|Copyright 2008 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Old St. Joseph Cemetery - Port St. Joe
Off Garrison Avenue in Port St. Joe, Florida can be found all
that remains of the lost city of St. Joseph. The Old St. Joseph
Cemetery preserves the brick tombs and few remaining
tombstones of the residents of the vanished city.
It is impossible to know how many people are buried here.
Unmarked graves are clearly evident from the walking path that
loops through the old cemetery and passes the few surviving
tombs and headstones.
Some of the graves date from the early year's of St. Joseph's
existence. Deaths of people of all ages were common during
the 1830s and the city was established in 1835 in a remote
and frontier setting. The largest number of burials, however,
are believed to date from the year 1841 when a deadly yellow
fever epidemic struck the city.
It is impossible to know exactly how many people died in St.
Joseph during the summer of 1841, but the number was
undoubtedly high. The terrible disease swept the city, then
home to around 6,000 people. Many had come in response to
advertisements billing St. Joseph's "healthy climate" and fresh
sea air. To the residents of the interior counties of Florida, the
beautiful city on the bay offered relief from the sweltering heat
The fever, however, ravaged the community and forever
dispelled the claims of promoters. Newspaper articles of the
time list the deaths of numerous people during the epidemic.
They included leading politicians, businessmen, sailors,
newspaper editors and their families. According to some
claims, so many people died that it was necessary to dig
mass graves in order to dispose of the bodies.
Now a memorial to the dead, the Old St. Joseph Cemetery
includes historical markers interpreting its significance in
Florida history. The cemetery is open to visitors during normal
daylight hours, seven days a week. A visit to the Constitutional
Convention State Museum is recommended as a first stop
before exploring the cemetery, as the exhibits provide an
excellent introduction to the story of St. Joseph and its dead.
Last Trace of Florida's "Lost City"
|Old St. Joseph Cemetery
The historic cemetery in Port St. Joe is all that
remains of St. Joseph, the "lost city" of Northwest
Florida's Gulf coast.
|Memories of a Lost City
The Old St. Joseph Cemetery includes graves and
interpretive markers that tell the story of St. Joseph
and its dead.
|Resting Place of Early Florida Leaders
Among those believed to be buried here are
delegates to Florida's first constitutional
convention and other early leaders.