Sunday, October 5, 2008


I grew up in the panhandle of Florida and have driven Hwy 98, which runs along the coast many times but never had any idea it was somewhere I would later search for missing family. About 10 years ago I started looking for the grave of Elizabeth Green Wentworth. She was the sister of my great grandfather and my dad found two old letters in a family bible, written by her husband in 1889.

Elizabeth married James Hamilton Wentworth in 1883 in Taylor County Florida and they soon moved to Pensacola. James Hamilton Wentworth was a colorful person, a civil war veteran who was held as a POW and wrote a very detailed diary while in prison. He later worked as an Attorney, County Judge, School Teacher, Superintendent of Taylor County Schools and finally as a Missionary Baptist Preacher. He worked for several churches in the Pensacola area and then Santa Rosa County.

Elizabeth soon had four children, a son Elmore Clinton Wentworth born on November 15, 1883, son Clifton in February 1885 and twins Aquila and Priscilla on January 11, 1889.

The two old letters talked of the problems she had during the birth of the twins, their death after just a couple days and her death soon after. The post mark on the letters was Bilowry, Santa Rosa County Florida.

There was a town in Santa Rosa County called Billowry but it was not formed until after 1900. I found an old map of Florida from 1888 that showed a Bilowry in Santa Rosa County. It was located just off Hwy 98 on a small stretch of land between the gulf and Pensacola bay. Most of the property in this area is now part of Eglin Air Force base. There was a post office there for a few years but it was disbanded.

Elizabeth was the third wife of James Wentworth. His other two had died in Taylor County Florida and he had buried both of them in church cemeteries. I figured he would have done the same for Elizabeth but I have not located any church cemeteries that date back to 1889.

I've had help from several people who live in the area who went out to the oldest cemeteries in Santa Rosa County but so far haven't located the graves.
The may be on the air base property so that will be the next place to look. Hopefully they have surveyed and preserved any historic sites on the base.


christocyr said...

I live in Robledal Estates, which is right where Bilowry is said to be located. The point on the map is actually called Axelson Point. This is because the Axelsons owned the property there, and had a shipyard there too. Many of the people here at Robledal have been studying our area, and may have more information for you. I do know that the Axelsons had a family cemetery there, and the graves were moved because they kept getting looted. As far as Cemeteries, you may want to try St. John's (where the Axelsons were re-buried, St. Michaels, or Euchee Valley Cemetery. We have found people who lived in our area buried there during those times. Also, the University of West Florida has an extensive special collection of documents and photos from the area too. Hope this helps!

Mark Green said...

Thanks for your comment. How could I contact the people in Robledal who have information on the history of the area?