Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spring Visitors at Tolomato


Spring always brings our migratory visitors back to St Augustine, and this year, it’s started a little early. Our first three group visits this year have been very interesting and remind us what Tolomato is all about.
At the end of February, we had a  visit from the Greek community, led by the wonderful people from St Photios Shrine on St George Street. The many Greek burials at Tolomato are those of the Greek component of the Minorcans.  In St Augustine talk, “Minorcans” means those people who left Minorca – a formerly Spanish Mediterranean island under the control of England during St Augustine’s late 18th century British Period, also as a result of the settlement of the French and Indian War -  and who arrived at New Smyrna Beach in 1765.



But this does not mean they were all Minorcans born and bred. Many of the people that Dr. Turnbull brought back with him as indentured servants (read: slaves) for his indigo plantation in New Smyrna Beach were Italians, Sardinians, Corsicans…and Greeks.  Dr. Turnbull had been the British consul in Smyrna, which was under the Turks at that time, and his wife was a Greek woman from Smyrna, Maria Gracia Bin Dura.  Above, you see the wreath placed by the Greek contingent at the Minorcan sign.  Blue and white are the Greek colors.

Dr. Turnbull's wife thought Greeks could withstand the Florida heat better than the usual English or Irish laborers generally used by the English, so they had originally gone to the Mediterranean to collect Greek workers. However, conflicts  with the Turks had increased, and many of the Greeks had either fled the area or were not permitted  by the Turks to leave.  So Dr. Turnbull dropped off his Greeks on Minorca and then went and collected more workers from other Mediterranean ports – and finally had some 1300 people to take back to Florida.  And the rest, of course, is history...


In 1777, the Minorcans rebelled after years of mistreatment at the hands of Dr. Turnbull and came to St Augustine. They were accompanied by their priest, Fr Pedro Camps, who served both the Catholics and the Greek Orthodox in the colony.   His statue at the Cathedral, shown above, depicts him protecting the Minorcans of the colony.
He was given permission to bury his parishioners at the former Tolomato Indian mission, so there are many Greeks from that first immigration buried at Tolomato Cemetery.  Some of the names have been shortened and Anglicized – such as Papy, for example, which was originally a much longer and more complicated name – but the Greek presence is throughout. 
So it was wonderful to host our Greek friends. This was a special visit, provided for the Greek Deputy Minister, Terens-Nikolaos Quick, shown in the photo below. With him were the Greek Consul in Miami, Adamantia Klotsa, several members of the local Greek community, and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, as well as Polly Hillier, director of St Photios Shrine and many, many Greek descendants of the New Smyrna arrival.  It was a beautiful visit and the TCPA crowd was thrilled to welcome them.

The people in this photo are Dr. John Symeonides (AHEPA), Deputy Minister of the Hellenic Parliament Terens-Nikolaos Quick, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, Commander George Kostanis, Consul General Adamantia Klotsa and Paul Kotrotsios

The next group visit was a large group of Cuban refugees and their Cuban American descendants from Miami, who came to visit the burial place of Fr. Felix Varela. They were led by Julio Hernandez of Miami and were members of the Union Familia Escolapia Cubana (UFEC), an association made up  alumni of schools in Cuba and the US Cuban community run by the Escolapians or Piarists, a religious teaching order founded in Rome by a Spaniard, St. Joseph Calasanz, in the early 17th century. The religious order is known in Spanish as the Orden de las Escuelas Pias (Order of the Pious Schools) and is the oldest of the orders founded specifically for education.
Establishing themselves in Cuba in the mid-19th century, they ran several important schools in the cities of Cuba that provided an excellent education for both the children of prosperous families and the children of the poor.  They were particularly known for their teaching of religion and humanities, and their devotion to Fr. Varela results from their respect for him as an educator and tireless teacher himself. He wrote and did much during his years in Cuba aimed at improving and modernizing education throughout Latin America, producing textbooks as well as writings on educational theory.

The group of alumni was delighted with their visit to the burial place of Fr. Varela.  They were accompanied by one of the members of the order, Fr. Mario Vizcaino, who is shown above standing to the right of Elizabeth Gessner while she tells the visitors about the tomb of Fr. Miguel O'Reilly, Felix Varela's first teacher.  They had earlier been received by St. Augustine Bishop Felipe Estévez with a talk about Fr. Varela.   The group is considering a contribution to the improvement of the lighting in the chapel, and possibly towards the purchase of some AV equipment, and they promise to return.

