It’s almost time for the annual “GHOSTS OF MIAMI CITY CEMETERY NIGHT WALK” with local historian Dr. Paul George and HistoryMiami.org. My daughter and I have enjoyed this family-friendly event several times, and it is a great way to connect the place names we use every day to the people who carved Miami out of the sub-tropical jungle.
City of Miami Cemetery was created in 1897, just 1 year after City of Miami was incorporated, when William and Mary Brickell sold the land to the new city. Located at 1800 NE 2nd AV, it was actually about a half mile outside the city limits at the time. Covering 10 acres, it was segregated into eight sections, including white. black, Jewish and Catholic. There is also space dedicated to those who served in the American Legion and the Spanish American War, plus two additional military sections running along the north and south fence lines.
The first known burial was an elderly black man on July 14, 1897 while the first recorded burial is of H. Graham Branscomb, a 24-year-old Englishman on July 20, 1897. City of Miami cemetery is also the final resting place for many of Miami’s earliest pioneers, including the “Mother of Miami”, Julia Tuttle, who was buried there in 1898. Julia’s ghost appears every October during Dr. George’s tour to entertain visitors with stories about her beloved city.
Other famous residents of the cemetery include William M. Burdine (founder of Burdine’s Department Store), John Sewell (third Mayor of Miami) , Charles and Isabella Peacock (proprietors of the first hotel in what is now Peacock Park in Coconut Grove) and Dr. James Jackson ( first resident physician of Miami and namesake for Jackson Memorial Hospital). Miami’s first black lawyer, Richard E. S. Toomey, is in the western section.
And while Bonaventure in Savannah may have the Bird Girl, City of Miami Cemetery has “The body of Carrie Barrett Miller [who] was moulded in this solid block of concrete — December 4, 1926. After the body has gone to dust, her sleeping form will remain.” William Miller placed his wife’s body into the burial chamber – still in her death bed – then poured concrete over her.
City of Miami Cemetery is unusual because the owners of the plot actually hold a deed to the land where the plot is located. There are approximately 1,000 open plots remaining, but to be buried there the deceased must be either the deed holder or directly related the owner. During our recent tour, Dr. Paul George told us the touching story of a family that deeded their plot to him for his parents.
A unique feature is its five oolitic limestone gravestones, the only known examples in the world. City of Miami Cemetery was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on January 4, 1989.
The ghost walk is scheduled for October 25, 8:00pm – 10:00pm, and reservations are required. For more information, visit HistoryMiami and have a hauntingly good time.
Don’t forget to give my regards to Julia!
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Hi Melanie, Is the ghost walk available this October 2017
I can’t seem to get to the website