San Sebastian and Pinehurst Cemeteries are located in West St. Augustine on Pearl Street. The two cemeteries are next to each other and are stated to be among the oldest Black cemeteries in the state of Florida. There is conflicting information on whether the cemeteries began before or after the Civil War.
The cemeteries contain a mixture of commercial and vernacular headstones, along with military ones. Additionally, there are mementos left on many graves. Everything from conch shells to dolls is scattered throughout.
There is no truth that carved chains on a headstone mean someone is born into slavery. Most chains represent the fraternal organization Fraternal Order of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. They are frequently joined with the letters “ F L T,” which stands for “Friendship, Love, Truth.”
I read several journal articles about the documentation of slave and Black cemeteries, and there was no mention that markers with chains meant someone was born into slavery. What is consistently mentioned are broken dish ware, clocks, shells, and different plants.
A circle of chains, broken or unbroken, can represent death or hope respectively.
This cemetery shared two borders with the all-white cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery.
When I first fell in love with cemeteries, I was always looking for impressive Victorian influenced markers. While I still love them, my interest has expanded to document vernacular markers. Folk art in headstones always interests me. I always wonder about the person being memorialized and the person who made the marker. The makers are often lost to history.
The Joiner Cemetery sits on the edge of farmland. Outside of traditional markers that can be seen in any cemetery, there are several folk art headstones where a sawtooth pattern can be seen. The letter stamping is all very similar.
As many of the markers are in poor condition, it’s important that these headstones are documented before they are lost forever.
Originally the home of Alpine Presbyterian Church, the Alpine Community Church in Menlo, Georgia, is located in the northwest Georgia mountains. The church was built in 1853. The cemetery contains markers that represent the long history of the church with a number of Victorian and more modern markers.
Started in 1853, Catholic Cemetery was developed after leaders in the Catholic Diocese asked that there be a Catholic section in Laurel Grove North Cemetery, and their request was denied. After the cemetery opened, many remains were moved from Colonial Park Cemetery to here. Along with the remains, many of the stones were moved, too.
Sherman’s troops used the cemetery as an encampment area. Many markers were damaged, and the ironwork was used to build fortifications.
This is an overlooked cemetery when people think of the must-see cemeteries in Savannah. There are several grand Victorian markers. There’s at least one John Walz of “Little Gracie” fame.
Located in Buckhead, the New Hope AME church is an anomaly compared to the exclusive homes that run along Arden Road. The vernacular church resembles many Black churches in rural Georgia with the central gable and tower. The church was founded in 1869 by newly freedmen and women. James H. Smith, a white Buckhead farmer, donated three acres of land to the congregation to build a church and a school.
The original church building was destroyed by fire in 1927. The current building consists of a 1928 basement and a 1936 sanctuary.
The school burned in 1942.
The cemetery’s earliest burial is 1889. Since the cemetery photos were taken, the cemetery has been restored.