And finally…the Rotary Club!  The Rotarians came to place a plaque at Tolomato Cemetery commemorating their very generous donation to the completion of the new fence and gate.  St. Augustine residents who drive by the cemetery can watch it taking shape, and once it is finished and the fence is erected, the plaque will be placed on the fence to show the Rotarians’ concern for the beautification and preservation of historic St Augustine. We hope this will take place sometime in the next couple of months.



The Rotary Club of St Augustine came out to the cemetery after their monthly meeting to present the plaque to the TCPA and Fr Tom Willis, as the representative of the property owner, the Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine, for which Tolomato served as the parish cemetery until its closing in 1884.   Below we see Elizabeth Gessner, Fr. Tom Willis and Rotary Club members surrounding Katherine Battenhorst, who is holding the new plaque.



A little research showed how appropriate this project was for the Rotary Club.  The Rotary was founded in 1915 in Chicago by several local businessmen, and got its name from the fact that they initially rotated their meeting places between their different offices.  They were dedicated to the improvement of international understanding through commerce and intellectual exchanges. Their founding, of course, is well after the founding or even closing date of the cemetery, but the Rotary has a long history of connection with St Augustine.



In fact, a Rotarian was one of the people most important in reestablishing St Augustine’s connection with Spain after the Spanish American War had left hostility between the two countries. Ángel Cuesta la Madrid, a Tampa cigar maker originally from Asturias in Northern Spain, birthplace of St Augustine’s founder, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, was a Rotarian and even went on to found the first Rotary Club in Spain. But while in Tampa, where he produced the famous Cuesta-Rey cigars,it was his reconciliation project that eventually brought about the famous trip of St Augustine and US officials to Avilés in 1924 to receive the casket of Pedro Menendez.  The admiral had been reburied in another monument, and Spain gave his original casket to the City of St Augustine as a symbol of renewed friendship.  The casket is still on view in the Diocesan Museum in uptown St Augustine, and the Rotary is still helping St Augustine to discover, communicate and honor its history.



Friday, February 26, 2016

Letter Perfect

Tolomato Cemetery receives many researchers every year, some of them interested in the people buried there, some of them interested in the technical details of the burials…and this year, for the first time, a researcher interested in the lettering of the marker inscriptions.
Our visitor, Lori Young, is a professor of art at the University of Ohio Bowling Green and
is Chair of the Graphic Design division.  She was making a tour of Southern cemeteries for a book project she is undertaking and we were delighted that Tolomato was one of them.  Not only do we have 18th and 19th century American inscription carving, we have a couple of interesting examples of Cuban work to show off.


Part of Lori Young’s specialty, graphic design, is the area of typefaces, that is, simply the way the letter looks.  In this marker for members of the Avice family, you will see several different fonts.

What is a font? Just to give you a brief introduction, a letterform is the way a printed or engraved letter is shaped in terms of slant, thickness, ornamentation, and style. Does it have hooks at the end of the strokes or is it straight up and down? Or perhaps it has flourishes and curlicues? Is it thick or thin, slanted as in italic or dark as in bold?

A typeface means a group of letterforms (a “font family”) that have the same features. One easy thing that distinguishes fonts when you look at them, for example, are whether they have little hooks (serifs) at the ends of the letters or just straight lines (sans-serif).  Below we see two modern fonts, Courier New (with serifs) and Arial (sans-serif) that are commonly used in printed documents:
Courier       Arial
Lettering on stones in cemeteries generally reflects the popular styles of the time and place and can be very useful in telling us something about the people buried there and their times.
Tolomato has several markers that are interesting from a typographical point of view.

The Varela Chapel is first on the list. On the ledger stone that covers the crypt, Lori told us that we have an example of a so-called “Tuscan” font. This was based on a European wooden font (that is, one to be used when letters were printed with wooden blocks) and was sometimes used in stencils. It was popular everywhere, particularly in the Americas, including the Wild West, during the 19th century.
But the Varela stone was carved in Cuba of Cuban marble and not in the Wild West! However, Tuscan-style fonts were well-known everywhere for use in signs and inscriptions, and the Cuban stone carvers probably stenciled the lettering on and then tapped it out with their chisels. Below is a close- up of part of the inscription, which says, fittingly, “THE CUBANS,” referring to the fact that the marker was a tribute to Fr. Varela from his Cuban admirers.

