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Newport



Newport Cemetery

Cemetery = Newport Cemetery
Vicinity = Newport
Status = not located
Community = white, both?
Synonymous name(s) = Denham Cemetery
GPS Location
S-T-R Location
Directions
not located - see report
not located - see report
not located - see report

Historian Elizabeth Smith, in an article "A Hankering for Hunting Heads" in The Magnolia Monthly for July 1964, gave a "tour" of graveyards of Wakulla County. There she told of "the Denham Cemetery on the St. Marks River between Newport and St. Marks," saying it was likely one of the oldest graveyards in the County. She said, "In here is buried at least one soldier killed at the Battle of Natural Bridge," and concluded, "but the cemetery is all but impossible to find, and a particular grave even more so."

Again one-and-one-half year later, in MM December 1965, Mrs. Smith wrote:

The Newport Cemetery has nearly disappeared because of extensive logging in the area. It existed only in Newport's heyday prior to the Civil War. Now a road runs through the middle of it and people are unaware of its existence. The only tombstones to be found there are those of David Combs, 1795-1852, and Charles Combs, 1823-?. Neither of the Combses names can be found in the 1850 or 1860 Wakulla County census.

Esther Ladd Woodward (b.ca. 1933) of Woodville, who lived the early part of her life at Newport, says that she was familiar with a graveyard she knew as the Denham Cemetery (and knew only by that name) that lies a little north of Moriah Creek along the old Newport-St. Marks road, and that she and her husband again found the site, "destroyed" but with many pieces of gravestones on the ground, at a more recent time she places perhaps in the 1970?s. She says that the old road went through the graveyard, which was much nearer to Moriah Creek than to the route of US 98, but that the activities of St. Joe Company destroyed the site and changed the locale greatly. St. Joe manager Silas Eubanks accompanied the Woodwards on that search.

Whereas Elizabeth Smith in 1965 wrote "now a road runs through the middle of it," suggesting a drive or roadway established not too long before that, Mrs. Woodward evidently does not particularly relate the place where she and her husband found the pieces of gravestones to any roads or drives existing then. However, Mrs. Woodward has most recently said that a piece of gravestone that she and her husband found was inscribed with the surname Combs. If this is a recollection not influenced by Eliz. Smith's reporting that name, it likely establishes that the graveyard that Mrs. Woodward knew (as Denham Cemetery) is that which Mrs. Smith reported.

Paul Vause (b.1917) reports having attended a funeral at Newport at a cemetery that he recalls as lying a little south of the old Ladd house and large spa pool. He says that the cemetery lay on the left side of the old road going from Newport to St. Marks, and that it was a burying ground for some African-American families living in the vicinity (evidently as well as for white families then or formerly). But he says that clearly the site he recalls is the one that Esther Woodward would recall.

The Magnolia Monthly of January 1964 — before either of the issues mentioned above — in an article "Fred Ladd's Scrapbook of Early Newport," quotes an antique newspaper report from Newport saying that yellow fever "here" in 1853 caused the burials of 180 bodies "in the silent graveyard." Such information would seem evidence of a sizable burying ground at or near Newport. (MM gives the paper as the Newport Times, a name not matching any publication archived anyplace now, and gives an issue date, August 6, 1887, that is apparently far outside the periods of both the Newport Gazette and the Wakulla Times of Newport. This difficulty with the MM report should not, however, invalidate the information.)

Members of the historical society accompanied Mrs. Woodward on a search for evidence of the cemetery again in April 2002. Although she had indicated a recollection that the location was much closer to Moriah Creek than to the route of US 98, for the search she picked an area only some 4/10 mile south of the highway, at and around an idle St. Joe woodchip mill that was established sometime after her last previous search for the cemetery. The mill is situated near:

30°11.61' north latitude -X- 84°10.94' west longitude

The search in April 2002 found no pieces of tombstones or other artifacts identifiable as graveyard features. Low piles or small fields of old bricks were found at several spots in the broadleaf woods east and northeast of the mill clearing. Formed concrete seemingly old was found in two or three places widely separated. Evidently nothing of the old Newport-St. Marks Road is discernible now; any search effort is deprived of this strong reference. Mrs. Woodward emphasizes that the cemetery she well recalls was a large one with many tombstones, some of them the tombstones of river pilots of Newport. If there were many tombstones, it seems that there may remain a considerable field of broken pieces at or near the surface of the ground.

Elizabeth Smith's writing in 1965 "now a road runs through the middle of it" suggests that, if indeed the gravestones she was reporting then were in the cemetery of Mrs. Woodward's recollection, a drive established not too long before that by St. Joe — possibly the north-south one now running to and past the mill; could lead through the old graveyard. However, much else has also been done to the land since then and since Mrs. Woodward's first search; besides the mill site clearing there have been pine timbering and maybe other work in the open flatwoods that run south from the mill.

The veterans' grave registration of 1940-41 records a Calvary Cemetery and gives locating directions that seem to place that cemetery about 7/10 mile south of Newport on a then already "obscure" road (a section-township-range datum also given but far from this place probably not valid and notwithstanding), a location not necessarily inconsistent with the location recalled by Mrs. Woodward for the Denham Cemetery.

Name Birth Death
Comments
Combs, Charles
1823
 
unmarked 
Combs, David
1795
1852
unmarked 
Date of site report narrative - April 2002

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