INVESTIGATING DOZIER ~ Pt. 1: More Than A Feeling..

 

January 2018…

  We had maybe been back from our New Year’s trip (and our most recent visit to Dozier!) for a week OR 2 & I still couldn’t shake the feeling that We’d missed something…I took some time to do some more research & landed on the Florida Archives website, specifically Florida Memory & began to look through the hundreds of photos stored in their online database. The photos were from as far back as the 1920’s with the bulk of them having been taken in the 50’s & 60’s. There were pictures of the property in various stages of being built, pictures of the school grounds covered in holiday decorations, pictures of events that were held at the grounds for the Boys & then I landed on my 1st one…A picture of a group of boys building a Christmas display. The next was a black and white shot of the school choir. I kept scrolling & clicking…More shots of the boys, playing sports, in class, at events, building/repairing structures, working in fields & on & on they went. 

 

 

RETURN TO SQUARE ONE…

  Sometimes you have to step away, clear the cobwebs & return with a fresh view. Yeah, I’m way to pig headed to do that, so I went back to the Archive index & pressed on, swearing frequently. I began looking again at random Dozier photos…Undeveloped land, events & the Boys. Boy’s playing sports, in the choir, in class, sitting under a tree on the North Campus & in front of a….WAIT, NORTH CAMPUS!?!? I thought that’s where we had been! I scrolled back to a few previous photos of some of the buildings & Ariel shots of the property BUT there weren’t any written labels OR flashing neon signs saying “YOU ARE HERE!” I kept going & there it was…A newspaper article of a funeral taking place in front of a church…The same church that we had stood in front of just weeks earlier trying to get pictures of what we thought was the one & ONLY Dozier Campus from a different view…

 

 

  I began furiously digging through websites looking for any type of map that would definitively tell me what was what & found 2 images that were the answer to my prayers. The 1st was a a very detailed blueprint of the school grounds & the 2nd was a hand drawn map of the school that not only identified the campus BUT the general area of the Boothill Cemetery! FINALLY! HOLY…HELL! We’d been so focused on trying to access what we thought was the ONLY Dozier Campus that it NEVER entered my mind to at least walk up to the church to have a look around! Had this been what was causing this little whisper in my brain for weeks now??

 

  After further research, the answer was “YES!” Apparently we had been visiting the VERY locked up & guarded “South Campus” of the Arthur G Dozier School for Boys & had stood only several feet away from the VERY open “North Campus” unbeknownst to us. Of course,  even as these new facts presented themselves, I was thinking that the church was it for the “North Campus” & that the ONLY possibility would be that we’d go back to Marianna, look more closely at the church & maybe find another graveyard behind it.

 

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  I wouldn’t actually know how wrong I was for about another month….

 


LINKS:

FLORIDA MEMORY: https://www.floridamemory.com

STATE ARCHIVEShttp://dos.myflorida.com/library-archives/about-us/about-the-state-archives-of-florida/

 

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