, some were fantastic fiction. Many stories involved the home's role in the Civil War, which was puzzling since it was not built until some thirty years later. It was said, by many, to be haunted. Whether it is or not, I'll let you decide. And so, for everyone who ever knocked on our front door, curious to know the story behind such an intriguing house, I now open that door and invite you in.

Welcome to the Big House; I'd like to introduce you to the family. Won't you please come in.......

Table of Contents

Reingolde Russ-of Cranford, County Suffolk, England. died c 1458 to Merritt Dekle 2000
History Russ House Russ Family Genealogy Family Pictures
Ghost of Times Past Nursery The Extended Family
Interiors Front Porch BackPorch
The Grounds Epilogue Russ House 2000
Botanical Satsuma Festival 1916 blank

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