Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Cemetery Log Date: May 5, 2014 

The cemetery description provided below (which begins, "A distressing....) is a repost of last year's May 31 #CaDiM blog, Oaklynn Cemetery in Edgewater, Florida. I am bringing this to light because a lot can change in 1 short year! The friends of Oakylnn Group (though they're now called the Oaklynn Cemetery Association!) is still quite active, and they have continued cleaning the cemetery on a once-a-month-basis. In addition, the group has taken multiple variations of FPAN's CRPT course, placing special emphasis on burial laws, and cleaning and maintenance practices in the field. With FPAN's training, the Association has developed a greater sense of autonomy with their work at Oaklynn.  Further still, the group is in talks with a brick mason that is going to help restore some of the tombs and curbing at the site. 

David Cooper is no longer with the group, but there remains a group of highly motivated individuals and ancestors.Currently, the president of the group is ancestor Melvin Brown, and Linda Thompson is the acting mediator between the Oaklynn Cemetery Association and the property owner, John Massey. In and of itself, it is wonderful that there is now active communication between the group and Massey. This level of negotiation simply wasn't occurring some 6-12 months ago.

We're happy to report that negotiations are going well, and Massey would like to see the rest of the foliage removed around the cemetery, and for a locked, gated fence to be erected on the side that parallels the road. Fencing would provide much-needed security at the site, which was negatively impacted by vandalism in years' past. This is immense progress for a group just starting to "find its feet" at the beginning of last year. The group has not yet attained 501c3 status for the state of Florida, but they are in the early stages of completing the paperwork that is necessary to do so,. 


Please stay tuned to the FPAN Northeast Facebook page and this blog for photo and progress updates from Oaklynn Cemetery.  



Cemetery Log: May 31, 2013

A distressing finishing to CaDiM, but the best reminder that historic cemeteries are fragile and endangered.   



Oaklynn Cemetery in Edgewater is a place that comes in and out of the news every decade or so.  It is the resting place of many early to mid 20th century African-Americans in this southern Volusia County city.  The records for the cemetery are lost, so the exact number of those interred is impossible to know.  The cemetery measures about 6 acres, but only one acre is accessible thanks to the clean up efforts of the descendants and volunteers who have come forward.

One such volunteer is David Cooper.  I had the chance to sit down with David, his cohort Shauntay, and descendant Gwendolyn Tobler this week.  I was struck by the commitment of all three, and many of those mentioned but who I have not met yet, and their future vision for the cemetery.  While covered in dense brush and scrub, I could imagine a place where descendants (and adoptees like David and Shauntay) could walk the grounds, tell stories of those not too long gone, and meet several times a year to share sweat as the continue to maintain the grounds.

For David and the families, this day seems far off.  As was recommended with San Sebastian yesterday, a Friends of Oaklynn Cemetery 501c3 needs to be established for sustained, coordinated efforts.  They will need to work with the landowner to establish regular clean up days so the families can visit and tend to the graves.  They will also need to set up a trust, or some way to carry donations into the projected future so there are funds for maintenance.  Oaklynn is an excellent candidate for grants in aid and for future preservation student projects.  Many of the crypts are so badly damaged, they are beyond re-pointing.  They will need to be restored so they may enclose the ground intended to preserve the memory of a loved one lost.

Over the past month I've heard a lot of praise and blame surrounding cemeteries.  One of the most hurtful moments was last week.  While talking about a vandalized cemetery a man approached me to listen in and ask questions.  His ears were open, his mind concerned, until he could confirm the cemetery I spoke of was not "his" family cemetery.   Then he walked away.  Cemeteries like many of those featured this month rely on upkeep and maintenance by a party willing to assume the responsibility.  It makes sense when the party are descendants, and it gives me great hope when they are not. Historic cemeteries are everyone's responsibility.  Kudos to David and others like him for stepping up, becoming part of the community, and including anyone interested in helping protect our past.


Who: On private property, name intentionally withheld
What: Early 20th C African-American burial grounds with significant vandalism
Where: Runs along Air Park Road in Edgewater near the airport, Map
When: Only descendants have rights to be on property, contact David Cooper to volunteer
Why:
  • Without care, and soon, this cemetery could disappear from the landscape
  • Demonstrates importance of frequent monitoring and reporting of cemetery condition
  • Interesting test case for preservation laws, including Chapter 704 which grants access and rights to upkeep to descendents when on private property
    Most of the cemetery is covered in brush, as seen in photo.



    May 31 2013 Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff.  Images March 2010, submitted to FMSF.  
    May 6 2014 Text: Ryan Harke

    For previous posts search: Cemetery a Day in May or #CaDiM 

    2014 #CaDiM posts

    2013 #CaDiM posts

    IntroMay 1: NationalMay 2: OakdaleMay 3: Murphy's CreekMay 4: Mt. OliveMay 5: Bosque BelloMay 6: Old CityMay 7: EspanolaMay 8: TolomatoMay 9: PacettiMay 10: West ViewMay 11: Magnolia Springs,  May 12: St. Peter'sMay 13: Gravely HillMay 14: Pilgrim's RestMay 15: God's Little AcreMay 16: Dummet's GraveMay 17: No NameMay 18: St. MonicaMay 19: St. Joseph'sMay 20:  Old St. Joseph's (Duval)May 21: SampsonMay 22: Fernandez ReserveMay 23: St. AmbroseMay 24: Sons of IsraelMay 25: SanksvilleMay 26: HuguenotMay 27: Nombre de DiosMay 28: Beresford,May 29: JonesMay 30: San Sebastian/Pinehurst, May 31: Oaklynn

    3 Responses so far.

    1. My name is John Linnell I have started to clean up Evergreen Cemetery in Ocala fl.We have donetwo so far and my long term goal is to try and rebuild as much of it as I can. Wanted to know if you guys are doing the same thing or just trying to clean up all the under brush

    2. John,
      I think the group is trying to restore some of it as well. They've worked on the underbrush and cleaning headstones up until now. They have recently found some volunteers to help with a few more technical aspects, like repointing box tombs. If you send me an email, I can put you in touch with some of them. They'd love to share their experiecnes!

      Emily Jane
      emurray@flagler.edu

    3. I RECENTLY MOVED TO EDGEWATER.FL AND DISCOVERED THE CEMETERY ON AIRPARK.RD I CANT BELEAVE OUR VET'S MEN WHO PUT THERE LIVES ON THE LINE FOR THIS COUNTRY ARE BEING DISGRACED LIKE THIS. THIS PLACE IS HORRIBLE WHY DONT THE OWNERS DO ANY THING TO FIX THIS PROBLEM I TALKED TO THE MAYOR HE SAID HE CANGT DO ANY THING BECAUSE OF THE OWENER I AM THINKING ABOUT GOING TO THE MEDIA TO SEE IF THY CAN HELP WITH THIS PROBLEM.MY EMAIL IS josephhighsmith53@gmail.com if you would like to talk to me first would welcome your feedback i will wait a few days before i do this if anyone would like to contact me joseph highsmith thanx

    - Copyright © Going Public - Skyblue - Powered by Blogger - Designed by Johanes Djogan -