You may have driven by Sanford’s Evergreen Cemetery multiple times without much thought. But have you ever stopped by and explored? There are so many interesting things to be found!
Turn off 46A and you’ll find a peaceful property shaded by large oak trees. On the right is the newer section of the cemetery where more recent burials have taken place. Take the road to the left and you’ll find older headstones, many turned topsy-turvy over time with the sinking of the ground or occasional invasion of tree roots.
Keep wandering and you’ll find you’re actually in what is called Lakeview Cemetery which dates back to 1884. This section offers a plethora of older gravesites framed so beautifully against the low-hanging Spanish moss.
And if you’re not paying particular attention, you might miss the plot of the only non-human buried in Lakeview. Old Bob, the horse that pulled the hearse for T. J. Miller’s Funeral Home for 28-years, was also laid to rest here in 1914.
The tombstones here are both eerie and beautiful and you quickly forget that there’s a busy highway not far away.
Toward the back of the cemetery, on the east side and close to the fence, lies a number of particularly sad graves. This is “Babyland.” The dates on the tombstones are heartbreaking.
As you continue past Lakeview Cemetery and down the dirt road you’ll see a sign for Page Jackson Cemetery. What you’ll quickly notice are two separate sections to Page Jackson. The first nine acres are generally well-maintained. But the back six acres are overgrown, unattended and mostly forgotten about.
Notably, Page Jackson Cemetery is Sanford’s first black cemetery.
So why is a certain section of Page Jackson maintained while the other is not?
Apparently the nine-acre front portion is within the city limits of Sanford and the city began maintaining that piece in 1998. Unfortunately, the other six acres lay within unincorporated Seminole County. Plots within Page Jackson were previously managed or owned by local churches, fraternal organizations, etc. However, after many years these organizations ceased to exist and the graves have been taken over by brush and fallen trees.
As you continue down the dirt path, you’ll barely notice the grave markers along the way. So many forgotten are buried here and it’s very possible that some of Goldsboro and Sanford’s early and prominent black citizens lie underneath this overgrown land.
Astonishingly the dirt road continues back even further. Wind around and you’ll enter a field close to Seminole High School. This is Shiloh Cemetery. The old stone sign at the entrance is faded.
The Shiloh church owns and maintains this cemetery and they also own additional wooded property nearby with older gravestones.
Of course these cemeteries are not without their ghostly rumors. There are reports of a woman walking the grounds and eerie lights at Shiloh. And witnesses claim to have felt cold spots and seen shadowy figures lurking in Page Jackson.
Visiting these cemeteries is quite an experience. There is so much history here and so much that is left uncovered – literally. I’m sure The Tribe will be back as we discover more about Sanford’s history and what might be lying beneath the ground!
For a more complete history on the Page Jackson Cemetery and the efforts to restore it, read this Sanford Herald article from 2008.