Yalaha is just a ramshackle little place in central Florida. Sneeze and you might miss the town. I drive through what appears to be the heart of the town at least once a week and for some time the little green street sign informing the passerby that up the hill is Yalaha Cemetery has always intrigued me. I finally decided to investigate when I had a little extra time and I found a fairly depressing cemetery. It was not more melancholy than other cemeteries I have visited. Nor was it greatly unkempt, although the layout is quite haphazard. Its distinction is the fact that so many of the headstones have no dates. Many have no real names. It feels as though there was no compelling need for those that lie here to be known. But this is not true as I came to find that many people had gone to great lengths to keep graves marked here that originally had wooden markers and such. Many of the simple granite stones I found were placed in 1996. Unfortunately, many graves were unable to be marked because locations were lost over time.
The oldest marker I found was one belonging to an infant buried in 1868. It was the Laws Baby. A little girl who did not live more than two months. A little lamb is at the top of her headstone. Many infants are buried here with very simple markers like this:
Children were not the only ones with these types of markers. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have the same type of memorials. Imagine having the last name Smith as the only identifier.
The Cottrell family had a sizable plot here, so I imagine they were a heritage type family for the town. There is a little sign near Carrie Sims Duncan Cottrell’s headstone (it is cut out of the picture) that identifies her as a Daughter of 1812. This means that she is a descendant of a patriot of the War of 1812. The National Society United States Daughters of 1812 formed in 1892.
There are military members memorialized here as well. Captain Melton Haynes, who is identified as someone who fought on the confederate side of the Civil War; J.W. Fisher whom I believe if I interpret his headstone correctly, served in the 2nd Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry; and William Henry Snow who served in the 147th New York Volunteer Infantry. The 2nd Massachusetts regiment fought in Cuba during the Spanish American War and the 147th New York served the Union during the Civil War. I’ve included links for further information, which I found fascinating.
My favorite grave marker is the most prominent one in the cemetery leading me to believe that the Drake family were significant members of the community. This actually is the second monument. The first and original is at the bottom of Lake Harris where it fell off a barge in transport. The main feature is an obelisk that is draped. It’s more common to see urns draped, but any kind of draping on a tombstone represents mourning. The design here is from the Victorian Era when obelisks became quite common. The obelisk is Egyptian in nature and generally symbolizes rebirth.
Other markers of interest include a bench adorned with swans – there was a matching one across from it about fifteen feet away – a marker informing everyone that Patrick Pike is now at his favorite fishing spot and two graves that were covered by brick and concrete curved slabs.
The Whitt family plot was another one of the larger plots and it was off to the far right, almost as though set away from the rest of the cemetery and nearly all headstones indicated membership in Masonic organizations.
I would like to point out here that there is another cemetery across from this one maintained by St. Matthews Church of God by Faith that is gated and chained shut, so I was unable to explore. Here is a basic shot of the heart of the cemetery. Most of the memorials are covered by slabs of concrete or marble.