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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Archive for 2017

Preliminary Program: CRPT Conference III

Final to be posted May 30th

Registration $60

Thursday, June 1, 8-5pm Flagler College, Reception 6-7:30 Corazon
8:00 am        Registration, Ringhaver Student Center, Flagler College
8:30 am        Welcome and introductions

8:45 am   Track A: Intro Cemetery Resources Protection Training (CRPT)
Recommended for first time CRPT attendees

     Introduction to Historic Cemetery Management
     Navigating Florida's Burial Laws
     Florida Master Site File
     Historic Cemeteries and Sea Level Rise   

8:45 am      Track B: Current Issues in Florida Cemeteries (20 minutes each)

Creating a Long-Term Management Plan for Tampa's Oldest Public Cemetery
Jeff Moates, FPAN West Central

Tales from the CRPT: Engaging College-Level Students in Local Archaeology (St. Lucie County, FL)  
Kyle Freund, Indian River State College, and Kevin Gidusko, FPAN East Central

The Cemetery Dash: Monitoring Cemeteries through HMS Florida
Rachael Kangas, FPAN Southwest

Memorializing the Sons of Israel in North Florida: A Comparison of the St. Augustine and Gainesville Historic Jewish Cemeteries
David Markus, University of Florida

Estate Land for Sale, "Families Included"
Shelby Bender, East Hillsborough Historical Society

The Differences in Cemetery Management: Public versus Private 
Megan Liebold, FPAN Northeast

Past Reality Meets Reality Television and Social Media: How Perceptions of a Slave Cemetery Help Frame Education, Outreach, and Scholarship
Dr. Helen Blouet, Utica College

The Silent History of Forgotten Lives Buried in Paradise
Dr. Alisha Winn, Storm of '28 Memorial Park Coalition, Inc

Lunch on your own

1 pm Panel: Disaster Management for Cemeteries During Crisis and Calm
   Anne Lewellen, National Park Service
   Elizabeth Gessener, Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association
   Jennifer Wolfe, City of St. Augustine
   Margo Stringfield, UWF Archaeology Institute

3:30 pm Special session: Forgotten Cemeteries of St. Augustine
Featuring preliminary findings of the recent Los Remedios Burials
   Dr. Kathleen Deagan, Florida Museum of Natural History, UF
   Carl Halbirt, City of St. Augustine
   Dr. John Krigbaum, University of Florida

6-7:30 pm Awards Reception and Keynote, Corazon Cinema and Cafe

Florida's Historic Cemeteries: Significance and Salvation
Margo Stringfield, M.A., Research Archaeologist 
University of West Florida Archaeology Institute

Friday, June 2, 8am-12pm, hands-on work stations and trolley tour
Tolomato Cemetery: limewashing and headstone cleaning
Huguenot Cemetery: digital scanning and documentation

Track A:  8 am Tolomato Cemetery/9 am Huguenot Cemetery    
Track B: 8 am Huguenot Cemetery/9 am Tolomato Cemetery

Tour of Cemeteries at Risk -  meet at the trolley stop north of Parking Garage

Lunch on your own downtown St. Augustine

1- 5 pm Jay's Corner, 1st Floor Ringhaver Student Center, Flagler College
Free and open to the public

1 pm Forming an American Gravestones Studies Florida Chapter Round Table

2 pm Special Topics in Cemetery Preservation and Interpretation (30 min. each)
     Genealogy and Archival Research for Cemeteries, Vishi Garig, Clay County Archives
     Bringing Cemeteries Alive: Interpretation of Historic Cemeteries, Matthew Armstrong, UF
     Engaging Communities in Cemetery Preservation, Margo Stringfield, UWF
     Documenting Historic Cemeteries in 3D, Kevin Gidusko, FPAN East Central
     Monitoring Cemeteries through HMS Florida, Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Northeast

Concluding remarks and evaluation


Speaker Bios and Presentation Abstracts (in order of agenda)

Creating a Long-Term Management Plan for Tampa's Oldest Public Cemetery
Jeff Moates, Director, Florida Public Archaeology Network, West Central and Central Regions

Abstract: Tampa's oldest public burying ground, Oaklawn Cemetery, prospers and declines through renewed management efforts every few decades. The City of Tampa wants to break this cycle and create a new management plan. The City and a local cemetery advocacy group invited FPAN to facilitate this effort. FPAN staff and USF Anthropology are now taking first steps with a mapping and remote sensing survey.