On the front of the chapel is a stone with the classic winged hourglass, indicating that time flies and life is fleeting, although the Varela Chapel has the somewhat unusual variation of bat’s wings. This was placed by the Cubans who paid for the chapel and ordered its furnishings “to explain why we had built it.” This marker is in Spanish, and its translation reads, “This chapel was built by the Cubans in 1853  to preserve the remains of Father Varela.”  And Lori provided some interesting details that we had never noticed or considered before.

The font used on the stone is known as an “Egyptian” font. It’s blocky and has long bars and feet and is also known as a “slab serif” font. In this one, the serifs aren’t little hooks, but are solid, slab-like projections over the bases of the letter.
This font was formally developed in the early 1800s. There is no connection with Egypt in either the design or the artistic approach, but the impact of Napoleon’s trips through Egypt was very strong at the time and somehow the font became known as “Egyptian.” Because of the name, it became popular again in the early 20th century with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. It’s one of the precursors of the famous mid-20th century Courier font shown earlier.

In addition, the decorative details she is pointing out here are worth examining. These were based on a branching pattern that was common in Southeast Asian temple art and came into Western design motifs, somewhat modified, in the 18th and 19th centuries with the increase of European trade in goods and antiquities with Asia.  Its vaguely recalled association with sacred spaces or items made it particularly suitable for use on gravestones or other Western funeral art.

Lori also found a lot to interest her in this large marker for the Avice family, which you saw at the top of this article. Here, Lori shows Cynthia McAuliffe a letter in the rather large and varied (from a font point of view) inscription on this marker. She called our attention to the calligraphic drawing of the numeral “1” with a sort of upstroke at the top. Notice that there are no serifs, no feet – nothing, just an indentation at the top of the letter, as if it had been a pen-stroke and the writer had swept up the line.

This was simply to distinguish the numeral “1” from its sneaky look-alikes, the capital “I” and the lower case letter “I.”  Anybody who has ever had to struggle over a password or email address where any of these three symbols (“1,” “I” and “l” – that would be one, eye and ell) could be present will certainly appreciate this!  Notice how it differs from the “I” in “DIED” above it.

Lori will keep us posted on her further research.  Below, she takes one last photo of the Elizabeth Forrester vault from 1798, the oldest marked burial in the state of Florida, its beautiful 18th century script unfortunately almost eroded away.  Lori Young will be on sabbatical next year to work on this project, so we might even hope that she can come back and visit Tolomato again and give us more fascinating details on this rarely considered aspect of cemeteries.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Before Tolomato


St Augustine was founded in 1565 and Tolomato was established as a cemetery in 1777.  Located just outside the city wall and under the gun emplacements, the site had been in use since about 1706 as a Franciscan Indian mission, which would also have included a burial ground. Abandoned during the British Period, the arrival of the Minorcans in 1777 brought Tolomato into use again, this time as the parish cemetery. It remained so after the British left and the Spanish returned and built what is now the Cathedral on the Plaza.
But where were St Augustinians buried before that time?  Just this week, we had a dramatic meeting with the past.


The City Archaeologist, Carl Halbirt, conducts digs at places where the ground is going to be disturbed down to a certain depth. There is a sewer replacement project planned for Charlotte St., which is one of the original streets of the city and passes by the site of the first permanent church established by the Spanish in what is now the downtown area.  The church was named Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, Our Lady of the Remedies, which was a popular name in the Spanish territories because of their remoteness from even the relatively rudimentary medical help of the times.  Prayer was really the only recourse.  The fact that the 18th century Spanish Military Hospital is located right next to this site indicates its importance in the history of healing throughout the centuries.

The building next to the site where Carl made this latest find is located on the exact site of Los Remedios, as indicated by the archaeological plaque on the west side, Aviles Street, commemorating another one of Carl’s digs. The building, shown below, is now in use as an art gallery but was built in 1964 by the State of Florida for use as a visitor information center.  It was constructed on the site of Los Remedios and its cemetery. One of the features of the building was a plexiglass window in the floor through which visitors could gaze down upon skeletons of those who had been buried there centuries earlier.  Tastes changed and it was eventually decided that this was not very respectful, so the window is now closed!

