The history, names and location of the graves in the Yalaha Cemetery are due to the effort of Elizabeth Garrett, who moved to Jacksonville from Yalaha soon after the turn of the century, Daisy James Whitt, daughter of John and Ellen James who came over from Dover, England in the late 1870’s, John F. (Jack) and Susie Whitt, Robert (Buddy) and Jean Hunter, and William (Bill) and Pat Fowler.
In a letter from Elizabeth Garrett, dated June 28, 1968, to Daisy James Whitt, 45 new gravesites were listed to be added to the original plat which was made about 1911. She was also responsible for the original plat made from memory after she moved to Jacksonville.
Along with the list of names was a plat showing the approximate location of each grave. The wonder of it all, we were able to verify each grave as she had it listed. Only about half of the graves had named stone markers, the rest were either wood, brick, etc. For years Daisy James Whitt took it upon herself to maintain the up-keep of the cemetery. About 1945, she had wood markers made from cypress 2” x 12” x 18” placed at each un-named grave. About 1970, John Whitt, Jr., her grandson, with the help of his Boy Scout Troop, painted all the wood markers white for one of his Eagle Scout projects. The wooden markers were replaced with concrete made identical to the wood markers. This project was under-taken and paid for by William (Bill) Fowler in the 1980’s.
It was about this time a committee was formed composed of descendants of families buried in the cemetery. Corporate papers were drawn to become incorporated to over see the maintenance for the cemetery. This was accomplished July 30, 1980.
The first Board of Directors were; William (Bill) Fowler, Pat Fowler, Robert (Buddy) Hunter, and John (Jack) Whitt, Sr. William Fowler was elected President by the Board of Directors, Robert Hunter, Vice-President and Pat Fowler, Secretary-Treasurer.
After the death of William Fowler, Robert Hunter was elected President, John Whitt, Sr., V.P., Jean Hunter, secretary, and Susie Whitt, treasurer, July 1981.
After the death of Robert Hunter in 1994, John Whitt, Sr., was elected President, Jean Hunter, V.P., Melanie Hunter Elliott, secretary, and Susie Whitt, treasurer. Gayle Whitt Leffler was elected as a director.
Through the effort of Mr. H. B. Hunter, Sr. the Cemetery became the beneficiary from the sale of the privately owned Yalaha Yacht Club property. The interest and donations has made it possible to maintain the cemetery. In 1998 and 1999, with the co-operation of the Southern Monument Studio in Leesburg we were able to purchase 81 named marble stone grave markers for each of the un-named gravesites.
Dr. John Whitt, Sr. and his wife Susie have done their best to locate names and locations with numbers on the old original plat and then locate the un-named graves in the cemetery. This may not be completely accurate in some cases, and this is why it was decided to limit burial to family members only. There are several unmarked graves somewhere in the Cemetery and we do not want them disturbed. One unknown person was shot by a jealous husband and family man. Another was shot in a gambling raid. The names and circumstances be known only to God.
In passing it may be of interest to mention there is another DRAKE monument, exact duplicate to the 15’ plus one in the Cemetery, somewhere in Lake Harris out from Stone Mountain area. It was lost overboard off a barge, during a storm, bringing it down from Jacksonville, Florida.
Another incident worthy of mentioning: Someone’s pet monkey died and was buried in the northwest corner of the Cemetery and unbeknown to the family, that night the monkey was re-buried elsewhere outside of the Cemetery.