QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2006-10 > 1160256978
Subject: [Q-R] Daddy, is Great Grandpa really buried at third base??????????
Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2006 17:36:18 EDT
Plaque to honor the buried under South Daytona ball fields SOUTH DAYTONA --
There's a spooky time of night, when most people don't like being outside
It's around 2 a.m., when it's pitch dark and a layer of onerous fog hangs in
P.J. Warner has been outside at that hour many times, lining the diamond of
the ball fields at James Street Park in South Daytona to get it ready for his
team's baseball game the next day.
The creepy conditions never freaked out the coach. After all, he was at a
ballpark, the home of the All-American sport.
But his composure changed when he heard that underneath the park lay the
remains of black settlers buried there in the late 1800s when the land was a
cemetery called Pine Ridge.
The city of South Daytona built over the cemetery in the late 1960s after it
lay abandoned and neglected for decades.
"That's kind of scary," said Warner, an area real estate agent and coach of
9- and 10-year-olds on the team called the Waves, which practices on the James
Street fields twice a week. "That stuns me."
Few locals remember Pine Ridge Cemetery, which staged its last burial around
1899. Even longtime black residents like Sam Rogers say they've never heard
of it. However, he's not surprised by its ultimate fate.
"This happens everywhere," Rogers said.
Worried that the residents resting underneath James Street Park would be
forgotten, area historians Harold Cardwell and Kay Stanton asked South Daytona
officials to honor them with a monument -- and the city agreed.
"It's one of those things that should be recognized," said Greg Bartholomew,
parks and recreation director.
A plaque should go up in the next few months, perhaps at the entrance of the
park, he said.
Building on top of a cemetery is "unacceptable" and should be regulated, said
Dusty Smith, founder and president of the International Association of
Cemetery Preservationists, a group of locals who clean up abandoned cemeteries.
"What if that was your grandparents or parents?" Smith said. "These people
may have taught your kids or built your home. You may not have known them, but
they were people who built this town."
It's unclear whether state laws would have prohibited the city from building
on top of a cemetery in the 1960s, but it wouldn't be allowed today, said Tim
Wheaton, an analyst for the state's Division of Funeral, Cemetery and
"No one is supposed to disturb graves without proper authority, and if they
do have permission, they shouldn't build there," Wheaton said.
Even though today's tighter laws don't allow construction over graves, the
state does not regulate cemeteries owned by governments, which often end up
taking over abandoned cemeteries and their care, he said. State officials step
in if a complaint is filed with local law enforcement or the State Attorney's
It's not unusual for a cemetery to get lost over time, said Bill Morgan, a
volunteer county coordinator for USGenWeb, a private genealogy Internet site
where he has posted information about many old cemeteries in the county.
Relatives move away and lose track of their ancestors' resting places.
Cemetery lands get sold, and new property owners stop caring for them. In some
cases, Morgan has seen headstones used for footstones around properties and for
the foundations of homes.
Historic black cemeteries often meet a more unfortunate fate, Morgan said.
Because black families in the early days couldn't afford headstones, many used
wooden crosses and pine boxes, which rot easily and leave no physical sign of
the graveyards' existence.
That's what happened to the graves of black settlers of Freemanville in Port
Historians believe settlers who moved from South Carolina to work at a
sawmill that never materialized and later made a living farming were buried
somewhere within the tiny settlement off U.S. 1, but they aren't sure exactly
where. Alberta McCloud, 81, who has lived in the area for decades, and other
residents think they know where it is -- in a heavily wooded area on the corner of
Ocean and Orange avenues.
Historian Cardwell believes Pine Ridge Cemetery holds the remains of workers
on the railroad, which was built in the 1880s, but few locals know much about
City Manager Joe Yarbrough, who has been on the job for 20 years, said he
first heard about it 10 years ago when a News-Journal reporter was doing a story
about lost cemeteries.
South Daytona records show the city took it over in 1966 when the City
Council declared the graveyard so mistreated and neglected that it had lost its
identity as a burial ground and would be better off as a public park. The stones
and monuments there had been destroyed and the graves had worn away, records
Putting a monument at James Street Park would be a nice gesture, baseball
Coach Warner said, but it could upset some parents and kids.
It didn't sit well with Waves player Kyle Marsh, 10.
"We're playing on dead people?" he asked with a crossed brow.
But Warner doesn't believe the fields are haunted. Over the years, his league
has had nothing but luck, winning many major tournaments and even state
"Maybe they're looking over us," Warner said.