Friday, October 31, 2008

A bird's eye view for ye rabbits

Yours truly created a Google Map of all the hopping grounds already mentioned in this blog, and will commit to updating it on a weekly basis.

Happy Hallowe'en, everyone!

View Larger Map

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Confederate veteran identified

Today, we once again journey west of Orlando.

This time our hopping ground is the old Beulah Cemetery in Winter Garden. I say "old," because it is has the distinction of being continuously used as a graveyard longer than any other in Central Florida.

To get there, take State Road 50 to the big sign for West Orange High School, then head south on Beulah Road until it dead ends. The cemetery access road will be on your left. You may find the gate closed, as I did when I visited. In which case, you can still enter the grounds through the gap in the fence near the big oak tree pictured here.

Once inside you will see recent graves interspersed with much older ones.

The oldest one I could find on casual inspection belonged to one Andrew Jackson Dunaway (1818-1866). It caught my attention because of its poetic inscription beneath his vital dates:

Kind Father of Love
Thou art gone to thy rest
Forever to dwell
Mid the Joys of the blessed

Another thing that intrigued me was the possibility that Mr. Dunaway was a Civil War veteran, his death occurring just one year after the fighting ended. His stone certainly makes no mention of any such service, so I did a little digging.

No, not in the cemetery itself, but in the library.

In case you rabbits haven't discovered this awesome website yet, let me introduce you to the National Park Service's Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System:

There, I did a search for Mr. Dunaway, and found a listing that seemed to match for a soldier that served in Company C of the 2nd Florida Cavalry.

I then cross-checked this information with another great source: Fred L. Robertson's "Soldiers of Florida," compiled in Tallahasseee back in 1904.

It confirmed that our Mr. Dunaway at Beulah was indeed a Confederate soldier!

But, it also said that he was discharged from Confederate service DUE TO OLD AGE on 12 December 1862.

According to the birthdate on his stone, he was ONLY 44 YEARS OLD when he was deemed too old to serve?!?

Hmmmm . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Mizell Family - part 2 of 2

Today we hop from the burial place of the patriarch of the Mizell clan in Conway up to the beautiful grounds of the city-owned Leu Botanical Gardens at 1730 North Forest Avenue in Orlando.

A lot of rabbits may not be aware that, in addition to the awesome collection of horticultural treasures and the historic Leu House, the site is also home to one of the most breathtaking and well-maintained cemeteries in this little corner of heaven. No doubt, the Mizell Cemetery helped gain the gardens entry to the National Register of Historic Properties back in 1994.

Befitting their stature in the community, a bronze marker informs garden visitors of the Mizells contributions and gives a brief genealogical account of the immediate family of Sheriff David William Mizell (1833-1870).

As mentioned in previous postings here, the Mizells became embroiled in a bloody feud with the cattle ranching Barber family. This culminated in the killing of the Sheriff in an ambush near Holopaw.

Here's the poor fellow's stone, "erected by Lula," his daughter, many years after the feud came to an end.

Note the Masonic symbol.

According to local history books, the sheriff's burial here was done under the light of a full moon--the first to be conducted as such a manner in this neck of the woods.

Tip to rabbits wishing to visit: The garden staff can sometimes be persuaded to allow access to the cemetery without paying admission to the general grounds--especially if, like yours truly, you can claim kinship to the Mizells. But, it's still worth buying a ticket to see the rest of the sights if they can't be persuaded in your particular case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Mizell Family - part 1 of 2

You rabbits who are familiar with Orlando's history have no doubt heard the name Mizell. And, even if you're not, the name still graces a fairly-well traveled road up in adjacent Winter Park.

The name originally belonged to the family that held all the reins of power in this neck of the world during the turbulent years of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War.

In this first of two posts, I want to introduce you to the fellow who established the family here in the long, long ago: David Mizell (1808-1884). When the war was over, he was elected by his friends and family to make the arduous trip up to Tallahassee to craft a new state constitution that the occupation forces would find acceptable.

This accomplished, he returned to become the first chairman of the Orange County Commission. Furthermore, two of his sons were elected Sheriff of Orange County and one as the county judge.

Basically, in the 1870s you couldn't sneeze around here unless the Mizells said "bless you" in advance. All of this, of course, led to a lot of resentment and eventually culminated in a bloody feud with the Barber cattle ranching family. But, more on that tomorrow.

Today, I wanted to show you where the founder of the family was buried at the Conway Cemetery, south of Lake Margaret at 3401 South Conway Road in Orlando.

One might think the grave of a patriarch of such a large and powerful clan would be surrounded by those of his progeny.

But, this is not the case with the Mizells.

As you will learn tomorrow, the more "interesting" members of the family are buried at another location across town.

Stay tuned . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

A World Series connection

Well, fellow rabbits, it looks like the Tampa Bay Rays' dreams of winning the World Series are on hold tonight due to bad weather.

Their trials and tribulations up in Philadelphia this month brought to mind those of a fellow who found himself in a similar situation nearly 80 years ago.

To introduce you to his story, let's take a virtual journey a couple miles west of Orlando on the dandy toll road otherwise known as the 408 to the town of Gotha.

