SW¼ Sec 18, 3S, 2E
150 yd E of Old Plank Rd.
One wrought-iron fence nearly intact at a site 1 1/3 mile north of Newport contains the gravestone inscribed, and still legible, to Weld Hamlin (1805-1829), long reported to be the first person buried in Wakulla County commemorated by any extant gravestone. The remainder of another wrought-iron-fence enclosure is just south. The apparent extent of this long-abandoned graveyard for the Magnolia settlement may be no more than about 60 feet north-south by 30 feet transverse.
The cemetery lies about 150 yards east of Old Plank Road under a treecover of longleaf pine and young hickories in a small plot preserved amidst pine plantations. It is indicated on the county highway map and the USGS topographic map. The site was recorded in the 1940-41 veterans' graves registration, where it was designated Plat 70 for Wakulla County; the graves of two veterans of the Confederate Army in the Civil War were recorded here. This graveyard was described at some length in the local magazine Magnolia Monthly in October 1963, and its historic significance was covered further in a series of articles March-thru-December 1967 on the Hamlins and Ladds of Magnolia. The 1963 article says that the headstone inscriptions legible at that time showed burials from Weld Hamlin's in 1829 to 1869. MM in November 1966 headlined a brief statement about the Weld Hamlin grave "The Oldest Tombstone in Wakulla County," and said that Magnolia Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in the county.
A Tallahassee Democrat article in 1995 said this cemetery is one where "blacks and whites were buried together at the time," the slaves buried "just outside" the wrought-iron "barricade." It said a wooden post marking a slave's grave still stood, obscured by palmettos. Marie Ladd of Newport also says that graves of African Americans she supposes to have been slaves are adjacent to, or a part of, this cemetery. She says that 13 of them were identifiable, by her count in 1961, by bricks that must have once lined or overlain them. She says that they lie to the right of the wrought iron fence or fences when one faces the St. Marks River — thus lie on the south side. However, neither Mrs. Ladd nor the newspaper article offers documentation of the reported African American graves.
The MM article of 1963 makes no mention of graves of African-Americans here. The veterans' graves registration recorded another cemetery that it designated Magnolia "Colored Cemetery" quite nearby. Though it is now evidently obliterated and no longer identifiable, persons still living report having known and seen it at a distance from this old cemetery of the tombstones and wrought iron.
Date of site report narrative - October 2001
Surveyed by members of the WCHS, September 2005
Some information from A Book Of Halls by Marilee Gerrell Butler, from the Magnolia Monthly by Elizabeth Smith and from the Register of Deceased Veterans 1940-41
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