Jeff earned a M.A. in History/Historical Archaeology and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of West Florida. Jeff's work experiences prior to FPAN include employment as a field tech and crew chief with Archaeological Consultants, Inc, an underwater archaeologist for the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, and museum curator at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. Jeff enjoys coffee and mullet, but not necessarily at the same time.

Tales from the CRPT: Engaging College-Level Students in Local Archaeology (St. Lucie County, FL)
Dr. Kyle Freund, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Indian River State College
Kevin Gidusko, Public Archaeology Coordinator, Florida Public Archaeology Network East Central Region

Abstract: This paper discusses the Field Methods in Cemetery Archaeology course being offered at Indian River State College (IRSC), in which students are recording individual grave markers at historic cemeteries in St. Lucie County, Florida. Students study firsthand the diverse ways in which various cultural groups have commemorated those who have passed, and the information they collect becomes part of a larger publicly available database of Florida grave markers. Students gain an appreciation for the importance of preserving our community’s cultural heritage and the destructive risks that many local cemeteries face, in turn drawing a connection between the past and present. 

Dr. Kyle Freund was an undergrad at the University of Florida, holds a M.A. in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida and completed his Ph.D. in Anthropology at McMaster University (Ontario) before joining the faculty of Indian River State College in 2015. Prof. Freund's primary research centers on prehistoric farming communities of the central Mediterranean, with an emphasis on the reflexive relationship between material culture and long-term social processes. 

Kevin Gidusko graduated in 2011 from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in Anthropology and shortly after began work in FPAN’s East Central Region conducting public outreach and education. He has been in involved in historic and prehistoric archaeology in the Central Florida region since 2009. Kevin served as president of the Central Florida Anthropological Society from 2009-2015. He returned to UCF to work toward a Master’s degree in Anthropology where his research focuses on the use of ground penetrating radar, photogrammetry, geographic information systems (GIS), and other remote sensing applications in archaeology. His specialties include Florida archaeology, prehistoric archaeology, geophysical applications in archaeology, and public archaeology.

The Cemetery Dash: Monitoring Historic Cemeteries through HMS Florida
Rachael Kangas M.A., RPA, Public Archaeology Coordinator, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Southwest Region

Abstract: FPAN’s Heritage Monitoring Scout program kicked off in the fall of 2016 and a month after a challenge was issued: monitor every historic cemetery across the state! Or at least try for 50 out of the 1,300 recorded historic cemeteries listed on the Florida Master Site File. This presentation will demonstrate how the Cemetery Dash challenge launched in southwest Florida last fall and end on lessons learned for Scouts willing to take up the gauntlet in 2017.

Rachael Kangas earned her M.A. from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2015 and her Maya Studies Certificate from UCF in 2014. She is the Public Archaeology Coordinator for the Southwest Region of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, and conducts public archaeology and outreach in the region. She has participated in multiple field seasons in the Americas and had the opportunity to conduct lab work and teach during her time at UCF.

Memorializing the Sons of Israel in North Florida: A
Comparison of the St. Augustine and Gainesville Historic Jewish Cemeteries
David Markus and Simon Goldstone, University of Florida, Department of Anthropology

Abstract: The Sons of Israel Cemetery in St. Augustine and the Bene Israel Cemetery in Gainesville represent two of the oldest Jewish specific burial grounds in Florida and have been in use since the mid 19th Century. As both cemeteries have similar dates of origin and are of roughly equivalent size, comparing the cemetery layouts and the composition of their headstones provides a unique perspective on the Jewish communities on the Florida frontier. This paper will compare the material, iconographic, and linguistic choices made by the respective communities to better understand the development of the Jewish presence in North Florida.