If you want to make a real world journey, make sure you take the Good Homes Road exit southbound til it dead ends. Then turn right, and make a quick left onto Woodlawn Cemetery Road.

This fashionable burial ground was established back in 1926, and is very well-maintained. There are quite a few notable permanent residents here, but we'll save their introductions for another day. Today belongs to a fellow by the name of James Wren "Zack" Taylor (1898-1974).

You wouldn't know it from his humble gravemarker, but Mr. Taylor was quite a successful Major League Baseball player.

In 1929, in fact, he was a catcher with the Chicago Cubs team that won the National League pennant.

Unfortunately, he and his teammates went down to defeat at the hands of the old Philadelphia Athletics. And, he didn't have a very successful time on the diamond after that. He ended up his professional career coaching, then evidently retired down here in Florida.

I wonder which team old Zack is rooting for . . .

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Haunted only by mold

Today, we visit a tidy little burial ground tucked into the woods just a few blocks north of the bustling intersection of University Boulevard on Rouse Road.

As the entrance marker says, the Drawdy and Rouse families established the cemetery back in 1871.

There is, however, a local legend that the cemetery is haunted by a not-so-charming fellow named Benjamin Miles, who was buried here in an umarked grave back in the 1840s.

Now, I'm not saying there is no basis for the legend, only that I haven't seen any documentary evidence of anyone by that name in the early records.

What I can tell you rabbits, however, is the older stones in this cemetery are plagued by mold.

This renders them not only unsightly, but also illegible--the latter condition being quite bothersome to those of us of a genealogical bent.

So, I am soliciting advice.

Is the solution (pun intended) a 50/50 blend of water and bleach?

I know you have to be careful with newer granite or bronze memorials. But what about older ones like the one pictured here?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Potentially-infamous Jane Green and her mysterious gravestone

If ye rabbits hop south along Boggy Creek Road behind the Orlando International Airport, you will find a quiet little cemetery established in the long ago by the Locke family just past Wetherbee Road.

I discovered the place myself several years ago while attempting to locate the final resting place of my ancestor William H. Macy who lived in this neck of the woods.

I had no luck in that endeavor, but did stumble--quite literally--upon the gravestone of one Jane Green:

A rather plain name, to be sure. An even plainer stone. So you may be asking why it caught my attention beyond the fact that it had already caught the toe of my boot.

Well, at the time, I had just finished reading Mary Ida Shearhart's gripping account of the local feud between the Barber and Mizell families. ("The Way Hit Wuz," ISBN 1-866104-15-8.) Unlike many earlier writers of local history, she didn't sugar-coat things in her work. People were people even back in the 1800s, and she made it clear that some of our Central Florida pioneers did things their descendants might not necessarily consider a source of pride. One of the more notorious individuals mentioned was one Jane Green.

It seems Jane was a widow who engaged in some unsavory business practices to pay the bills. Back in the summer of 1868, she was caught luring two cowboys named Moses Barber and Ed Summerlin into the woods near Holopaw to engage in said business. For reasons I have yet to discover, Jane wasn't prosecuted for this incident. But, both Barber and Summerlin were found guilty of adultery and fined $6,000. (Sin was expensive in those days, no?!)

The genealogist in me had to follow-up on the tidbit from Shearhart, especially after stumbling across Jane's very own grave. And, once again, I uncovered a discrepancy between what was carved into stone and the surviving US census records for Orange County:
  • 1880 found Jane, age 45, a widow with three daughters aged 16, 18, and 20. [Page 457a.]
  • 1900 found her, age 66, living with her daughter and son-in-law Emma and Simeon Tiner. [Page 126b.]
  • 1910 indices didn't include her, though I didn't try to look up the Tiners.
  • 1920 found her again, this time age 95!! She was still living with her daughter and son-in-law, though their names were given as S. & Emily Tyner. [Page 197a.]

Did you spot the discrepancy?

It's not just the obvious fudging of the year of birth. 1819 on the stone. Ca 1835 according to the 1880 record. April 1834 according to the 1900 record. And, ca 1825 according to the 1920 record.

The bigger question is this: How could she be listed in the 1920 census if her gravestone says she died in 1918?!


Friday, October 24, 2008

More than just a graveyard

Something tells me the founder of Glen Haven Memorial Park and Mausoleum up in Winter Park would resent us rabbits referring to the place as a graveyard.

You see, Major Carl W. Hopps of the Army Corps of Engineers designed the place back in 1949 to be more than that.

He succeeded.

Glen Haven is perhaps one of the most serene and contemplative spots in this little corner of heaven.
Even the drive up to its front gate at 2300 Temple Drive has a calming effect on visitors.

If you follow the drive all the way to the back of the property, you will find the old office building and the original mausoleum where Major Hopps was laid to rest just a few days shy of his 92nd birthday in 1981. (Many more have been erected over the decades since the place opened.)

In the office, yours truly found an exceptionally friendly staff on hand, more than happy to answer questions and search thru their archives.

According to the records, the only "famous" burial on site--unless you count Major Hopps--is John M. Fox (1912-2003).