Los Remedios was built in 1572 and destroyed in 1586 by Drake, rebuilt and then destroyed for a final time by Governor James Moore in 1702, in the same wave of attacks that destroyed the Tolomato Mission near the modern Guana River Preserve.  Burials thus continued at the site for some 130 years, although we do not know with any certainty the number of people buried there. 
The usual place of burial was under the church floor, particularly for the more important people in town. When the space under the floor was exhausted, burials moved out into the churchyard, which was usually set behind a wall so that all the space was consecrated space.  An interesting detail that you can see if you look closely at this photo is a bit of what is possibly the tabby floor of the church or at any rate a seal of clay around skeletal foot bones (which are pointing towards the right edge of the photo), indicating that these people were indeed buried under the floor of the church and not in the churchyard.
The general practice was to leave burials in situ for a certain amount of time, and when more space was needed, the few remaining bones of persons buried earlier were collected and reburied, often in an ossuary. The word is based on the Latin word os, meaning bone, and refers to a container or space for reburial of bones. Sometimes they were placed in niches in the wall around the churchyard, if there was a stone or adobe wall, and sometimes the ossuary was simply a separate walled-off space where bones were cast. And sometimes they were taken out temporarily and then reburied on top of the new and deeper burial, as probably happened here.




If you examine the photo above, you will see the remains of at least three people.  This means that the ground had been disturbed sometime way back when, since the 19th and 20th century disturbances of the ground for urban projects never replaced the burials but simply cast them aside or at best dumped them back into the ground helter-skelter.  But these “extra” bones had been carefully replaced, so Carl said that he thought they had been removed to permit new burials and then replaced in a small rectangular area that would have constituted the ossuary.  In other words, we were looking at some of the earliest St Augustine residents, possibly even the first settlers, and were looking at bones that had not been seen in hundreds of years.

 Now take a look at the area circled in red.  This is a jawbone seated on top of a spinal column (which is lying under older bones that had been replaced in the grave) and of one of the interesting things is that the head points toward the east. Normally, Catholic burials in a cemetery were facing towards the East, since the Lord was supposed to come again from the east on the Day of Judgment.  However, this skull is facing west. Why is that?

Fr. Tom Willis from the Cathedral came out to visit his “ancestral parishioners,” which is exactly what they would have been, since the Cathedral has inherited all these earlier Church burial spaces. When Carl mentioned that these bodies were buried in the church facing towards the altar, Fr. Tom Willis explained that in this situation, this actually was the East…the “liturgical East.” That is, the place where the altar is located represents the East, so if you are facing it, you are facing towards Jerusalem, the Garden of Eden and all of the other Biblical references of early cartography and spatial understanding of the East. And of course, it is there that you will see the Risen Lord, and this is why in the Catholic liturgy, the altar is considered the East.  Thus people buried under the floor in the church building would have been facing the altar, which in this case was at the west end of the building – but thereby became the liturgical East.  So while facing west, the burials within the church building were all actually facing the East, in the symbolic sense of the term. 

When Carl came across these remains today, he fully expected to do so because he knows the downtown sites so well.  However, these burials were remarkably well preserved, probably because of their closeness to the water and the fact that they have been kept almost underwater for centuries. Air dries bones and reduces them to dust, but water will preserve them until they are removed from the wet environment…and then they dry out and turn to dust almost immediately. 
Below, Carl probes to determine the starting point for the "sterile soil," that is, soil that has not been disturbed and lies underneath the burials, although the soil was too wet to determine this.  The water table is about three feet down at this point.

But back to Charlotte Street. What is going to happen now?  Carl would like the city to move the proposed sewer line to the other side of Charlotte Street, a narrow street that has already been disturbed many times, and then he will cover up the bones with a layer of sand and replace the soil and the street will be repaved with cobblestones.  And as for those remains that cannot be replaced in their spaces at the site, they will go either to Tolomato or to the Mission for reburial. 

We don’t know anything about these individuals; above we see Dr. Kathy Deagan contemplating their bones. They were all once like us, living, breathing people walking the streets of St Augustine.  And I’m sure that they had no idea that, several centuries later , their very skeletons would be appearing before the eyes of thousands of people in a form that could not in any possible way have been imaginable to them - notice the large camera lens at the top of the photo! 

