La Grange Community Church and Cemetery

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LaGrange Community Church.

This place was pretty awesome, though I do have a thing for cemeteries with dirt roads running through them, especially if there’s a gorgeous church on the property. The La Grange Community Church was built in 1872 and it still stands like a sentinel at the front of the cemetery. It’s been tweaked here and there with a bay window added to the front and the second story was removed, but it is still such a treasure because the founders of all of these small cities in this area are commemorated here. You’ll see the last name Mims on the historical marker- and there is a whole plot for the Titus family in the cemetery that includes Henry Titus, the founder of Titusville.  The first pastor is poignantly buried very close to the front of the church, his name was W. N. Chadoin and he passed away in 1904. He has a hall named after him at Stetson University according to one source. You can tour the church on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 10-12 according to the website. I’m definitely going back to do that.

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Dirt roads.

The cemetery is a sandy one, and with the dirt track running through it I felt like I really was there with the pioneers, walking through on a hot Sunday afternoon. The major difference is that the cemetery is packed and at the time it would not have looked like it does now. In one corner people are literally so close that you can’t walk from grave to grave without feeling like you’re stepping on someone. In that same corner there is a cedar tree and underneath it is a folding chair painted a pale pink color. It’s unfolded, quite close to the head of one of the graves and it was easy to imagine someone sitting there often, talking to a loved one nearby.

One of the graves in the same section had been decorated with brightly colored duct tape, which I had never seen before in a cemetery. The tape didn’t really stick to the concrete, but some of the stripes still remained and it was definitely bold compared with the other stones nearby. The cemetery association has been hard at work though, not only were there trash cans full of old flowers and debris waiting to be picked up, but there were also small stones with names on them to commemorate people who were known to be buried there before 1900, but without any known plot. They’re there, they just aren’t sure where. I loved it that they did this.

Pink chair.
Pink chair.

After a long walk through the cemetery we came back to the church and happened to notice that we were being calmly observed by two emus and a pack of pygmy goats living on the lot next door. Some of the goats had recently had kids and they were tiny little things with the cutest bleats I’ve ever heard.

I wanted them all.

The emus came right up to the fence to gaze at us with their interesting dark eyes, and they seemed to like our company because they stayed right next to us the whole time we stood there. We left after communing with them for a few minutes. I’ve always liked them, but the ones I’ve met on friend’s farms have been pretty weird and frantic. These were calm.

Henry Titus.
Henry Titus.

On the way to the beach we happened to find one more cemetery on what had been Canaveral property in the 60’s, but this one was very different. It is one grave belonging to Emma Watton, and it has been fenced off and carefully preserved with one stone marker. Small stuffed toys had been tied to the fence by passers-by and it was a touching scene literally in the middle of no-damn-where, right in the middle of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It is rumored that there are 3 graves there, but there’s only the one marker and one name on the sign for Emma. She was a young girl who died of fever and she was buried there under a tree, but the tree died long ago. Again, I looked up to find that we were being observed but this time by a woman in dark sunglasses and a crazy outfit who was talking on her cell phone…in the middle of nothing but trees and grass. I probably imagined her after a few hours in the heat but she seemed real enough and disturbed that we were there.

After all of this we hit the beach for a little more time in the sun… and three days nursing my sunburn afterward. It was worth it though. The sky and the sea were incredibly blue that day.