Don't recognize the name?

Well, don't feel too bad. Mr. Fox's "fame" wasn't attached to his name, rather to what he did. He was the founder of The Minute Maid Corporation, and the fellow responsible for popularizing the Chiquita Banana!

Most of the other memorials at Glen Haven, though, belong to less illustrious folk, including a few from my own family:
  • William Swinney Morgan, Jr. (1900-1960), my great-grandfather.
  • Erma Barco Morgan (1904-1995), his second wife.
  • Edith Morgan Sims (1924-1999), my great-aunt.
  • Richard Barco Morgan, Jr. (1955-1955), my dad's cousin who died in infancy.
  • Myrtle Macy Burns (1901-1986), my great-aunt.
  • Joseph Eugene Burns, Sr. (1901-1984), her husband.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who survived who?!

Today's graveyard excursion takes us to Oak Ridge Cemetery at 1881 Sand Lake Road in South Orlando.

Ye local rabbits have no doubt hopped right past it on your way to or from The Florida Mall.

Today, yours truly will highlight two grave markers at this location that have been a mystery to my own genealogical pursuits.

The first belongs to my great-great-great grandfather William Wright "Dink" Patrick, who returned from serving in the Confederate Army to become Sheriff of Orange County. You'd think a fellow like that would be pretty easy to document. But, note the date of death recorded on this stone: Sept 14, 1915.

Now, look at the adjacent stone of his wife Sarah Matilda (nee Ivey) Patrick. It gives her date of death as Aug. 8, 1915.

The odd thing is that I was unable to locate Dink's obituary in surviving newspaper records.

Sarah's obituary, however, made the front page on the morning after she passed away. It indicates she was a widow, and certainly does not include her husband in the rather lengthy list of survivors.
Add to this an old family photo (not in my possession, otherwise I'd scan it and post it here) that shows Sarah surrounded by a throng of extended family. They are all dressed in dark colors, seemingly in mourning. And, situated prominently in the foreground is a man's black hat. Could this photo have been taken at Dink's funeral? Could that hat have belonged to him?

These markers at Oak Ridge serve as a good follow-up to yesterday's post. Just because something is carved in stone (dates in this case), discerning graveyard rabbits should know better than to take it for granted . . . or granite, for that matter!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Written in stone?

Well, rabbits, today's post takes us to a little cemetery south of downtown Orlando.

In fact, it's so little most folks wouldn't even notice it if it weren't for this new green sign the county erected recently.

The Powell Cemetery was established as a family burying ground back in the 1800s.

Yours truly has two family members buried here. The first was my great-aunt Mattie Patrick McCraney (sister of my great-great grandmother Alice Patrick Macy). The second was her young niece, whose grave marker will serve as today's reminder:

Just because it's written in stone doesn't mean you can take it for gospel!

Sometimes there is an incorrect date or year. In this case, however, it is a misspelled name.

The stone clearly gives this poor young victim of the Influenza Epidemic as Eula Mae JONES.

But, her surname was actually JOHNS.

Her parents were Charles and Maggie (Patrick) JOHNS.

Makes you wonder why nobody caught that back in 1918, doesn't it? Maybe, they got a discount from the stonecutter . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Memorial vs tombstone

This dapper fellow is Aaron Jernigan (1813-1891), the first permanent American settler in what is now Orlando.

Disclaimer: He is also my great-great-uncle.

He is mentioned here today to remind all ye rabbits out there of the difference between memorial stones and tombstones.

You see, old Uncle Aaron is buried out at Lake Hill Cemetery in the Orlovista neighborhood just southwest of the city limits.

Sadly, Lake Hill is not as well maintained as other area cemeteries, especially when you consider it is the final resting place of so many of our pioneers. The low cinder block wall barely shields it from the hustle and bustle of adjacent Old Winter Garden Road. Yours truly has encountered vagrants on the premises on more than one occasion. Empty beer bottles and cans dot the grave sites, some of them holding wilted flowers.

Anyway, near the center of the cemetery grounds is a utility building. And, just in front of that building is this fairly recent memorial:

But, do not be confused!

This does not mark Aaron Jernigan's final resting place!

To find that, you have to turn to the right.

Just before the fence that separates Lake Hill from the Jewish interments at neighboring Ohev Shalom Cemetery, you will find the plot containing the much more humble tombstones of Aaron, his wife Mary, and many members of the extended family.

See, I told you there was a difference between memorial stones and tombstones!

(Lake Hill and Ohev Shalom are located at 5950-6000 Old Winter Garden Road, just east of Kirkman Road, west of Orlando.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Plan now to join moonlight history stroll

Mark your calendars!

11/14/08 - 9pm to 11pm

Once again, local historian and hiking guide/enthusiast Steve Rajtar will be hosting a moonlight history stroll thru Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Orlando.

The group will be limited to 50, so call the cemetery office at 407-246-2616 to claim one of the spots.

There is no cost to join the stroll, although donations will be accepted for the cemetery's tree replenishment fund. (Several old trees were lost in recent hurricanes.)

The stroll will begin at the cemetery entrance at 1603 Greenwood Street.