Kanapaha Cemetery
A Brief History and Cemetery Policy

Kanapaha Cemetery, Overview

The Kanapaha Cemetery is among the oldest historical sites in Florida.  Situated along the western edge of Kanapaha Prairie, it holds the resting places of many of Alachua County's earliest pioneer familes. 

Maintenance of the cemetery relies upon volunteers from Kanapaha Presbyterian Church, with gracious and welcome support from the families of those interred here, as well as from volunteers from the non-profit historical preservation group, Historic Haile Homestead. 

The cemetery continues to this day to serve the members of Kanapaha Church and their immediate family, as well as descendants of those who have been buried there.

A survey of names follows:

Daughters of the American  Revolution  Kanapaha Cemetery Survey

A Short History of Kanapaha Cemetery

After the completion of the building in April 1859, the church was formally organized, with 12 members and two elders, viz: Dr. W. H. Stringfellow and Mr. Joseph A Scott, with no deacons.  In November of that year, Kanapaha was united with the Presbytery of Florida at Jacksonville.  The first independently-standing Kanapaha Presbyterian Church was a starkly utilitarian structure roughly following the same dimentions as its subsequent namesake.  It stood at the western edge of that parcel of land presently occupied by the Kanapaha Presbyterian Church Cemetery, located past Kanapaha Botanical Gardens on SW 63rd Blvd in Gainesville. Kanapaha Prairie lies just to the back of the property, and it is said that on the edge of this prairie, a white man named Colson whipped an Indian for stealing a horse (or for having rustled cattle, depending on the folklore): this episode is supposed to have started one of the Seminole wars (22). This parcel was donated to the church by the Moses Ramsey family at the time of the church's inception, although the deed was not transferred officially until 1903.  The original church was dedicated on the first sabbath in May of 1859 on this site.  The church had suffered neglect throughout the civil war years, as many left to serve the confederacy.  The Reverend McCormick himself joined as a chaplain to preach to the warriers in tented fields (24) .  Finally, in 1864, McCormick returned to resume service at Kanapaha. History is sketchy during these years, however, documents indicate a wedding was scheduled at the original church for Nov. 26, 1878.  Sermon transcripts make  a reference to the building's existence as late as 1883.  Finally, journal entries from Serena Haile note the following:  "Fri Nov 7th [1884] Clear & bright morn - Cold - Clouded up around 11 am - Drizzly all day - raw & uncomfortable - George & Bennet went to Churchyard to sweep out church."  Serena's previous references to the "churchyard" had to do with the cemetery. (k) Another entry from Mrs. Haile's journal logs the following: "Sunday Nov 9th [1884] a cloudy raw day - 'Mr Baker' here - Preached at Kanapaha Church - A Good Sermon - every body liked him - a large Congregation.  Meeting for subscription for Minister's salary. Mr Baker staid the night - with us - Preached 4 pm at School house"  (k)

Based on the above accounts, it appears that the original Kanapaha Church remained in use at least until the beginning of 1885.  During 1885, it is important to note that the Archer Presbyterian Church had just been completed, its design serving as the model by which many, including Kanapaha's replacement, would be crafted.  Knowing that the Kanapaha Church had been yearning for a position closer to the railroad, that the condition of the original church following the war was said to be unsafe, that the congregation had begun to meet more frequently at the School house accross the railroad on the North side of the Edward Haile property (30), and that the Archer congregation had just freshly completed their model Presbyterian church, the timeline strongly suggests that the original Kanapaha Church was not lost accidentally in a fire, as rumored, but was very deliberately decommissioned.  As the Kanapaha congregation continued to divide its services between the old church and the school house, elders purchased the site of the new Kanapaha Church, adjacent to the Kanapaha Station, in June of 1886. The new structure was dedicated in October of 1886.  Given that people of this era typically wasted nothing, it is plausible that valuable timbers and other materials would have been salvaged for use in constructing the new church.  The debris remaining at the old site was likely burned away, seeing as this site was to continue as the church cemetery.  This may account for the rumors of the old church having burned.

Kanapaha Presbyterian Church Cemetery Policy


1) Right of Interment.  Interment in the Kanapaha Presbyterian Church Cemetery (“the Cemetery”) shall be restricted to members of Kanapaha Presbyterian Church (“Church”), their spouses, their children, and family members of people already buried there, as well as persons who were active members in the past and have no other church affiliation.

2) Cemetery Management.  Management of the Cemetery is under the direction of the Elder for Buildings and Grounds (“the Elder”), who shall have the authority to approve all burials in accordance with this Policy and is responsible for setting up a schedule for year-round maintenance of the Cemetery.  It is also the Elder’s responsibility to annually, in writing, remind all local funeral homes that all requests for burial in the Cemetery must be directed to the Elder for Buildings and Grounds.

3) Right of Burial Fee.  Persons wishing to be buried in the Cemetery may reserve a plot for themselves or family members in the Cemetery and shall pay a right of burial fee (“Fee”) as follows: $100 if active Church member and $200 if nonactive or family of a member.  If no advance reservation has been made, the Fee is due and payable by the family of the deceased at the time of burial.  There can be no refund of a right of burial fee.

4) Acknowledgment of Fee Paid.  Upon payment of the Fee, the family or member shall receive an acknowledgement from the Finance Committee showing the amount paid, specifying the location and plot size and number assigned.  There shall be no deed issued, and no filing made in the County Public Records office.

