Evergreen Cemetery

Evergreen Cemetery

Entrance to Evergreen Cemetery

After the City of St. Augustine closed the Protestant (Huguenot) Cemetery, a new location west of the city was selected as its replacement. Evergreen Cemetery opened in 1886 and soon became the largest Protestant cemetery in northeast Florida. The plan for Evergreen was influenced by the Rural Cemetery Movement of the 19th century. The National Register Bulletin describes this style:

In the early “rural” cemeteries and in those which followed their pattern, hilly, wooded sites were enhanced by grading, selective thinning of trees, and massing of plant materials which directed views opening onto broad vistas. The cemetery gateway established separation from the workaday world, and a winding drive of gradual ascent slowed progress to a stately pace. Such settings stirred an appreciation of nature and a sense of the continuity of life.

The older sections of the cemetery are shaded with old palms and live oak trees. Spanish moss sways in the breeze and many azalea and camilla bushes provide color in the spring. A meandering pond splits the cemetery in half and adds to the tranquility. The newer sections are a stark contrast – flat with almost no shade.

Among the cemetery’s notable residents is Randolph Caldecott, the 19th century British artist noted for his beautifully illustrated childrens’ books. Mr. Caldecott died suddenly on February 12, 1886 while visiting St. Augustine and was one of the first burials at Evergreen.

The cemetery office is located just inside the gate and the staff was very helpful, providing maps and information on the cemetery’s history and features. This map provides an aerial view of the cemetery as it looks today. A cemetery survey is available at the St. Augustine Genealogical Society site.

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References:

Henry Morrison Flagler

Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church

Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church

The beautiful Memorial Presbyterian Church was built by Henry Morrison Flagler as a memorial to his daughter Jenny Louise Flagler Benedict who died from complications related to childbirth.

Portrait of Henry M. Flagler hangs in Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Portrait of Henry M. Flagler hangs in Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Flagler (January 2, 1830 – May 20, 1913), a founding partner in the Standard Oil Company, also built the Florida East Coast railroad which opened up the east coast of Florida down to the Keys.  In St. Augustine, he created a winter resort with three elegant hotels.

When his daughter died soon after the birth – and death – of her child, he chose to build a church as a permanent memorial to her.  The Presbyterian congregation that benefited from his largess is the oldest Presbyterian congregation in Florida and at the time of the church’s dedication numbered only 40 members.

In addition to Jenny Louise and her daughter, Marjorie, Mr. Flagler and his first wife, Mary, are also buried in the family mausoleum at the church.

 

A view into the mausoleum. The mirror shows the ornametal detail of the mausoleums dome.

A view into the mausoleum. The mirror shows the ornametal detail of the mausoleum’s dome.

The mausoleum is the domed structure in the foreground.

The mausoleum is the domed structure in the foreground.

Sources:

Hiding the Dead

The earliest date on a gravestone in St. Augustine belongs to Elizabeth Forrester. Elizabeth was born in 1732 and died on December 20, 1798. She is buried in Tolomato Cemetery.

In 1798, St. Augustine was more than 230 years old. We already know there are a large number of dead heretics buried in the dunes at Matanzas Inlet, but what about the deceased residents of this settlement over the years?

It’s quite likely that the Tolomato Cemetery site contains graves from the first Spanish period (ending 1763) when the location was an Indian mission. Several other sites have been identified as burial locations including the current headquarters of the Florida National Guard at St. Francis Barracks. Prior to the arrival of the British in 1763, this location was a Franciscan monastery/convent and mission. Recent excavations on the property have found remains of a non-European individual. Other cemetery locations include Nuestra Senora de la Soledad located on what is now part of the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Parish of St. Augustine cemetery located off Aviles Street.

How did these cemeteries become “lost”? The settlement endured several large fires in its early history. First Drake then Moore burned the town during their attacks and Oglethorpe later bombarded the town for six months. Another factor could be the lack of stone available to mark the graves. The only stone found in this area is a shell-rock called coquina which really isn’t suitable for gravestones. Even if fires didn’t get them, graves marked with wooden markers would soon be lost to the climate and termites. Even 19th century graves in the Huguenot Cemetery can no longer be identified because their wooden markers have rotted away.

