Star (Cemetery) Log Date, Monday, 19 May 2014
Greetings #2014CaDiM 'ers Today we're taking a look at the African-American Masonic Cemetery in Palm Coast, Flagler County. This is an especially interesting cemetery because it arose a-midst widespread racism and segregation, especially among the Freemasons. Thus, it was often impossible for African-Americans to join existing Masonry guilds. Moreover, the [white] Masons often refused to recognize the Prince Hall Lodges in Florida (named after 'Prince Hall' an escaped slave that established a 'black' lodge in Boston way back in 1775) According to a survey performed in 2008, there are still 10 (41/51) Prince Hall Lodges (African-American) in the states that are STILL not recognized, though we're unsure if this Palm Coast cemetery is part of the 41. Regardless, this cemetery represents a microcosm of a much larger movement of black masons establishing their own communities and burial grounds.
The first known burial is PFC Versie Lee Mitchell of Bunnell, who drowned in January 1944, and was laid to rest sometime around June 2 1944, because his remains needed to be found and relocated from Camp Blanding. So the cemetery gets its start in 1944, and Flagler County records show that it was formally established and dedicated March 26, 1948.
|Masonic monument outside the cemetery|
|Masonic Cross Monument, One of numerous unmarked burials at the Cemetery|
WHO: Many of Florida's early African-American Freemasons. It holds the remains of WWI, WWII, and even some Korean war veterans. It also has the remains of numerous black families that were denied burial in separate white cemeteries during the 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. Finally, many African-American remains were relocated here after white folks constructed homes on other African-American burial grounds, and wanted to move the human remains.
|Interesting and beautiful monument at the Cemetery|
WHERE: Masonic Cemetery is located in Palm Coast, on the east side of Old Kings Road, ~1 mile N of State Rd. 100. It has 1 street sign (circa 2008), that reads 'Masonic Cemetery' in bold black font.
- Approximate address would be something like Old Kings Rd. South, Palm Coast, FL 32164
WHAT: An African-American freemason cemetery in old Palm Coast Florida. The cemetery is a historic testament to the old town of Bunnell, where blacks and whites were once divided by the railroad tracks of long-dead lumber and turpentine industries.
|View of Cemetery sign, gate|
*It is Palm Coast's oldest surviving human landmark
*There are approximately 540 burials, but this count is not complete nor conclusive, as many are unmarked, and still others are probably lost to unclear site boundaries.
*Local archaeologist Dana St. Clair (along with other groups) has been working to create a kiosk or monument for this important and yet mostly abandoned African-American Cemtery
*The cemetery was rededicated and partially rezoned after construction in summer 2010 along the Kings Rd. itself. Many of the headstones were cleaned and repaired during this time.
*The cemetery predates the town of Palm Coast by several decades!
*African-Americans can still purchase plots here for a more inexpensive price than other local cemeteries
*The original King's Rd, constructed by the British near the end of their occupation in the 1770s, is still visible on the west side of the present King's Rd, directly across the street from the cemetery!
*the land for Masonic Cemetery was purchased by the Espanola Lodge for $1 from Lewis Edward Wadsworth II and his wife, Angela Augusta Carpenter Wadsworth on March 26, 1948!!
Check out the Florida Black History Trail for a feature on the cemetery!
Text by Ryan Harke, FPAN staff, full credit to www.findagrave.com, www.flaglercountyfamilies.com, www.flaglerlive.com, www.visitFlorida.com, www.historiccity.com and the Florida Black Heritage Trail for history-related text and photographs.
To locate more Northeast Florida Cemetery posts, search "Cemetery a Day in May" or #CaDiM
2013 #CaDiM posts
Intro, May 1: National, May 2: Oakdale, May 3: Murphy's Creek, May 4: Mt. Olive, May 5: Bosque Bello, May 6: Old City, May 7: Espanola, May 8: Tolomato, May 9: Pacetti, May 10: West View, May 11: Magnolia Springs, May 12: St. Peter's, May 13: Gravely Hill, May 14: Pilgrim's Rest, May 15: God's Little Acre, May 16: Dummet's Grave, May 17: No Name, May 18: St. Monica, May 19: St. Joseph's, May 20: Old St. Joseph's (Duval), May 21: Sampson, May 22: Fernandez Reserve, May 23: St. Ambrose, May 24: Sons of Israel, May 25: Sanksville, May 26: Huguenot, May 27: Nombre de Dios, May 28: Beresford, May 29: Jones, May 30: San Sebastian/Pinehurst, May 31: Oaklynn