But most of all, as Fr. Tom Willis reminded us, we should remember that hundreds of years ago, these people received the benefit of what is still one of the most important Corporal Works of Mercy, which are things to be done by a Christian to aid others: Burying the Dead. Even here in rough early St Augustine, desperate though its circumstances may have been, these human bodies were treated with respect and given the honor due them.  And we should thank our ancestors on this little peninsula for having saved and passed on this heritage to us.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's Happening At Last...and a Merry Christmas to All!

What’s happening?  The wall and the fence, at long last. Below you see the current state of the entrance to Tolomato Cemetery.



Work began last week. So far the masons have taken down most of the cracked and unstable parts of the concrete wall and have made the cuts to install the piers that will support the new fence.  Below you see the masons making one of the cuts, this one on the north side of the entry way.




The cemetery itself is closed off with temporary, moveable fencing that will probably remain up for a couple of months, until the wall is done and the fence is installed and all is secure again.


This is a cleaned up view of the cut. Based on the research done by Nick McAuliffe, we think that this part of the wall was built around 1916.  Most of the wall seems to be concrete block under a layer of concrete mortar.  An article in the precursor of the St Augustine Record for that year reports that construction is about to begin on the wall. 



And almost 100 years later, here we are again! Below you see Janet Jordan and Nick McAuliffe, who also volunteer to work with the City Archaeologist, Carl Halbirt, doing a quick inspection of the site.  They found very little of interest, except for a probably late 19th or early 20th century horseshoe, which we of course considered to be sign of good luck.


But that was last week, when it was still warm and sunny. This weekend would have been our normal Open Day, but we had to cancel for the first time in five years because access to the site was impossible. Most of it was taped off and there was construction equipment in the gateway. However, today turned out to be a suddenly cold and windy day, so perhaps it was just as well that this was the day we had to close.

Tolomato Cemetery should be open as usual on the Third Saturday next month, the date of which will be January 16, 2016.  The job won’t be complete by then, but certainly the wall will be done and at least a start will have been made on the fence and the gate.  So that means that if you live here, you have to come by and check on it whenever you can – and if you don’t live here, you have to check our Facebook page, Historic Tolomato Cemetery, because our board members will be updating it regularly with shots of the work in progress.

And in the meantime, from the “temporary Tolomato” shown in Nick’s photo below, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!




Friday, October 30, 2015

Bosque Bello–Tolomato’s Fernandina Beach Cousin

 

Last weekend, I visited what I know think of as Tolomato Cemetery’s cousin: Bosque Bello Cemetery in Fernandina Beach, founded in 1798 during the Second Spanish Period. This makes it a close relative of Tolomato Cemetery.

Sign

Tolomato Cemetery was first used as a cemetery during the British Period, when the Minorcans arrived and established their community in the north end of the city; but it really entered into its own as the parish cemetery for the town during the Second Spanish period, one of the most interesting eras in St Augustine’s interesting history. And what was happening in St Augustine at that time?

The big parish church of St Augustine, which became a cathedral in 1870 with the designation of St. Augustine as a diocese with its own bishop, had just been finished and dedicated in 1797. Fr. Miguel O’Reilly was the parish priest of the church, and Gov. Enrique White (a Dublin born Spanish citizen) was the governor of Florida. Jesse Fish, Maria Evans, don Juan McQueen, Miguel Isnardy, Pedro Benet and a host of other colorful characters were alive and well in St Augustine. With the exception of Miguel Isnardy, who is buried somewhere under the floor in the Cathedral, and Jesse Fish, all of these people are now buried at Tolomato Cemetery.

IMG_1208

Outside of little St Augustine, the new United States was consolidating and already testing the borders of Spanish Florida. Meanwhile, on the Continent, that famous Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte, shown glowering below, was preparing for the coup of 1799 against the French government, which would set him on a quest to conquer all of Europe. In 1808, he would invade and conquer Spain, whose far flung empire would still manage to limp along with little help from the patria madre. The Napoleonic Wars produced complicated European alliances, not always the same at all times in all places, and of course spilled over into the New World with our War of 1812, which ended in 1815 and involved most of the major European powers.

th0J59FN56

Meanwhile in Spain, the anti-Napoleonic “government in exile” in Cádiz wrote a Constitution in 1812 -the very same Constitution that is commemorated by the obelisk in St Augustine’s plaza mayor, erected in 1814. But unfortunately, by 1814, the absolute monarch, Fernando VII (Ferdinand the Seventh) was back in control, and ordered that all Constitution monuments be taken down…an order that never got to or was ignored by St Augustine. Of course, all of this commotion had major effects on Spain and its colonies, and one of its minor but enduring effects was the origin and name of the town of…you guessed it, Fernandina Beach, named after the despised and tyrannical Fernando VII.  Still, we kept our obelisk…and created more, as you see below.