Huguenot Cemetery 1904

Huguenot Cemetery about 1904. Courtesy Florida Memory.

Although the graves may be lost, their souls are not. The St. Augustine Historical Society has translations of early church records going back to 1594, along with many other historical documents covering the many periods of St. Augustine’s history.

Sources:

  • Buker, George E., and Jean Parker Waterbury. The Oldest City: St. Augustine, Saga of Survival. St. Augustine, Fla: St. Augustine Historical Society, 1983.
  • Thompson, Sharon and Marsha Chance, A Survey of Forty-Six Historical Cemeteries in St. Johns County, Florida. Jacksonville, FL: Environmental Services, Inc., 2004.
  • Wittemann, A. St. Augustine. Thomas and Georgine Mickler collection. Brooklyn, N.Y.: A. Wittemann, 1904. <http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/tc/fhp/CF00001677.pdf>. (photo of Huguenot Cemetery)

William Wing Loring

Loring Monument

Loring Monument from the author’s collection

This imposing monument presides over the plaza to the west of Government House and overlooks the busiest intersection in downtown St. Augustine.  In actuality, it’s more than just a monument.  It’s also the grave of William Wing Loring, a man who served in three armies including as Pasha in the army of Egypt.

William Wing Loring

William Wing Loring from Florida Photographic Collection

Born December 4, 1818 in Wilmington, North Carolina, William moved to St. Augustine with his parents in 1823 – just two years after Florida had become a United States territory.  At the age of 14 he enlisted in the Florida Militia and fought in the early skirmishes of the Second Seminole War.  He was promoted to lieutenant before he left the militia to finish his schooling in Virginia.

After school, he passed the bar exam and spent some time as an attorney and even served in the state legislature from 1843 to 1845.  He joined the Army and served in the Mexican War where he lost his arm during battle in Mexico City.  In 1849 he took command of the Oregon Territory as part of the Mounted Rifles and served in the west until 1859.  When the Civil War erupted, he resigned to join the Southern cause serving at Vicksburg, in Tennessee, North Georgia and in the campaign against Nashville.  In 1865 he surrendered to General Sherman in North Carolina shortly after Appomatox.

A group of Confederate and Union veterans later served in the Egyptian army after being recommended to the Khedive of Egypt by none other than William Tecumseh Sherman. Loring served for nine years, attaining the rank of Fereek Pasha (Major General).  On his return to the states, he wrote a book about his experiences titled A Confederate Soldier in Egypt (1884).  He co-authored another book, The March of the Mounted Riflemen, which was published after his death.

Upon his return from Egypt, Loring spent his time working on his book and traveling between his Florida home, New York and the western states.  From a profile in the New York Times dated October 17, 1886:

One evening I heard a fine looking old gentleman extolling the United States Government, and saying many kindly things of Lincoln and of Grant. I also noticed that he carried upon his right side an empty sleeve, which he at last alluded to indirectly by saying: “I lost one arm in the service of my country at the storming of the citadel of the city of Mexico, but I have another left which is always ready and loyal to do her bidding.” I then asked who the gentleman was, and I was informed that it was “old Billy himself”….There is no man more warmly embosomed in the hearts of Floridians than Gen. Loring.

General Loring died in New York on December 30, 1886 from pneumonia.  Robert Hawke tells the rest of the story in Florida’s Army:

Loring’s reinterment and public funeral in St. Augustine during March of 1887 was one of the grandest events in the city’s history for that decade. It was used as an occasion for a combined encampment, and week-long meeting, of the Union and Confederate veterans organizations of northeast Florida. Both groups, in conjunction with other local civic organizations, sponsored the erection of a memorial obelisk and monument, in Government House Square, inscribed with the details of Loring’s life and military service, and emblazoned with the flags of the United States, the Confederated States, and the Ottoman province of Egypt. It is a fine memorial to the local militiaman who became a pasha of Egypt.

South side of Loring Monument

South side of Loring Monument from the author’s collection.

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