Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gray and Crumbling Evidence of the Departed

Tampa has a number of cemeteries, most of them the contemporary, recently-buried kind. They are vast stretches of finely manicured lawns, tall trees and shrubbery where families visit gorgeous headstones and mausoleums and place fresh flowers. One cemetery, in Tampa's downtown, is much quieter, a bit worn and moss-covered. It is not often visited. It's also filled with stories and evidence of Tampa's history. With only monochromatic, black and white images in mind, I've begun to explore Tampa's oldest burying ground. To my followers in many other countries, a cemetery first used in the 1840-50s would seem rather new. Compared to your cemeteries which date back many centuries, Oaklawn isn't old at all. But remember, Tampa wasn't a city at all, and barely a town when Oaklawn was set aside for burials. Within its walls bounded by Harrison, Jefferson, Laurel and Morgan Streets are actually two cemeteries: Oaklawn and St. Louis. At one time a fence stood between them but it's no longer there to separate the two. Oaklawn was set aside as a final resting-place for "White and Slave, Rich and Poor." That all said, it is a fascinating place and many members of earliest pioneer families are interred here. Several of our city's mayors and a good number of Confederate veterans of the Civil War are also here. I'll continue to explore with camera in hand, using back and white only, and post some images from time to time. (I doubt I will ever run out of new photos.)


  1. Exploring old cemeteries is one of my favorite pastimes. This looks like a goodie. And the b&w is perfectly suited to a burial ground.

    You do know, I hope, why they put fences around cemeteries? People are just dying to get in!

  2. A very interesting place Frank, I love poking about in old grave yards, this one looks good. Lots of history about long gone people.

  3. You're right, our church cemeteries here in the UK are much older, but not much you can do about that. One problem with the old ones is that it becomes almost impossible to read the inscriptions; that said, they are a great place for a camera. Also, I suspect they are waiting for us!

  4. I'm not sure if you are aware of this or not, but if you go to the link bellow there's a nice little self-guided walking tour of the cemetery.


    Also, at the John F. Germany library downtown on the floor where they keep the Genealogy information, I believe it may be the third floor? There is a really great book on the cemetery in the Tampa, FL reference section towards the bottom of the stacks. The book is impressively large, and I believe it is either a dark brown or black color.