David M. Markus, MA, RPA is an advanced doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He received his Master’s in Anthropology from the University of Arkansas in 2011. He has been conducting archaeological research in North America and the Caribbean for over 10 years. His dissertation research covers the Archaeology of Jewish Diaspora in the 19th Century American South.

Simon Goldstone, MA is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He received his Master’s in Anthropology from East Carolina University in 2016. His Master’s research focused on headstone iconography and cemetery patterning in North Carolina. His current research is on the Archaeology of Jewish Diaspora in Florida.

Estate Land for Sale, "Families Included"
Shelby Bender, Director, East Hillsborough Historical Society 

Abstract: Looking for a place to settle down and raise your family? Looking for a place to settle down that comes with its own family? Look NO more! What action can you take when you find out that a cemetery is headed to the auction block?  Are there steps you can take to assure a level of protection/recognition? Take action before the SOLD gavel comes down and the story of the disappearing grave begins to be penned!

Shelby Jean Roberson Bender is the Executive Director and President of the East Hillsborough Historical Society.  EHHS’s offices, Pioneer Museum and Quintilla Geer Bruton Archives Center are located in the historic 1914 Plant City High School Community Center. Bender, an eighth generation Floridian, shares her interest in history and preservation with her family, friends and community.  She holds both state and county Florida Pioneer Descendant certificates.  She serves as Chairman of the City of Plant City Historic Resources Board which oversees three local and national register historic districts and serves on the Hillsborough County Historic Advisory Council and the Hillsborough County Historic Preservation Challenge Grant Panel. She has co-authored four books on Plant City history and Tampa’s historic cemeteries, conducts workshops and seminars and is a member of the EHHS, Plant City Main Street Board of Directors, Florida State Genealogical Society (Secretary), Huxford Genealogical Society, Ybor City Museum Society, Association of Professional Genealogists and the Association of Gravestone Studies and other historical and genealogical societies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Leo University and a Non-Profit Management Certificate from the University of South Florida. She and her husband Andy have three adult sons and along with their families enjoy outdoor hobbies and family time.

The Differences in Cemetery Management: Public v. Private
Meagan Liebold, Outreach Assistant, FPAN Northeast; Student, Leicester University

Abstract: The management of cemeteries differ between the private vs. public ownership sectors. This discussion focuses discussing these categories, laws pertaining to each, and the differences in management plans that can be seen in each sector. 

Megan Liebold earned a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Central Florida and is currently enrolled in a Masters program at the University of Leicester. She served as Outreach Assistant for the Florida Public Archaeology Network's Northeast Region and continues to consult with the center on select projects. Her interests include historic cemeteries, underwater archaeology and osteoarchaeology.

Past Reality Meets Reality Television and Social Media: How Perceptions of a Slave Cemetery Help Frame Education, Outreach, and Scholarship
Helen Blouet, PhD. Associate Professor of Anthropology, Utica College

Abstract:  This paper describes reference to a slave cemetery on the reality television show, Southern Charm. In particular, I interpret ideas shared on social media in response to this scene, including empathy for as well as fear and avoidance of the cemetery and the interred. People also expressed discontent over how the burial site was portrayed and treated by cast members and producers. I argue that reflection on and engagement with public understandings of intersections between slavery, death, and burial can help improve teaching and learning of these subjects in schools, museums, and historical sites of interest.

Dr. Helen Blouet received her B.A. in anthropology from the College of William and Mary, and her M.A. and Ph.D from Syracuse University. Helen's dissertation research examined the ways in which people in 18th and 19th century Caribbean communities utilized burial practices and commemorated the dead. She is most interest in how, given identities and categories of race, class and religion, people created commemorative similarities and differences through their access to funerary resources. Dr. Blouet continues to research death, burial and commemoration in Caribbean history.

