Jennings State Forest is located in Clay County and is a great place to enjoy nature and experience some history as well. Going back to the 1800’s many families had homesteads out here, farms and schools dotted the landscape as well. Turpentine was one of the main industries in this area and the forest provided plenty of resources and places for turpentine camps.
Many of the families also had cemeteries here and one of them was known as “Dunn Cemetery”. It is a lost cemetery and sadly no tombstones remain but the people buried there have a story and once lived on the land nearby. The cemetery was overgrown on my visit, there is a front gate and parts of the wooden fencing can still be seen around the perimeter. Flag markers now indicate the places where people have been laid to rest and at the center of the cemetery is a memorial listing the names of the people here, a few are unknown.
According to some records I found this was the property of a man named Mr. Dunn and he was the first laid to rest here back in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. He may have had a farm and homestead nearby. In fact if you look at the trail maps for the forest you can find a Dunn’s Farm Trail. Other names listed here are also common throughout the other cemeteries in the forest.
As I explored around this place I felt a sense of peace and it is such a nice resting place in the forest. I imagined what life must’ve been like here and how the area looked. I could see some of the old roads that they may have used. I wish that the cemetery could be better maintained but hopefully in time that will change. I hope to learn more about this place and the people here and I feel that is one way of preserving the history, by helping to give it life again. Check out my some of my photos below and a video for a tour around the site. If you visit this cemetery or others like it please be respectful of the sites and do not disturb them.
Located in the old community of Ehren in Pasco County is a historical site known as the Mount Carmel Church and Cemetery. The Mount Carmel African methodist Episcopal Church was a wooden structure and the cemetery was nearby. One of the early pastors was Reverend Christopher C. Marshall, followed in later years by Reverend Byrel Dawkins. Sometime after the Great Depression the congregation folded and members joined other local churches.
The cemetery may have up to forty unmarked graves, the date of the first burial is unknown. This cemetery could possibly date back to the mid-1800’s, the first marked grave is 1903 and the latest marked grave is 1954. A few of the tombstones still remain but aren’t in good condition however the site does seem to be maintained. In 2006, the Pasco County Black Caucus, in corporation with the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners and other concerned individuals, initiated efforts to provide recognition and perpetual care of this site.
The Ehren Pine Company sawmill employed a large number of local African Americans. Many of them lived in company housing, others worked in agriculture and for the railroad. After the sawmill burned in 1920, many residents moved away. Some residents remained and worked in Drexel and Odessa and other nearby communities.
While exploring in Twin Rivers State Forest located in Madison County, I found this old cemetery that dates back to the late 1800’s. The cemetery is known as The Stroud Cemetery and there are seventeen listed burials here.
So far the information I have learned is that the Strouds were early settlers in Madison County. The cemetery though contains several family names and it is possible that these families also lived in the area. One name in particular is Sullivan and I found a family relative that told me the Sullivans married into the Stroud family. There was a Stroud-Sullivan homestead as well.
Like other older cemeteries around Florida this one has several infant graves which is always sad to see. You have to understand that life back in those times was harder and many children didn’t survive. I learned that in many cases children wouldn’t even be given a name until they made it past of the age of two. Which is why at some of these gravesites you may see unmarked graves that just read “Infant”. I am not sure of the exact reasons but most likely may have been from disease or sickness.
Today the cemetery seems maintained to a certain degree, sadly many of the tombstones are eroding away or have been damaged. There is a fence and nice sign at the entrance and is a nice reminder of history to see in this forest.
This is an old cemetery I found in an interesting location, it is called Holder Cemetery. Located at the intersection of County Road 491 and U.S. Route 41 in Citrus County. This is also the location of the small community known as Holder.
The cemetery is small and only has seven people listed on the burial records. When I explored around the site I could only find three tombstones though. I would like to learn more history on this area, if I come across more information I will post an update. If you have any information please feel free to contact me as well. It would be nice to see a sign placed at the cemetery describing the history. I am sure many pass by it and don’t even know it’s there…
Near Horseshoe Beach in Dixie County located by Jenna Wildlife Management Area is a lone Confederate Soldier gravesite. Henry M. Smith is buried here and he lived from 1840-1892. There is a dirt road that leads you back to the cemetery where there is a large clearing where he is buried. It is Surrounded by woods, such a peaceful and scenic place…
So far this is the history I have been able to find about him. “Henry was a private in Company I of the 3rd Florida Infantry regiment. He enlisted in August 1861 and was discharged in April 1865. He was wounded during the battle at Perryville, Kentucky on October 11, 1862”.
This is just some of the fascinating history that you can see in this area of Florida! There are lots of wilderness areas and forest roads that you can explore around here as well. Check out some of my photos below and my video for a look around.