Creeping around cemeteries isn't for everyone. But those of you who don't mind treading lightly among those taking eternal dirt naps might fancy a visit to Miami's oldest burial ground for Pioneer Day at Pinewood Cemetery in Coral Gables this Saturday.
It's easy enough to miss Pinewood Cemetery (also known by some as Cocoplum Cemetery) as it's nestled among ritzy homes in a lavish Gables neighborhood. But if you can find it you're in for a treat, that is if you dig exploring the final resting ground of at least 200 early settlers. The event celebrates the long gone pioneering spirit of those who settled in South Florida before there were cars, phones, and indoor plumbing. There will be a tour of the cemetery starting at 10 a.m. It's free an open to the public.
Strolling around the cemetery alone is as spooky as you'd expect, even
more so than at more "current" cemeteries. But we don't recommend doing
any digging. Most of those buried at Pinewood don't have gravestones -- there are only 25 markers leaving at least 175 buried without identification. In fact,
the original burial ground might be larger than the four-acres now assigned to the cemetery as residents of nearby homes have on occasion dug up human remains.
That might explain why there's long been talk of hauntings and other paranormal activity at the cemetery. It has been visited by the likes of the League of Paranormal Investigators, who wrote a report on the cemetery in 2008.
Many of those buried at Pinewood met their demise in war, just not wars
that you hear about too much these days. There are tombstones honoring veterans of the
Seminole Indian War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, as well as World
Word I. There are also victims of hurricanes but not Andrew, the 1926
hurricane. Historians believe the cemetery has remains from individuals
who died as early as 1855. For those who flunked American History,
that's before the start of the Civil War when slavery was still legal.
Typically, the City of Coral Gables sets up a tent with
refreshments and seating to celebrate Pioneer Day. This year, author
Harriet Stiger Liles who wrote a book entitled (what else) Pinewood
Cemetery, Coral Gables, Florida, a History with Pioneer Biographies, is
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the keynote speaker.
Pioneer Day at Pinewood Cemetery, on Erwin Road just south of Sunset Drive, starts at 10 a.m. It's free and open to the public.