The Silent History of Forgotten Lives Buried in Paradise
Dr. Alisha R. Winn, Applied Cultural Anthropologist

Abstract:  On September 16, 1928, a major hurricane hit the east coast of Palm Beach County Florida, causing the flooding of Lake Okeechobee, and drowning 3000 people living the surrounding areas. Due to lack of burial space in greater impacted storm areas, many victims were buried in West Palm Beach, Florida. White victims were identified, and buried at Woodlawn cemetery, but 674 Black unidentified victims were laid in a mass gravesite in a historic African American neighborhood, remaining unmarked and un-kept until 2004. Although today, historical markers represent the victims in the space, this gravesite is a disturbing reminder of the silenced lives and importance of recognizing invisible history.

Dr. Alisha R. Winn is an applied cultural anthropologist whose community-engaged work focuses on race, identity, language, historic preservation, museums, and heritage education for youth. She earned her Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida. Currently, she is a consultant in preservation and community building efforts for West Palm Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in the Historic Northwest District, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray Beach, and the Storm of '28 Memorial Park Coalition, Inc., where she assists in education awareness and museum development for the mass gravesite of the 674 victims of the 1928 hurricane located in an African American community in West Palm Beach, FL. Dr. Winn also teaches anthropology to community and religious institutions; helping individuals outside of the classroom gain an appreciation for the discipline's usefulness and relevance.

KEYNOTE: Florida's Historic Cemeteries: Significance and Salvation
Margo Stringfield, Research Archaeologist, University of West Florida Archaeology Institute

Abstract: Margo will explore why cemeteries are important in telling the story of Florida (and beyond) and explore common threads that link our cemeteries, using sites from across the state. She will discuss how we can approach bringing the message of significance to the public that can in term encourage preserving these important efforts.

Margo Stringfield holds a M.A. degree in Historical Archaeology from the University of West Florida. Along with an ongoing interest in the history and archaeology of Colonial West Florida, Stringfield also works extensively in the field of historic cemetery preservation and conservation. Stringfield is the principal archaeologist for historic St. Michael's Cemetery - one of the oldest cemeteries in Florida. She also works with municipal and private cemetery groups in Florida and regionally to preserve the funerary landscapes of their communities. She is the facilitator for the Pensacola Area Cemetery Team (PACT). She is also co-author of the forthcoming Florida's Historic Cemeteries with Sharyn Thompson.

Comming Soon! Final program including panel bios and workshop abstracts will be published to this page May 30th.

Not yet registered? Registration is $60 to cover access to all presentations and training sessions, keynote and award reception at the Corazon Cinema and CafĂ©, and conference materials including t-shirt. Link to REGISTRATION

For more information contact Emily Jane Murrayemurray@flagler.edu

A Hidden Gem: Camp Chowenwaw Park

One of the Nine Tree House Cabins at Camp Chowenwaw Park

Camp Chowenwaw Park, is a Clay County gem that remains largely unknown.   When I was out there recently to do a program, I was surprised that people in close proximity to the camp had never heard of it (unless they were a former girl scout!)

Amphitheater at Camp Chowenwaw Park
The park is 150-acre site containing undisturbed wetland and upland environments and is home to a plethora of wildlife.  It is located at the mouth of Black Creek, just outside of Green Cove Springs, FL.
Girl Scouts ready to scout at Camp Chowenwaw (Clay County Archives)
It began back in the 1930's when a group of ambitious Duval County women set out to start a Girl Scout Camp. They named it Chowenwaw, the Creek word for "sister".  On July 1, 1933 the camp was dedicated and the first camper arrived.  For more details on these persistent women and their ambitious, depression-era project, check out the Clay County Historical Archives.
(Clay County Archives)

