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American Lives

St Augustine Huguenot Cemetery (Florida)

by Peter Kessler & Veronica Yanes-Nadal, 31 July 2021

 

St Augustine Huguenot Cemetery, Florida
Photo is free from copyright

The Huguenot cemetery was established in St Augustine, Florida, in 1821. As part of previously-Spanish East Florida, the region had only been gained by the US that very year after changing hands between Spain and Britain.

Located just outside St Augustine's north gate, the cemetery was needed for the interment of victims of the 1821 yellow fever epidemic. After that it also found use for the burial of members of the city's Protestant population (this photo dates from 1904).

St Augustine Huguenot Cemetery, Florida
Photos © Naty K / Yelp (left) & Veronica Yanes-Nadal (right)

The cemetery property was acquired by the Reverend Thomas Alexander and then sold to the Presbyterian church in 1832. The church building to this day stands opposite the cemetery. By the late nineteenth century the over-crowding of graves, and the resulting concerns about sanitation and public health, required small public and religious burying grounds in St Augustine to be closed in 1884.

St Augustine Huguenot Cemetery, Florida
Photos © Veronica Yanes-Nadal

New cemeteries, such as those of San Lorenzo and Evergreen, were subsequently opened to parishioners and the public. The Huguenot cemetery remains significant though, because it was the first cemetery in St Augustine which was dedicated to the use of Anglo-American civilians.

St Augustine Huguenot Cemetery, Florida
Photos © Veronica Yanes-Nadal

The burial traditions and funerary materials which are expressed in the cemetery, when compared to those of the nearby Catholic Tolomato Cemetery, demonstrate both the differences and common areas in funerary practices and religious attitudes for two distinct groups in nineteenth century St Augustine.

The grave markers at the Huguenot cemetery display a range of funerary art which was popular at the time, including false box tombs with inscribed ledgers and finely-carved headstones by highly-skilled stone carvers.

One photo on this page published by the Library of Congress with no known restrictions on publication, and one originally published by Yelp user, Naty K.

Main Sources

Memorial Presbyterian Church, St Augustine, Florida

Other Sources

Huguenot Cemetery, Yelp

 

Images and text copyright © Veronica Yanel-Nadal & P L Kessler except where stated. An original feature for the History Files: American Lives.