On a recent day off I decided to get out of the house and visit two cemeteries that I’d never been to before. The first one was Woodbridge Cemetery in Seminole County, close to Maitland. I drove right past what I thought was a sandy field full of dirt and weeds before I realized that there was a cemetery there. A very big, spread out cemetery without a single shade tree in sight. The whole thing was surrounded by a high chain link fence and I drove by twice before I found the open gate for visitors since the gates for funerals were both padlocked shut.
There was one wooden sign that was brightly painted and tried to make this seem a little less depressing, but it didn’t work. I’d done some reading online and the main thing that I heard about this cemetery was that it was haunted (of course) and that the burials were numerous and extended to the Winn-Dixie parking lot nearby, causing the store to also be harassed by restless spirits. (Give me a break. ) This cemetery was also said to be predominantly African-American and quite old, which interested me. Of course it’s possible that there were more burials than markers, but I have little patience with some of the things I read online when they try to throw in the supernatural slant. Find-A-Grave lists only 115 burials for this rather large chunk of land, so it”s kind of odd, but I doubt the Winn-Dixie is cursed if it’s still there (I didn’t notice it).
This cemetery bites back, so if you do decide to visit be warned that you’ll need a good pair of closed toe shoes. I was in sandals and had to stop twice to pick multiple sand burrs off of my toes and once off of the arch of my foot. I had to walk a fair distance between headstones because the cemetery was so spread out, and the frequent stops and constant staring at my feet as I walked made me want to leave pretty darn fast. Also, two teenagers saw me enter the cemetery and decided to go in behind me to walk around, so I felt obvious looking at headstones, taking pictures, and cursing the burrs. I had the feeling though that they had never noticed the cemetery was even there, and they were respectfully carrying their skateboards and reading the names on the headstones slowly and looking at everything. When I left they were still there, making their way through the property.
There were a few handmade stones but many of them were illegible, which is a pity. I would have liked to walk around more but it was blazing hot and there was no shade at all, plus after five minutes of walking in sand and weeds I was filthy. I did love the stone for Mason, however, which looked like it had been made by pressing a nail into wet cement to form the letters, and all of the N’s were backward. A heartwarming home-made tribute.
I’d like to visit again sometime to see the older stones a little better, but I decided to leave and visit the Maitland Cemetery that was close by and reported to be small, both in land size and in the number of burials, which they list as 334 known burials on Find-A-Grave.
Maitland Cemetery is very small indeed and is beautifully designed to look more like a well established and cared-for park. It is located on on Lake Lucien, and there was a strong breeze the whole time I was there, plus it was mostly shady. I was surprised to see a new burial , raw and obvious in the park-like setting, but the flowered wreaths had died and no one had visited to throw them away. I saw the same thing at Windridge. This cemetery has beautiful old stones and several modern ones, and the cemetery is much older than I had expected, supposedly established in 1892 though some of the burials are before that date. There were two stones that I really liked, one with clasped hands that were perfectly sculpted, and one with a harp motif that I had never seen before. In the corner there was a tiny vault for two people that looked brand new and appeared to be empty since there were no names on it.
At the front of the cemetery were a few very old stones that had been handmade and were really beautiful. I missed them driving in, but when I was walking I noticed them; only one of them could be read. It belongs to Rosa Belle Bouldin, who lived here and was married to a man named Ed who was a crate maker. (Maybe oranges?) I wished I could read the other stone to see if it was her husband, but even a look on Find-A-Grave didn’t help. According to the Florida Genealogical Society there are 11 Civil War veterans interred here.
These two cemeteries could not be more different, but they are both worth a visit for any tapophile. Of the two, Maitland was my favorite, even though while I was there I grazed a stinging nettle. My feet were throbbing after visiting both of these places.
On the way home I got an ice cream cone to take my mind off the nettles and burrs, and then put my feet into cold water when I got to the house.
I need to take my own advice and wear boots or stay on the path.