IMG_2163

If Fernando was so unpopular, how did the town get that name? It was bestowed by Governor Enrique White in 1811, right after Fernando (below) had returned to Spain upon the eviction of Jose Bonaparte, and around the time that one of the Second Spanish Period’s most interesting but most neglected figures, George J. F. Clarke, was employed as Surveyor General of East Florida.

ferdinand

Clarke was born in St Augustine during the British Period, became a Spanish citizen with the change of governments in 1783, and was baptized in St Augustine as a child in the 1780s during the Second Spanish Period, and then pursued a long career under various flags in the military, politics, agriculture and even scholarship. He died in 1836 in St Augustine, under yet another flag – this time, that of the United States, and as a US citizen – and is buried somewhere at Tolomato Cemetery.

Clarke’s most important or best known work was the platting of the town of Fernandina Beach and his subsequent government and military work in the protection of what is now known as Amelia Island from pirates and British marauders.

His ties with St Augustine remained very strong; his Irish-born mother, Honoria Clarke, had been widowed when her children were young and had bought a property at the corner of St Francis and Charlotte Streets, where George grew up. This property, of course, is now known as the Tovar House, after an earlier owner, and is part of the Oldest House complex.

IMG_2147

When George Clarke was finally out of public life on Amelia Island as the result of governmental changes, he returned to St Augustine and devoted himself to agricultural research and development. One of his closest collaborators was another gentleman scholar, Napoleon’s great nephew Prince Achille Murat, whose distinctive little house on the corner of Bridge and St George Streets is currently hosting an archeological dig turning up layers of our earliest history.

IMG_2165

Where does the cemetery come in? Bosque Bello was founded as part of the town of Fernandina Beach in 1798, and is in the “Old Town” area, about a mile from its better known newer downtown area, which was the result of a 19th century move of the town’s activities for commercial reasons. The cemetery is owned by the City of Fernandina Beach.

But my visit last week had nothing to do with any of this, but instead was related to St. Augustine’s own Sisters of St Joseph. I was simply tagging along with someone who was doing a research project on the history of the Sisters, many of whom are buried at Bosque Bello. So I found St Augustine and Tolomato connections everywhere, starting with the sign below.

IMG_4005

The sign is in front of the house below, which had been bought by Bishop Verot and where he installed some of the Sisters to work in nursing and education in Fernandina Beach. It is still a private residence, and in this photo, you even will catch a glimpse of the resident and his Halloween flag on the porch!

IMG_4007

In the lore of the Sisters, the house has an odd name: The Pin House. The name comes from the yellow fever outbreak of 1877, when people would leave their sick family members on the porch of the house, with notes pinned to their clothing identifying them and asking the sisters to take care of them.

We have to remember that nobody knew what caused or spread yellow fever at that time. It was a terrifying and uncontrollable disease, much like ebola, and people feared that it was communicable through contacts with infected victims. It would only be in 1905, another twenty five years or so, when it would be established that yellow fever was spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes. But Bishop Verot (shown below) sent the sisters out to help the sufferers at that time and they went willingly, despite what could easily be expected to be their fate. The Sisters of St Joseph cared for the patients as best they could, but yellow fever has a very high mortality rate and in that pre-antibiotics era little could be done, so there were many, many deaths from the dread disease.

IMG_2168

In fact, several of the SSJ died, including two of the original eight French sisters who had arrived in St Augustine in 1867 at the invitation of Bishop Verot. Along with many other yellow fever victims, they were buried in Bosque Bello. Below is the grave of one of the sisters, Mother Marie Celinie Joubert, located in the SSJ plot in the old part of the cemetery.

IMG_2101

The cemetery and town were platted in 1811 under Gov. Enrique White, who was a great urban development enthusiast, the same year as the never-realized plan for Tolomato Cemetery that would have meant laying it out in an orderly pattern of rows, aisles and numbered plots, as we see below. But many things were happening in Spain and the US at that time, so the Tolomato plan was never completed, although Old Town Fernandina Beach was in fact constructed according to plan and is the last colonial city to have been built on the grid plan provided in the Leyes de Indias, the Spanish master plan for colonial development in the “Indies.”

