This cemetery is worth a visit when you’re done antiquing in Renninger’s and are ready to walk around outside. For one thing- it’s beautiful, even though I’m not a huge fan of pine trees in cemeteries. I usually prefer the sprawling oaks instead. But this place is peaceful and well designed, and it’s a good cemetery to walk in. (No burrs. No anthills the size of Cadillacs. No slithering wildlife.)
I visited about a year ago before I started the blog and noticed a stone on the right hand side that seemed to be turned in an odd direction. I walked over to take a look, and saw a headstone that really broke my heart. It seems like there are some where you can actually feel the horror of the event that took place, and this was one of them.
The young Warburton family was from England, and they were traveling by wagon when the horse went to the pond to drink. Some reports say that Fiddler’s Pond was actually a sinkhole- the pond is still in Mt. Dora though I’ve never seen it. The horse fell in and took the family with them, and all of them drowned.
This stone says everything.
This is a more modern cemetery, though there is an old section by the Warburton stone. However, my favorite cemetery in the area is the Mt. Carmel-Simpson Cemetery, not in Mt. Dora, but it’s on the way if you’re coming from the Zellwood area. This is one of the first African-American cemeteries I’d ever seen that was saved from abandonment, and it is really incredible to visit. For one thing, it’s in the parking lot of the St. Patrick Church off of highway 441. You pull into the parking lot, think you’re in the wrong place, and then you look out the car window and see the graves in the woods. About 60 of them.
This was a well organized clean-up back in 2010, where graves were mapped and numbered stones erected for the unmarked graves. There wasn’t much of a path, but most of the underbrush had been cleared so it was comfortable walking and you could see all of the stones easily. This was one of my first experiences seeing a vernacular headstone, there are several there that are beautifully handmade and I couldn’t get over it. They’re my favorite, they say so much more than the modern stones. The cemetery has a lot of fern and ivy and it is pleasantly sheltered by huge trees. You feel like you’re literally in the middle of the woods after just a few steps in.
That day also changed the way I plan for my weekend outings. I now keep a ‘cemetery bag’ in my car for any little thing that might be needed, because that day when I left I had 37 mosquito bites all over me (we counted). I spent the drive home scratching my legs into giant welts and feeling frantic, thinking about encephalitis and whether or not dengue fever had ever made it’s way to Florida. My cemetery bag was handmade by my friend Vicki, and it contains deep-woods OFF, calamine lotion, antihistamine spray, band-aids, spray sunscreen, and a flashlight. I’ve needed all of those items during the last year during all of my cemetery visits.
I’m ready for anything except for a stone falling on top of me.