A tour of some historic grave markers in Titusville, Florida's
We believe that history can be studied in many ways and in learning about the early pioneers that were buried at Oaklawn will help everyone understand the importance of this cemetery in our community. When Oaklawn first became a cemetery it was called TITUSVILLE MEMORIAL GARDENS and stood on the outskirts of town on a one lane dirt road which became known as Garden Street because of the Memorial Gardens west of town. The dirt road ended about the current site of Segos and people had to maneuver around a large swamp to about where Dixie Crossroads is today to reach a dry path to the cemetery. It was drained in the 1920s and Garden was widened paved and extended in the 1960s when 1-95 was completed.
Oaklawn Memorial Gardens
Narration & Photos by Regina Burdo
Oaklawn was originally a farm owned by John (Uncle Johnny) Feaster. Uncle Johnny was a real pioneer and was amazed at the wilderness and game in the area. In the mid-1860s, Uncle Johnny bought this area in hopes of raising oranges he also loved the fact that he could stand out his door and shoot wild turkey and other game. No one would go hungry.
A few years later his niece, Mrs. Coleman's, entire plantation was destroyed during Sherman's March to the Sea andshe, her brothers and her 2 sons came to join Uncle Johnny. Can you imagine her surprise when she saw this area? No house, a rough campground and so much wilderness that the men had to take turns at night to make sure the campsite was safe from bear, bob cat and of course, alligators. At that time Uncle Johnny and his son in law Adgor McCrory decided to build a small homestead in the area where the U haul is today.
When Mr. McCrorey passed away, at 64 years old. He was the first person to be buried here at what is now Oaklawn. Here is the original obituary.
Mr A.C. McCrory died at this place Monday the 23rd ult. As he was one of the oldest settlers we will miss his kind greeting and pleasant smile very much. Especially the little ones will miss him as he never passed any of them without a cheerful remark. The relatives have our deepest sympathy in their sad bereavement. The remarks of Rev. Foy at the grave must certainly have carried comfort and hope to all who have laid to rest loved ones.
JOHN M. FEASTER
Two years later, Mr. Feaster passed away. He was 75 years old. Quite a ripe old age back then. He was the 2nd burial here as far as we can tell.
Records were not kept at the time so there are unmarked graves here in this oldest section.
Here is Mr. Feasters original Obituary
Last Thursday recorded the death of one of the oldest residents on Indian River- John M. Feaster familiarly known as Uncle Johnie by the old timers. He had been gradually failing for some time and reached the ripe of age past four score. The burial service was conducted by Rev. Bird last Friday and interment at Titusville cemetery. A prepared memoir notice will be furnished to the STAR next week. (Florida Star on Nov. 5, 1891)
Upon Mr. Feaster's death, the family decided to turn over the family farm for the creation of a new public cemetery. This cemetery has changed hands many times over the years. At first it was privately owned and then managed by a publicly held group known as the Pythian Sisters. They in turn sold the cemetery to E.W. Kloss in 1962.
Kloss renamed the park Oaklawn and sold it to Jimmy Prevatt and Lamar Hudgins of the North Brevard Funeral Home. (both still work there once in a while) They in turn sold it to Pierce Cemeteries who sold it to SCI. In 1996 SCI sold Oaklawn to its current owners Carriage Services who now own both North Brevard Funeral Home and the cemetery.
Right after the Feasters opened this a pubic cemetery, it so happens the First Methodist Church of Titusville was in the process of moving their church from Orange St to Main and did not have space for the graveyard. Some of the people where moved from there to here in 1891, Mary Parkinson and a woman we know only as Ellen. Consort of a man named Henry Hagy. Also Mr. Williams an infantry man. No birth or death date recorded.
The Webbs were vaudevillians on the Broadway circuit in 1915. They began their career as dramatic actors then became a comedy team called Maggie and Jiggs.
They worked in a variety of vaudeville shows, appearing on stage in productions with such notables as George Burns and George Jessel.
Their career included a number of silent movies for Hal Roach Studios before retiring, they were also represented by Ted Healety the creator of the 3 Stooges.
After appearing in Palm Beach they were returning to New York and stopped overnight in Titusville, fell in love with the area and retired here in the late 1930s.
They could often be seen in town shopping, as most native New Yorkers of that era they did not drive so they walked everywhere.
Maggie was a petite, full figured gal with bright red hair. She always had a huge shopping bag with her. Jiggs was tall and thin He loved cigars and was seldom seen without one.
Other deceased Titusville residents who have appeared on film are Louise Curtiss, a silent film star and Brad Davis star of Midnight Express.
Her parents came to Titusville shortly after the Feasters. Mrs. Coleman had written to them of the wonders of Florida and the newlywed couple made Titusville their first home. Their log home near the River was completed and they had 9 children one of which was Bessie Gruber who was delivered by an Indian squaw.
When Bessie was a young woman she worked for a colorful character named Dr. Mandeville who owned the first car in Titusville, a 1907 Maxwell. Five years later, 7 cars where here in Titusville.
Bessie also worked for Dr. Mandeville at his next venture. The first Silent Movie theater in 1905. But Bessie and Dr. Mandeville were not done yet. He also flourished as the proprietor of the first telephone company serving 16 Titusville residents.
Wagers father Perry moved to Titusville in the 1870s and started the Florida Star Newspaper of New Smyrna Beach. He asked William Norwood to haul the presses here. Norwood was the first mail man in Titusville.
Once the presses where here, the Florida Star became the first published newspaper in Brevard.
