Friday, November 9, 2012

Sister Springs Baptist Cemetery Interlachen, FL

Florida is full of cemeteries, many of them old, abandoned and uncared for.  One of the goals of the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) is to record as many of Florida's cemeteries as possible on the Florida Master Site File (FMSF).  This provides a form of protection for our old cemeteries as it maintains records on cemetery location, condition and information in a publicly accessible format.  Old cemeteries have a better chance of not getting lost in time as memories fade, vegetation obscures or development erases these historical treasures.

Last week, I traveled to Interlachen in Putnam County to assist a cemetery preservationist to record her church's cemetery on the FMSF.  What I found was a gem of a cemetery where almost everything was done correctly, an example of best practices in cemetery care and preservation.  The cemetery was an old one, first established in 1878 by the Baptist Church in Interlachen.  Some of the head stones had disappreared or decayed but records were maintained and old parishoners were interviewed so that those buried there were not lost to time.

Headstone erected to commemorate missing headstones

Names of those buried but burial locations lost

The church's congregation erected a common headstone for those known to be buried in the cemetery but the burial location was unknown.  For those who had lost a marker but the location of the burial was known, the church placed a small headstone on the grave with the name and dates of birth and death.  In this way, a memorial marker was erected for all those loved ones who were buried in Sister Springs Cemetery even if the headstone had disappeared.

Replacement marker when original headstone was lost but location was known
Sister Springs Cemetery is well maintained.  Once a month, the cemetery grounds are lovingly cared for.   Vegetation is controlled and headstones are cleaned according to best practices using products that do not destroy the stone or erase the inscriptions.  Last October, members of the Church Cemetery Committee invited FPAN to present a CRPT Training workshop on cemetery maintenance.  Only recommended cleaning products and methods are now used to preserve and maintain this cherished old cemetery. 

                                     IMAGES OF SISTER SPRINGS BAPTIST CEMETERY

If you have a cemetery that you care for or know of one that could use a little loving care, call or e-mail the Florida Public Archaeology Network or visit our website.  We will assist you to record your cemetery on the FMSF and we will be happy to schedule a Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) workshop in your county.

Call Toni Wallace, Site Specialist, FPAN - Northeast Regional Center @ Flagler College 904-501-9449, twallace, or Amber Grafft-Weiss, Outreach Coordinator, FPAN - NE, 904-819-6498,       

Let's have all of our old Florida cemeteries cared for and protected with a listing on the Florida Master Site File.

Images by Amber Grafft-Weiss

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