The cemetery tour will be an annual event, just as the Pilgrim’s Rest tour is on Granada Blvd.
The present met the past during the first organized tour of the Hillside Cemetery on Seton Avenue in Ormond Beach. Nestled among oak trees in a quiet neighborhood behind Osceola Elementary, the graveyard is the burial place for many of the founders of Ormond Beach and subsequent generations.
“There are many people who don’t even know this graveyard is here,” said Sandy Rossmeyer, President of the Hillside Cemetery Association.
The first grave visited was that of Joseph and Mary Belle Price, portrayed by Tom Massfeller and Julie Stearn. The Prices spoke of their home Hammock Home and their friendship and partnership with John Anderson.
“We built the first bridge across the Halifax,” Joseph Price said. “We were in a race to build the bridge with some folks in Daytona Beach and we won.”
Price and Anderson also built The Hotel Ormond, the first “sky scraper” in the area.
Mary Belle was the first president of the Village Improvement Association.
John Sterthaus stood by his gravestone and welcomed the first of two groups of nearly 30 people to tour the cemetery on Saturday, March 4.
“I died in 1927, my son is buried there, my grandson was buried in France during World War II, and my great grandson is right there” he said pointing to George Sterthaus standing, very much alive, in the crowd.
The re-enactors included World War I veteran Joshua Polk Weeks, a second cousin of President James Polk, portrayed by 18-year-old David Crenshaw of the Hillside Angels, a group that raises funds for the cemetery upkeep. Crenshaw was chosen because he was the only one that could fit in the slim uniform.
John Andrew and Mary Bostrum had a basket of oranges on top of their tombstones and John Bostrum held an apple waiting for his horse Jerry to come and get it.
“Jerry will find this apple. He loves apples,” he told the group.
Turning toward the youngest visitor, Elizabeth MacDonald, Bostrum asked her if she would keep an eye out for Jerry. Elizabeth looked skeptical but nodded her head. When asked at the end of the tour what she had learned she said, “That there’s no horse here.”
John Bostrum donated the land for the cemetery. Chartered in 1896, the oldest headstone found is dated 1877. The woman buried in the sand dunes before the cemetery was chartered, will be featured in next year’s tour.
The tour was a collaboration of The Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Hillside Cemetery Association.