Magnolia Florida, long gone and almost forgotten

“Magnolia, Florida was a thriving river port town in southern Wakulla County, Florida (until 1843, Leon County, Florida), established in the 1820s and is classified as an “extinct city” by the State Library and Archives of Florida. All that remains of the city is the rundown cemetery – the last known burial was in 1859.[1] The cemetery is on land now owned by the St. Joe Paper Company. The town was located near the small city of St. Marks, Florida.” – Wikipedia

People Playing Croquet in Magnolia – Florida Memory Project photo

When I was little, the old-timers in Tallahassee, Florida spoke of the extinct town of Magnolia, south of town on the St. Marks River, that developers once hoped would be a port city for cotton and other products.

There was nothing left of the town but a small cemetery that local ghost enthusiasts claimed was haunted. If you live in Tallahassee now and have been around for a while, you might recall that between 1963 and 1977, Elizabeth F. Smith captured the spirit of the area in her publication “The Magnolia Monthly” out of Crawfordville, Florida.

Magnolia–not to be confused with Magnolia Springs in Florida’s Clay county–was well-planned, but failed because the Railroad needed for its survival bypassed it and went to St. Marks instead. The town was founded by the Ladd family which you can learn more about here.

The remains of that railroad came up for sale when I was younger, and I thought then that it would make a nice tourist attraction. Never happened, for better or worse, though it might have improved the financial status of Wakulla County.

But my fascination for the town, the river, and the slash pine forests owned by the paper company stayed with me. I mention the town in my short story “Sweetbay Magnolia” in my new short story collection Widely Scattered Ghosts. In fact, the grandmother in the story had a house in Magnolia and the sweetbay magnolia in her back yard reminds her of old days and old loves.

As always, it’s the real places that get my attention.


All that remains of the town. Florida Memory Project photo.




Magnolia might help you keep your spouse at home

If you live in the South, you’ve probably seen ancient magnolia trees in the woods all your life, and possibly you’ve stopped by a local nursery on more than a few occasions to add the dark green leaves and white flowers to your yard. In Florida where I grew up, we had the Southern Magnolia and the Sweetbay Magnolia. Your local native nursery is a good place to start, or if you want to know more about the tree in general, stop by the Magnolia Society International and take a look at their resources tab for practical information.

Sweetbay Magnolia - Wikipedia photo
Sweetbay Magnolia – Wikipedia photo

The society notes that there are more than 200 species of the shrub/tree which are found in ” temperate, subtropical and tropical areas of southeastern Asia, eastern North America, Central America, the Caribbean and parts of South America. Many are now grown worldwide because of their beautiful flowers, shape and form.”

Medical Uses

Like many plants, the bark and leaves of magnolias have been made into medicine. Purportedly, the magnolia has been used to combat indigestion, stress, headaches, stroke and other aliments–including toothache. I can’t speak to the safety or efficacy of any of these, though you can find a blurb about it on WebMD here.

In the conjure department

While researching my 2015 novella Conjure Woman’s Cat, I found that a lot of the plants I walked by in the Florida woods when I was young can be used for all sorts of magical purposes. For example, if you check out the web site of the Ritual Witch, you’ll find a section called Southern Magnolia Hoodoo.  Oils, bath salts, candles and mojo bags with a magnolia flavor to them can ramp up your romance.

magnoliahoodooOr, if you have your own magnolia tree in the yard and want to make sure your spouse isn’t following his or her wandering eye, hide or sew some of the leaves into your mattress.

This is cheaper than hiring a private detective and supposedly stops any “oops moments” from happening. There are a few more graphic spells and mojo bags that I’ll leave to your imagination, most of which seem to be sought after by jealous wives–yes, that sounds sexist, but I’m just reporting facts from my research.

As Catherine Yronwode mentions in her very handy “Hoodoo, Herb and Root Magic Book,” Will Batts recorded a song back in 1933 that said he didn’t want a jealous women because she would “put somethin’ in the mattress, make you wish you was dead.”  I have no experience with this, but why tempt fate?

Love magic and keeping your lover at home magic have always been a widely practiced area of conjure. Find a plant, and somebody has found a magical use for it. A quick Google search with the words “root doctor” or “conjure” in it along with the name of a plant or mineral will turn up more than most of us ever dreamt was out there.

Magnolia is more than a pretty flower it would seem.


KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the novella “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” about a conjure woman who fights the KKK with folk magic and a very loyal cat.