5) Transfer of Right of Burial.  Any request for transferring, selling, or assigning rights of burial must be made in writing to the Church Session, giving all information pertaining to the transaction.  Approval for the transaction shall be made in writing by the Session. This procedure is required in order that the Church may at all times have a complete and accurate record of all plots which have been reserved.  The Session may refuse to consent to a transfer or to an assignment if the right of burial fee has not been made.
       
6) Ongoing Commitment.  The right of burial fee does not guarantee perpetual care.  Family members, if able, in accordance with this Policy, are requested to physically maintain the plots of their deceased family member(s) and contribute financially on an annual basis to insure perpetual care in accordance with Item 15. of this Policy.

7) Plot Size.  Single plot size shall be 4 feet by 8 feet.  Two cremation containers may be placed in a single plot.

8) Reserving Family Plots.  A Family Plot shall be defined as more than two contiguous plots.  If a family wishes to reserve a Family Plot of a size and location deemed reasonable by the Buildings and Grounds Committee and all other conditions of this Policy are met, the request may be granted by the Elder.  If granted, the Family Plot will be noted on the grid of the archival survey kept in the Cemetery File, and the family shall place four corner markers of granite at ground level. The family shall also arrange for the placing of at least one permanent headstone marker to establish the family plot within 60 days of approval of the request. Payment of fees for right of burial applies as shown in Item 3. of this Cemetery Policy.

9) Walls or Enclosures.  To provide for ease of maintenance in mowing and navigating the grounds with undertaking equipment, no enclosures or plot walls shall henceforth be erected on the Cemetery grounds, beyond certain ancient, already existing, walled-off family plots.

10) Permanent Markers.  A permanent headstone marker must be placed within 60 days of a burial in the Cemetery.  The purchase and placement of the marker shall be the responsibility of the family.  Any variety of sizes or styles may be used, provided they are of a marble, granite, finished stone, or masonry material.  The marker must bear, at a minimum, the name and dates of the deceased person.  Metal tags are not deemed permanent markers.

11) Central Access Lane.  The existing central access lane which permits access to all points of the Cemetery shall be designated a No-burial Zone.  This lane shall retain a minimum width of 25 feet with its centerline equidistant from the existing Haile and Dupree family plot walls and terminating at the existing Holly family plot.

12) Survey and Planning Grid.  Upon receipt of a property survey of the Cemetery boundary lines, an alpha-numeric grid shall be drawn over an archival survey copy.  This Grid shall be kept in the Cemetery File in the Church office for purposes of: 1) defining spaces to prospective members, 2) preserving accessibility throughout the Cemetery, and 3) maintaining accurate documentation of existing and future gravesites.

13) Landscape and Decorative Items.   With permission from the Elder, minimal and tasteful permanent items, such as benches, may be placed on or near plots and located so as to not impede mowing, maintaining, or navigating the Cemetery.  The Elder retains the right to move or remove articles deemed inappropriate, dangerous, or positioned such that accessibility to the property is compromised.  Woody-stemmed shrubs or trees require the permission of the Buildings and Grounds Committee prior to placement in the Cemetery.  This restriction does not apply to flowers, silk, cut, or planted.

14) Cemetery Account.  A separate bank account shall be created by the Church Treasurer into which all Cemetery Fees and donations or memorials designated Cemetery Maintenance are deposited and all Cemetery maintenance expenses are paid.  The Church Treasurer shall prepare a monthly report to the Session of all income and expenses of the Cemetery.

15) Perpetual Care.  An annual stewardship letter shall be sent by Administration Committee to Church members, to families of persons buried in the Cemetery, and to persons who have paid right of burial fees to request donations for maintenance of the Cemetery.  All funds collected shall be deposited in the Cemetery account.

16) Volunteer Work Days.  In an effort to keep the costs of maintaining the Cemetery grounds to a minimum, two Cemetery Work Days per year shall be scheduled and coordinated by the Elder, and notice shall be sent to Church members, families of all persons buried in the Cemetery, as well as to all persons who have paid a right of burial fee.

17) Unmarked Graves.  Every effort shall be made to locate unmarked graves that may exist.  Any that may be found shall be permanently marked, placed on the grid, and under no circumstances shall any remains be moved.
 
18) Security.  The fence shall be maintained and the main gate kept locked, with the small side gate unlocked for visitors to use.  Keys to the Cemetery gate shall be kept as follows: 1) one with the Buildings and Grounds Elder, 2) one with the regular mowing crew, and 3) one in the Church office.

19) Visiting.  The Cemetery is hallowed ground.  Visitors and families may come for quiet reflection, meditation, or prayer.  Visitors enter the property at their own risk.  Partying, camping, loitering, or dumping is strictly forbidden, and such abuses of the property shall be referred to law enforcement.

20) Right to Amend.  The Session of Kanapaha Presbyterian Church hereby expressly reserves the right, at any time or times, with notice to all who have reserved and paid for plots, to adopt new rules and regulations, or to amend, alter and/or repeal any rule or regulation in this Cemetery Policy.


Every living person feels a certain solicitude about the place of interment for their departed relatives. Therefore, certain grounds are set apart for interment in cemeteries. The heart's impulse is to keep the bodies that were dearest to each of us in life, nearest to us in the grave.




Committee Approval:  4-2005
Revised:  NA
Session approval:  4-16-05
Addenda:  NA
 

View of the new iron gate and board fence which was donated to the Cemetery by the Rancourt family.

Kanapaha Cemetery is located at 4101 SW 63rd Blvd. 
(63rd Blvd is on the North side of Archer Road, approximately one meal East of the Church. The cemetery is at the end of 63rd Blvd.)