Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who was Wyman R. Brown?

Today's history mystery has us rabbits hopping out to Ocoee, a small town west of Orlando on SR 50.

Ye local rabbits have no doubt sped along this stretch of highway several times, not realizing there was a graveyard ripe for hopping just north of Lake Blanchard.

The cemetery entrance is actually where Story Road dead ends.

Anyway, the oldest markers in this old graveyard are clustered in the back of the property.

Among them, I found this hard-to-read stone bearing the inscription:

Sept 26, 1820
Jan 12, 1882

Unforutnately, I haven't been able to find out anything further on our mystery man. There was a W.R. Brown included in the 1880 census of Orange County, but he was too young to be this fellow. So, who was Wyman R. Brown?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Osceola County considering a new cemetery

This just received from a fellow rabbit who lives near the site.

Osceola County is in the process of permitting a new cemetery, per Conditional Use Application #08-00042 submitted by Hickory Tree, LLC.

If approved, the new graveyard will encompass about 36 acres of prime hopping grounds north of Mable Simmons Road, between Hickory Tree Road and Westshore Drive.

The Planning Commission will consider the application on January 22nd, and the Board of County Commissioners will do the same on February 23rd.

So, stay tuned. Our territory may be expanding!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Urban sprawl has a long history in Orlando

Even back in 1884, local residents felt the encroachment of development.

That's the year my Patrick and Ivey ancestors formed the Lake Hill Cemetery Association, and removed the bodies of loved ones buried in their old family plot to escape all the rampant land speculation that was going on in this little corner of heaven in anticipation of the arrival of the railroad.

The former burial ground was known locally as the Patrick Cemetery, and was located between Lake Lorna Doone and Rock Lake north of the modern Citrus Bowl.

If ye rabbits feel like hopping over the former site of this long-disappeared graveyard, take the Orange Blossom Trail to Washington Street, then head west between the shores of the two lakes.

You may not see any surviving grave markers, but if you time it just right you may be able to enjoy a sunset like this one over Lorna Doone.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Before there was a Mount Peace?

Today, I want to take ye rabbits south of the Orlando International Airport, across the Osceola County line into the bustling little town of St. Cloud.

The oldest cemetery here is Mount Peace. It has a nice iron gate, stone columns, and a sexton's office on site.

According to the sexton's records, the cemetery was founded back in 1910. But, that date seems a little suspect to yours truly.

For instance, I found this gravemarker for William Jackson Brack (17 January 1837 - 30 April 1901), who served as the first Mayor of Orlando, 1875-7.

How could it be that he died 9 years before the cemetery was founded?

Were his remains brought here after the fact and reinterred?

Or, was this originally a family cemetery that was later deeded to the city?

I'd love to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Any ideas?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Meet my Uncle George

Today, I'd like to introduce ye rabbits to my great-uncle George Everett Macy (1850-1928).

His grave marker may be found near the back of Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Orlando, in Section A to be more precise.

If you squint at this image, you can barely make out some words beneath his name and vital dates: "Absent from the Body, present with the Lord."

Uncle George came down to this little corner of heaven with his dad, my great-great-great grandfather William H. Macy during the years immediately after the Civil War.

Settling in Orlando in 1875, George established a blacksmith shop at what is now the intersection of South Street and Hughey Avenue.

His two-story home stood nearby at 208 West South Street, but had to be moved over to the grounds of the old Boone homestead on Irvine Street when I-4 was rammed through our old downtown area.

Anyway, Uncle George's blacksmith shop grew from producing horseshoes and branding irons to become a wagon factory--the biggest in the state, as a matter of fact. It covered 12,640 square feet of workspace and produced 16 varieties of wagons, carriages, buggies, and surreys.

I'll bet it was a Macy Wagon that the old funeral homes used to carry caskets and mourners out here to Greenwood Cemetery back in the long ago, maybe even for Uncle George funeral!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm baaaaaaaack!

Well, rabbits, after an extended absence due to holiday-making, trip-taking, computer updating, and illness-recuperating, yours truly is FINALLY back online!

My new year's resolution is to get back into the swing of making daily posts here.

So, watch this space!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pilgrim's of the Night

After yesterday's post, yours truly determined to find out more about the hymn sung during Mrs. Welborne's funeral at Winter Park in January 1884.

I quickly found it was written by Dr. Frederick W. Faber of London back in 1854, and entitled "Pilgrims of the Night." It originally had seven stanzas, but the American love of brevity shortened it to just three in hymn books printed on this side of the Atlantic. The surviving stanzas were likely sung by the mourners on Interlachen that winter day described by Harriet Switzer so many years ago:

Darker than night life's shadows fall around us,
And, like benighted men we miss our mark;
God hides himself, and grace hat scarcely found us
Ere death finds out his victims in the dark.

Rest comes at length, though life be long and dreary,
The day must dawn, and darksome night be past;
Faith's journey ends in welcome to the weary,
And heaven, the heart's true home, will come at last.

Cheer up my soul! Faith's moonbeams softly glisten
Upon the breast of life's most troubled sea;
And it will cheer thy drooping heart to listen
To those brave songs which angels mean for thee.

*Annotations Upon Popular Hymns, by Charles Seymour Robinson, 1893.
*Thomas Carlyle: A History of His Life in London, 1834-1881, by James Anthony Froude, 1885.