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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Jul. 11, 2019 1 year ago

Ormond Beach Historical Society searching for untold stories in Gethsemane Cemetery

Not much is known about the 200 graves in the town's historic all-African American cemetery, and the Historical Society is hoping to change that.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The Ormond Beach Historical Society is aiming to preserve more of the city's black history by investigating one of the oldest — and least known— cemeteries in town. 

Gethsemane Cemetery is nestled in the 100 block of South Orchard Street, and has been closed for some time. It is home to close to 200 graves, said Erlene Turner, who is both a board member and chairman of the education committee for the Historical Society. A historically all-African American cemetery, Gethsemane is the final resting place for a diverse range of people, including veterans, and for most of them, their stories remain untold.

That's why the Historical Society is asking for help identifying those buried in the cemetery, and hopes that descendants of relatives could come forward and provide details of their lives. Researching efforts began seven years ago with Board Member Joyce Benedict, Turner said.

The Historical Society currently performs two re-enactment events at Hillside Cemetery and Pilgrim's rest. Turner said the organization hopes to expand that.

“So what we’re trying to do is have a similar program here at Gethsemane," Turner said.

Maybe some of the people buried here worked for John D. Rockefeller or at the former Hotel Ormond, Turner said. The oldest visible date on a grave in the cemetery is 1870. 

James F. Daniels, who moved to Ormond Beach in 1939 when he was 11, said a lot of people were buried at Gethsemane during the 1940s and 50s. One of them is his younger brother. There are also friends and cousins of Daniels resting at Gethsemane.

“Lots of people I know out here," Daniels said.

To contact the Historical Society about potential leads for those in the cemetery, call 677-7005 or email [email protected]


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