Oakland: forgotten cemetery

Before heading out for my weekly photo hike, I put out a question to my online friends, asking them where I should go… beach, woods, cemetery or backroads. The vote, overwhelmingly, was cemetery.

My friend Kath, suggested the venue first, saying a cemetery would be a good place to photograph, in honor of a short story I’m writing with fellow blogger Lance, he of “My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.”

(If you’re interested in the escapades of our heroines, Pauley and Vivian/Millicent, check out “Pauley” in the header nav bar.)

One of my favorite cemeteries to visit is St. Michael’s in Pensacola. It’s located near downtown and is steeped in regional history. After doing a little Google-recon, I found an old graveyard in Panama City to visit – Oakland Cemetery.

Where St. Michael’s is well-maintained and manicured, Oakland is…. sad. So many of the grave stones were toppled and broken. Ledger stones worn smooth over time. Sand and weeds obscuring any legible names or dates.

Many of the stones marked graves of Civil War soldiers, Union infantrymen from as far away as Michigan. One section of the cemetery, spanning almost the entire width of the park, two burial sites deep, was all children. Perhaps the devastating result of an epidemic.

Where St. Michael’s is garden-like, peaceful and serene. Oakland left me sorrowful and restless. Heartbroken that these graves had seemingly been forgotten.

You can click on any image to see a larger photo, or the series as a slideshow.

(Photos shot with a Nikon D60, using an 18-55mm, 55-200mm, 20mm f/2.8 wide-angle, 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, Nikon CoolPix S205 and/or iPhone4)

For more photos, please visit my Flickr photostream.

Unknown Mami
Submitted to Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

20 thoughts on “Oakland: forgotten cemetery

  1. Wow. Eerily beautiful. When you wrote Oakland cemetery, at first I thought it was Oakland California and got excited because my friend lives there and she loves this kind of stuff. You’ve inspired me to go check out my local cemeteries here in San Diego. I do want to visit the one my great grandma is at in Tijuana.

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  2. Maybe the cemetary left you sad, but I am heartened by the old graves. I like old stuff, broken things. They speak. I was part of your Facebook poll to let these old bones speak. They did.

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  3. I was just talking to a friend about my love of old cemeteries the other day. It always breaks my heart to see graves or entire sites that seem to have been forgotten.

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    1. Where we used to live in Tennessee, one of the local high school history teachers had an annual project with his class to find old cemeteries, long neglected, and refurbish them. The students would go in and clear the weeds, repair the stones, and research the history of the people interred there. Once that was done, they would write up the stories and present it in book form to any surviving family members. It was a great project.

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  4. Isn’t is interesting how much you can learn about a specific time period just by visiting an old cemetery. The graves of the children who were all taken in a short time, are always heartbreaking. Seeing the hardships these families endured makes you wonder if we would have been so strong. A great source of history and a boost to the imagination. Thanks for the tour.

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  5. It is always sad to see these forgotten cemeteries We had one close by but a group of friends of the cemetary was formed to tidy and care for the grounds and the gravestones of folk who have nobody else to do so. Thanks for sharing

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