Friday, April 20, 2018
Opinion

Column: Hernando, it's where we live and die

With all the current talk of expanding tourism in Hernando County, people should consider some of the off-the-beaten path things to do here.

For instance, I've just finished reading an interesting book about where we live. Hernando Epitaphs: Cemeteries and Memorials of Hernando County Florida, published by the Hernando County Historical Museum Association, is a guidepost to the oldest grave sites throughout the county. They are often found next to a family home, close to a family church or even the newest burial places in well-kept cemeteries with perpetual care.

From the lowliest citizen with modest little stones to the mausoleums to memorialize community leaders, all who have lived and died in Hernando County are remembered. Even if you are not looking for the final resting place of a long-gone relative, you will find stones with elaborate carvings, almost erased by years of wind and rain, endearing epitaphs and still others which have become a permanent marker of the county's history.

Museum volunteers Linda Welker and Jan Kalnbach spent many hours researching the many cemeteries that dot the countryside, and have compiled maps to direct the curious to these locations. Some are open to the public and others require to enter the private property.

Each location adds a new piece of history, insights into tragedy and love which endures the ages. And, don't forget the humor, as attested to by this gravestone carving:

"Pause stranger when

"You pass me by

"As I am now,

"You soon will be

"So prepare for death

"And follow me.

"To follow you

"I'm not content

"Until I know

"Which way you went."

In the past, stones have been stolen from various cemeteries, including Bayport Cemetery, which is one of the oldest in the county. Eventually they were found in pawn shops. Twelve of the stolen markers are now on display in the garden of the May-Stringer Museum in Brooksville.

Among the local churches that contain graves are Forest Oaks Lutheran, Nativity Lutheran, St. Andrews Episcopal, Community Baptist, Lake Lindsay United Methodist, and St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. Among the most active current cemeteries are Brooksville Cemetery, Masaryktown Cemetery and Florida Hills Memorial Cemetery. For the adventuresome, there are hidden graveyards in Withlacoochee State Forest. The book lists individuals available to answer questions about the final resting places in the county.

Even mysteries abound. Jack Eckard, founder of the drug store chain and the college that bears his name, founded Camp E-How-Kee on Culbreath Road in central Hernando as an outdoor therapeutic program for at-risk boys. There are rumors Eckard may be buried on the property, but the camp public relations manager denies the story.

The first white settler in the county, William Eston Hope, is buried in the family cemetery on Pennbrook Road off Hope Hill Road. Former Philadelphia Eagles football player Jerome Brown is buried at Fort Taylor Cemetery on Culbreath Road south of Hayman Road. The first known burial in Brooksville Cemetery of a white settler is of Charlotte Wynn Pyles. A full description of the incident is on a Florida Heritage Site marker.

This is just a brief description of the many grave sites listed in the book. Welker and Kalnbach did an excellent job researching the cemeteries and wrote in an easy-to-read style to help residents learn more about Hernando County. Copies are available through the Hernando County Historical Museum Association. Proceeds fund the activities of the association.

And why should we want to do that? Hernando County is not just a blur outside our car windows as we rush through our journey of life. It is where we live and it is a part of who we are. Tourists invited.

Jerry Cowling is a free-lance writer and storyteller living in Brooksville.

Comments
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18