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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Jun. 19, 2017 4 years ago

Oakridge Cemetery board members ask city to donate surrounding land

Though the cemetery was registered by the state in 1925, members say it's been around much longer.
by: Emily Blackwood News Editor

If you don't slow down, you just might miss the unpaved entrance to the historic Oakridge Cemetery — even though it's located on the busy North Nova Road at the intersection of a traffic light.  

Overgrown brush and unmaintained trees have blocked the tombstones from view, and the board members of the cemetery are hoping the city will change that. Kathy Curry, board president, asked city commissioners at a recent meeting if they would consider donating the city-owned land that surrounds the cemetery, which includes the lot that faces North Nova. City Manager Joyce Shanahan said the staff is still in process of reviewing the issue. 

"We need some beautification of the cemetery," Curry said. "We don't want all the trees destroyed, but some of it needs to be cleared."

Curry, who grew up in Ormond Beach and returned a few years ago, said the goal is to make people aware of the condition of the cemetery so they can raise money to give the people who are buried there the recognition they deserve. About seven years ago, the cemetery was vandalized. Curry said many tombstones were broken or moved, and there are now a lot of unmarked graves. 

"We need help trying to find where these people are buried," she said. "And if we can't mark them, we want to build a plaque or some time of memorial so we know that they're here."

Rosa Morey, the board's chief executive financial officer, said the cemetery is one of the few remaining pieces of evidence of community of Liberia and Sudan in Ormond Beach.

"We were one of the most affluent black communities at the time of slavery," she said. "It's a legacy, and we want to keep it going."

The cemetery was registered by the state of Florida in 1925, but Morey said it's been around much longer than that. Both she and Curry have family buried at Oakridge. 

"I grew up here, so my roots are here," Curry said, "and I don't care where you go or how long you're gone, there nothing like home." 


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