Now starts one of the greatest mysteries in the history of our town. One day in 1996 Perry, his son Ellis and a field hand packed a lunch and journeyed together by canoe down the Indian River to the families sugar cane fields were. Perry sent Ellis ahead and said he would join them.
He was never heard from again. Ellis Wager then became the publisher of the Florida Star.
Ellis was a music lover and a virtuoso on the piano and founded the Indian River Music House which presented operas to the people of Brevard.
Later, Ellis merged the Florida Star with the Advocate newspaper, to form what is now know as Florida Star-Advocate.
Ellis was also the first automobile dealer in Brevard. He sold Fords and Studebakers out of the old Music house location.
DR. E.S. WILEY
Dr Wiley attended school with Dr. Wilson, Titusville's first doctor. At Wilsons insistence, Dr Wiley became Titusville's 2nd doctor.
At the age of 26 in 1862, Dr Wiley volunteered and was a Lt. in the Florida 5th regiment. His enlistment papers read that he was in the army for 3 years or until the war ended. He was a surgeon for the confederate army for 3 years.
The doctors office was on what is now Julia Street.
He was a kind doctor and his patients loved him. He helped to research cures for smallpox, yellow fever and malaria.
Doctor was only 5'2" and always hired a carriage and a driver because he was unable to ride a horse due to war injuries and unable to drive a carriage due to his stature.
He died in 1892 and the entire city turned out for his funeral. His wife out lived him and passed away in 1912 at Bellevue Sanitarium, at Valdosta, Ga and her body was brought all the way down to Titusville so she could be laid to rest by her husband. Bellevue Sanitarium was an elite hospital for TB patients and people suffering from other lung problems.
ALEXANDER A. STEWART
Brevard's 1st First Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Taken from Obit: Funeral services were held last Sunday under Masonic auspices. The long cortege of a hundred cars, filled with relatives and brothers with another line of brothers on foot, marched from the residence to St Gabriel Episcopal church , and then to beautiful Titusville cemetery where the departed brother was laid to rest in accordance to the rites of the great order in which he had long been an honored member.
He had served as county clerk here in Brevard county from 1872 until 1912. A very loyal county clerk serving 40 years.
GEORGE ROBBINS, Circuit Judge
Original Obituary: Attorney Geo. M. Robbins, No More
When the news reached the ears of the people of Titusville, on Tuesday afternoon, that Attorney Geo. M. Robbins, had passed to the great beyond, there was a deep sadness manifested, as Mr. Robbins was a man looked up to and highly appreciated in the town in which he lived, and his death has caused a vacancy in the affairs of the city and county, also the State, that will long be felt, and probably never again filled by so able a man.
Many trips to resorts, treatment by best specialists and physicians in New York and in his home State, have been tried during his decline, and all that could be thought of, or suggested, in the medical science that might bring a complete restoration to health, to him, has been looked after by his loved ones, but there was no earthly physician able to cope with the complications of disease in his case, and the Great Physician came at last to relieve him of all suffering with that eternal rest.
All the business houses in the city and the Titusville High School closed at noon, and work on the Brevard County Court house was hushed during the funeral services, as a mark of respect to the deceased.
I added Mr. Reynolds to the tour because of his sad demise, his interesting Obituary and he was a lawyer for the Robbins law firm.
Death of Mr. Reynolds
Mr. J. Tome Reynolds, who was formerly in the employ Robbins & Graham, lawyers, of this place, died at his law residence on Washington avenue, Sunday afternoon last, at 5:30 o'clock, much to the regret of his many friends along the East Coast.
The funeral service was held on Monday afternoon when the Rev. John A. Hughes, officiated. The coffin was beautifully with roses and other flowers and evergreens in token of respect for the deceased; and quite a number of our townspeople attended the service.
The internment took place in the Titusville Cemetery the same afternoon, a great many of the deceased's friends following the cortege to the grave.
The pall-bearers were: Rev. A. D. Penny, Fred S. Chaffee, J. M. Dixon, W. M. Woodward, E. A. Losley and Jas, Harper.
Deceased had been employed in Jacksonville during the past two years or so, and last January he had an attack of la grippe. This brought on consumption, and about three weeks ago he returned home; but there appeared to be no hope for him and he succumbed to heart failure on the above day.
He was born at Port Deposit, Md. and was well connected in Baltimore. His age was 36. Deceased leaves a wife and little daughter to morn his loss.
Published in the East Coast Advocate on Friday August 19, 1898.
There is so much history associated with the good Captain we could talk about him all day and never cover all of it.
After serving as a Captain in the civil war James came to Titusville and began to buy up property in Titusville.
The town had no bank so Mr. Pritchard founded the first bank on the corner of Washington and Main St. But, Capt. Pritchard was not done with building our town.
In 1886 after a trip to St. Augustine he decided that to help Titusville grow into a striving metropolis, he decided we needed electric and started Titusville Utility company. He paid out of pocket to have street lights installed what is now Rt 1.
The power was on each day from 4-midnight and the bills ran about 1.00 a month. In 1912 he tried to sell the utility company to the city for $30,000 but taxpayers turned it down.
His home still stands and tours are given. The last Prichard buried here was Mary Pritchard Shuster his granddaughter, she was a founder of the North Brevard Historic Museum and was active till the end. She was 100 years old.
ONE FINAL GIFT
Scatter me not to the restless winds
Nor toss my ashes to the sea,
Remember now those years gone by
When loving gifts I gave to thee.
Remember now the happy times
The family ties are shared.
Don't leave my resting place unmarked
As though you never cared.
Deny me not one final gift
For all who came to see.
A simple lasting proof that says
I loved and you loved me.