For many years, this building was always talked about by the homeowners and people in the neighborhood that it was a slave cabin. Research and an archeological dig proved that it was. It has been restored in the last few years.
From the historic marker, “St. Augustine’s most famous garage building began its life long before the automobile age. The crack running down the east wall from top to bottom shows the original length of the structure, before it was enlarged in the 1920s for automobile and storage needs. Built in the decades before the Civil War, it was part of Buena Esperanza Plantation which covered the southern tip of the peninsula. Constructed of the native shellstone, coquina, as are all but one of the city’s oldest buildings, it is the sole known survivor of the many plantation slave cabins shown in several parts of the city on a map made here right on the eve of the Civil War.”
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.
There are many articles who do a much better job explaining the importance of the United States Colored Infantry and who made up the troops. The troops were made up freed men from the North and South. For Southern ones, many volunteered to fight after a Southern city was under control of Union troops. They played an important role in defeating the Confederacy.