Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Veterans Day Ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery

On Veterans Day a small group of Orlando Urban Sketchers went to Evergreen Cemetery in Casselberry. The cemetery dates back to 1890 when 18 acres of land was donated for the establishment of a cemetery for black slaves. At the time blacks and white were not allowed to be buried together. The cemetery was surrounded by forest with oak trees, sand pines, evergreen, camphor and palm trees, along with wild fern growing though out. The first pioneer trustees of the cemetery worked in the fern industry and they went on to build their own grocery store and shotgun homes on the site of the cemetery.

A shotgun home was a narrow house without halls. If a bullet were to be fired through the front door, it would go right out the back door without hitting a wall. These homes were rent free and known as the Barnett and Casselberry quarters. Five churches helped maintain the cemetery. One common cemetery maintenance practice was to cut the sand pines as Christmas trees. The original name of Evergreen Cemetery was forgotten over the years. It came to be known as Altamonte Colored Cemetery and Fern Park Cemetery. In 2007 Alton Williams found the original name in his research it was restored.

Alton Willaims was the Master of Ceremonies for this Veteran's Day Ceremony. People crowded under a tent to stay out of the Florida sun. The Seminole County Sheriff Office Honor Guard performed a pre ceremony drill followed by a trumpet player performing taps in the distance. The sad notes resonated through the cemetery. Behind Alton was the framework for a shotgun house being built as a museum on the cemetery grounds. Volunteers are desperately needed to help finish the construction.

Cora Sneed called the names of all the fallen soldiers who were buried in Greenwood Cemetery. One woman in the audience seemed to know many of the family names being called and she picked up the certificates to be given to each family. Entire families went up to honor their relatives who had given their lives for our freedom. After the ceremony we all were given Bubbalou's BBQ.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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