The Girl Scouts operated the camp here for more than 70 years.  In the Spring of 2006, the camp moved to a different location and The Girls Scouts sold it to Clay County where the camp was converted to a park.   The public can now enjoy hiking trails, picnicking, wildlife viewing,  tent camping or renting one of the camp's cabins (including their tree house cabins!).  In addition to all of the activities listed above, if you're there on the third Saturday of the month you'll get to see The Historic Girl Scout Museum, open from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Camp Chownenwaw is located on 1.5 miles of shoreline on Black Creek and Peters Creek off of the St. John's River making it a perfect place for kayak or canoe exploration.   The park has a public canoe launch area (just be prepared to carry your boat for a couple minutes in order to reach the launch site).

Canoe / kayak launch into Black Creek at Camp Chowenwaw Park
You won't be the first person to kayak these waters or hike these trails; People have been enjoying this prime location way before it was every a Girls Scout Camp. This site has been inhabited by people for at  least a couple of thousands years.  According the Florida Master Site File, Archaeologists have recorded evidence of human habitation along this creek dating back to 700 B.C. through 1500 A.D.

Text and Images (except where noted) by FPAN Staff: Robbie Boggs

5 Things to Know About Archaeology in South Florida

Recently, I took a trip to FPAN's Southeast Region to help document and create outreach materials on some of south Florida's least accessible - but most amazing - archaeological sites. I have never spent much time in the area, let alone studying the archaeology, and was totally blown away! Here's five of my biggest takeaways from the trip.

1. South Florida has so much amazing archaeology! (And so many amazing archaeologists!)

Crew of archaeologists checking out the map of Big Mound City.
Even as an archaeologist, I had no idea the number of amazing sites in South Florida. Furthermore, I had no idea how many were still around. I have an image of South Florida in my mind that consists of a lot of pavement, subdivisions and high rises. But not so! Even amongst the development, there's still a lot to learn. I also had the pleasure of touring around with archaeologists from Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, Miami University and Florida Atlantic University, not to mention my FPAN colleagues from the Southeast. I learned a lot from about sites throughout the area from everyone.

2. Miami has caves that have been utilized by people for thousands of years.

In a limestone solution hole - they can get quite big.
Well, maybe not quite caves. But underneath eastern Miami-Dade and Broward counties is a limestone bedrock that is unlike any other. Solution holes form in this bedrock from decaying plant matter and rain, and archaeologists have found a wide array of megafauna dating back to the Pleistocene in many of them due largely to the unique preservation. Much like shell middens, the calcium in the limestone helps preserve organic materials like bone. Archaeologists have also found that early humans would use these places. One of the sites I visited, the Cutler Fossil Site (click here for a blog for more info), contained evidence of humans going back 9700 years! And for all of the geology nerds out there, check out Florida Atlantic University's website on Miami limestone.

3. Palm Beach County has some of the largest and most unique earthworks in the United States.

Map of Big Mound City, courtesy of the Florida Anthropological Society
Out in the swamps of Palm Beach County, on the northern outskirts of the Everglades, people were moving some earth. A lot of it. And in very creative ways. One of the sites we visited, Big Mound City, covers 143 acres and consists of at least 23 mounds and lots of linear features and causeways. Not a lot of archaeology has been done at the site, but the main mound was excavated in the 1930s and contained practically no artifacts. This suggests the sites could have been built just for the architecture of them -- and impressive architecture it is. (More on Palm Beach County here.)

4. Archaeology happens by planes, trains and automobiles!

Our ride through the swamp!
Or rather, helicopters, air boats and swamp buggies. While the coast of South Florida is heavily developed and has great roadways, the interior of the state is still a lot of undeveloped land and can get very wet. In order to access some of these far off sites, archaeologists have to use some pretty serious transportation. At a recent lecture by Chris Davenport, archaeologist for Palm Beach County, he showed a slide of him using all of these modes of transport to sites. Unfortunately, I was only there for a few days to see a few sites, but I did get to ride on my first swamp buggy! Maybe next time, it'll be a chopper!

