Volunteers sought for Almarante Cemetery clean-up day, Oct. 5

Almarante Cemetery

A series of historic grave markers stand beneath a magnolia tree in Almarante Cemetery. Volunteers are needed for the Oct. 4 annual cleanup at the Laurel Hill graveyard.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 11:19 AM.

LAUREL HILL — Almarante Cemetery will get its annual facelift on Saturday and the community is invited to participate. Volunteers will gather at 8 a.m. beneath the city's landmark blue water tower.

The sprawling graveyard was established many decades before Laurel Hill was incorporated, and well before the Civil War. Some of the conflict's veterans lie beneath its old oak and magnolia trees. The oldest inhabitant was born in the 1700s.

Surnames on the markers — including Campbell, Steele, Jones, Rogers, Gaskin, Folman, Fountain, Moore, Garrett, Cadenhead, Locke, Curenton, Reeves and Stokes — were  brought to North Okaloosa County by its earliest settlers, and are shared by many local families today.

However, volunteers don't have to have an ancestor buried there to appreciate the history and sense of community found while tidying up among the stone markers, Almarante Cemetery Commission Chairman Tracy Curenton said.

Tombstones range from elaborate to simple; ornately carved marble memorials or a name and dates drawn in wet cement, in which seashells or flat stones were embedded for decoration.

There are solemn flat slabs that the government provides military members, and rustic stone tree stumps carved for Woodmen of the World members.

Fallen warriors from America’s wars, including both sides of the Civil War, the Mexican-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, are everywhere.

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