1811 Map_Section2_copy

The earliest marked grave at Bosque Bello dates to 1813, and was that of a French soldier who died in Fernandina Beach. We have to remember that Fernandina Beach was the site of many conflicts – between the Spanish and the British, between the Spanish and the (mostly French) pirates, between the French and the Spanish and the British and the American governments…between everybody and everybody, in fact. And it even had a short-lived independence movement, to complicate things further.

The other graves in the old part of the cemetery give a view of life on Amelia Island. There are, of course, many graves of children. The lamb was a common motif on the burial markers of children, such as the one below, for 4 year old J. R. Nelson, who died in 1902.

IMG_2118

There are the usual large markers for important men, the smaller markers for their wives, and many military markers. Of interest were the many markers for those who died in or were veterans of the Spanish American War, such as that of Alvin Willis, below. Much recruiting of soldiers for the Spanish American War was conducted in the Jacksonville area, and these stones reflect the impact of this now nearly forgotten war.

IMG_2110

Bosque Bello still lives up to its name – Beautiful Woods - because the woods are still beautiful. The cemetery has the requisite Florida live oaks with Spanish moss, and it also has a large number of old red cedar (cypress) trees. You can see the remains of these trees at Tolomato Cemetery, although we only have a couple of specimens still standing. But Bosque Bello has some dramatic and healthy examples still thriving.

IMG_2106

There is the odd modern touch of a huge power plant that steadily hums or throbs, depending on the demand at that time of day, in the background at the cemetery. If you look at the photo below, you can see the top of the stack. But it is a regular sound, not particularly obtrusive, and simply makes the visitor marvel that everything changes and yet is still the same.

IMG_2103

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Memory Eternal–Pat Kenney

 

Tolomato Cemetery is, well, a cemetery, and thus is all about death. But these are remote deaths, the last one some 125 years ago, and while we tell the stories of the people buried there, probably most of us skip over the fact that one day none of us will be there to tell that story.

Pat Kenney

Two weeks ago, we had our first death in the TCPA with the death of our dear docent and board member Pat Kenney, who was also going to be the editor of our first book on the cemetery. She died about a year and a half after having been diagnosed with cancer. Pat was a strong, positive person and even after her surgery was hoping to resume her work on the book project.

Pat was born in New York but brought up in St Augustine and spent most of her life in the St Augustine/Jacksonville area, so she knew many descendants of those buried at Tolomato, and was always eager to help them connect the dots on sometimes sketchy family records. She was always very much a part of St Augustine. When her family requested that memorial contributions be made to Tolomato Cemetery – a large number of the donations came from her classmates at St Joseph’s Academy, Class of ‘66.

She had a real passion for helping people to know things! Pat was often to be found at the back of the cemetery near the chapel, either working with Louise on the genealogy table or simply explaining that area to the visitors.  She was very shy about photos, so the only photo we had was one where she was leading a tour and had her back to the camera…but her daughter, Kelly, supplied us with a photo of Pat.

Pat Kenney photo

Our very first meeting with Pat came from a visit to Tolomato Cemetery in early 2011, when she visited the cemetery with a group of attendees of the Franciscan History conference at Flagler College. She then contacted us to find out more and to arrange for a visit with some of her students from FSCJ/Deerwood, where she taught at that time. The first time most of us met Pat was when she brought this group of students to the cemetery in May of 2011…and we were all completely impressed by the way she had prepared her students – many of whom were in the mortuary science program at the State College - and how concerned she was about them and their understanding of this site and about burial practices and respect in general.

Later, she contacted us about bringing another group from UNF, where she was then teaching, and also about getting more involved in the activities at the cemetery. And that was how Pat became a docent and then a board member and then the committee chair and editor for the projected book on the cemetery (which will be dedicated to her when it is eventually produced). 

She wanted to come back after her surgery, but that soon became impossible. Yet Pat was still a presence in the cemetery. So now all we can say is “We miss you, Pat.”

Tolomato Postcard 2

This is Pat’s obituary from the Florida Times Union:

image

During the active time of Tolomato Cemetery, the funeral chant in the Catholic Church was the “In Paradisum.” The English translation is: "May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest." 

This is the Latin, which you can hear by clicking here: In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.