5. If people care enough, they can save sites from development, even in Miami.

Miami Circle Park in downtown Miami.
The Miami Circle is one of the greatest examples of site preservation. Archaeologists, community members, indigenous people and others rallied to save a small patch of of very expensive land in downtown Miami from becoming just another high rise apartment building. I've heard about the site for years but finally got to see it. While it doesn't seem like much, the meaning behind it is a lot. If they can do it in Miami, we can do it anywhere! You can take a virtual tour of the site on the Florida Department of State Division of Historic Resource's website on the site.

Signage at the site recognizes the hard work that went into the site's preservation.
Bonus life lesson - When South Florida tries to kill your equipment by overheating it, just put it on ice!
Batteries so hot the camera keeps turning off? Just put in a dry bag and drop into an icey cooler!
Words and photos by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Staff, unless otherwise noted.

86th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology

     This past week I traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to showcase research at the 86th Annual American Association of Physical Anthropology Conference. This conference focuses on sharing research by students and professionals concerning a range of topics in physical anthropology including, but not limited to, bioarchaeology (study of bones and biological material from the archaeological record), dental anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, and primatology. Physical anthropologists from all over the world come together to share their work with others in the field.
      I was joined by coworkers and mentors from the 2016 National Science Foundation (NSF) Research for Undergraduate Excellence (REU) Program: Immersive Research in the Bioarchaeology of Greek Colonization, Sicily, Italy. If there was one place for a team of bioarchaeologists to have a reunion, the AAPAs in New Orleans was it! This conference wrapped up research with this NSF - REU team until the new research team travels for another field season this Summer (2017). 

Me presenting during the AAPAs

Abdul Zahid (colleague) and Tessa Smith (colleague) presenting 

 Janelle Tyler (colleague) answering questions at her poster
      Many book companies sell the newest editions of textbooks. Other newly published works pertaining to physical anthropology were available to purchase. While book shopping I found the following books representing bioarchaeology in Florida! The first book is about the Windover Archaeological site in Titusville, Florida. The second is about the Old Vero Archaeological Dig Site in Vero Beach, Florida.

"Windover: Multidisciplinary Investigations of an Early Archaic Florida Cemetery" by Glen H. Doran
"An Ice Age Mystery: Unearthing the Secrets of the Old Vero Site" by Rody Johnson

       Participants listened to podium presentations and poster presentations throughout the conference. Podium presentations lasted approximately 20 minutes with presenters discussing their latest field/lab research.

     After the conference, many attendees, my colleagues and myself included, participated in the worldwide March for Science. At our location we marched from the Marriott where the AAPA conference was being held to the City Hall of New Orleans. Hundreds of people marched to support the continuation of scientific exploration in all scientific fields. Being a part of this march was an experience I will not forget. It was only one component of the ongoing support for the scientific community to keep growing and disseminating knowledge between scientific disciplines and to the public alike.
"Science Has No Agenda" Poster

"Science Matters No Bones About It" Poster

Fellow March for Science supporters and I

Some of my colleagues and others marching

The March for Science crowd grew quickly

     To wrap up, I would just like to say it was a true honor to work with my mentors Dr. Britney Kyle and Dr. Laurie Reitsema of the NSF - REU Summer bioarchaeology research team, as well as the graduate students Katherine Reinberger and April Dobbs. A continuous thank you goes to them for their hard work in making the research project possible and taking my colleagues and I under their wing to teach and learn with. Another thank you goes to all of the Italian collaborators that welcomed us onto their site with open arms to share their passion of learning from the dead. 

Text and pictures: Caitlin Sawyer

San Sebastian Cemetery Recording Project Completed


 The San Sebastian Cemetery Recording Project is now complete! We began this project in October 2015 and had our final field day last month (February 2017). Breaks were taken for summer and for weather (a large break was taken last Fall - thanks Hurricane Matthew!) But, with the help of volunteers, a snap shot of this precarious and amazing sacred space has been recorded.

I'm sure your mind is now swirling with questions! I shall attempt to answer a few of them....

What work was done during the project?
  • 431 - Individual Markers were transcribed, measured, assessed and photographed
  • 104 - 10 x 10 Meter Blocks measured and mapped
  • 31 - Field days worked
  • 23 - Volunteers worked in cemetery at some point
San Sebastian Cemetery recording volunteers
What is San Sebastian?
San Sebastian is a cemetery established around 1884 for exclusive use by St. Augustine's African-American Protestant community. It's located a mile outside of St. Augustine's historic district, following the national trend of replacing crowded churchyards with spacious rural cemeteries.

What's important about this cemetery?
San Sebastian contains the graves of many prominent African-American citizens and is home to veterans from the Civil War to the Korean War. At least three Union soldiers are buried here who served in the U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War.

One of three Union Army Soldiers buried in San Sebastian Cemetery
There are those buried here who were clearly loved by the community for their contributions:

Mary E. Jordan marker: "Erected by the pupils of New Augustine Colored School"

And, of course, San Sebastian is also home to hundreds more who were not prominent, but still were a beloved friend or family member. You can walk through the cemetery today and see the efforts made to remember them and wonder about their stories:

 Then there are the remnants of other markers that are losing their race with time:

 Several people buried in San Sebastian were born in the 1840's, born a slave and died free:
Samuel M Sevillie, 1842 - 1917
San Sebastian Cemetery contains about every marker material you can imagine: marble, granite, poured concrete, tiles, coquina, bricks, wood, plants, whelk and conch shells (a tradition traced back to Africa). Wood markers don't last long in Florida, but a small wooden cross is still holding tight in San Sebastian.
Last existing wooden marker in San Sebastian Cemetery
Why did FPAN do the recording project now?

There was a time when San Sebastian was so overgrown you couldn't even set foot in it!  There were several caring volunteer groups over the year that cleaned it up, but of course Florida vegetation will not be kept at bay without constant vigilance. Most recently, in 2013,  the National Guard and Operation Restore Respect (headed by Mark and Teresa Frank) started the enormous project of cleaning out the cemetery. So one reason we recorded now is because we could!

In addition to physical access, St. John's County took possession of San Sebastian for a couple of years and then transferred the deed to the West Augustine Improvement Association in 2014. In order to assist West Augustine Improvement Association in developing a long-term management,  we provided a base-line picture of the cemetery as it now stands.

Why does San Sebastian look so different from it's next door neighbor?

Although only separated by a fence, San Sebastian is a world away from it's neighbor, Evergreen Cemetery. Evergreen, a privately owned commercial cemetery, is meticulously maintained and registered in the National Registry of Historic Places. Established in 1886, Evergreen became the region's largest white Protestant cemetery during the turn of the century. 
Entrance to Evergreen Cemetery
Although established around the same time, San Sebastian is not on the National Registry. Its ownership was in question for a couple of decades, leaving it effectively abandoned and the victim to overgrowth, neglect and vandalism. The reason for the vast difference between these neighboring cemeteries lies deep in the issues of  institutionalized racism and socioeconomics.
Entrance to San Sebastian Cemetery
Before I conclude, I want to thank everyone who volunteered on this project. But I must give a special shout out to one volunteer extraordinary - Beth Hamel who was there almost every field day from the beginning to the end!
Volunteer Extraordinaire

For other articles on San Sebastian Cemetery check out:

Unsung Heroes - St. Augustine Record, Clean Up - St. Augustine Record
Flagler College Gargoyle
FPAN Blog - May 2013
FPAN Blog - June 2014
FPAN Blog - Jan 2016

Text and Images by FPAN Staff; Robbie Boggs 

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