Woman finds 'dump' among cemetery

Brooksville cemetery dealing with neglect

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. - Christina Siino couldn't believe it.

"I was just like ‘Oh my God, you got to be kidding me,'" she said.

The Brooksville woman was walking through the woods off Fort Dade Avenue near State Road 50 about a week ago.

She was traipsing through trash and garbage. It was clear people were using this area of the woods as a dump. Then she saw something else: a tombstone.

The area being used for a dump is also the site of Old Spring Hill Cemetery, also known as Ayers Cemetery or Confederate Cemetery.

It is the final resting place for at least six Confederate soldiers and Rev. Daniel Simmons, an early Bay area settler, said author and historian Jeff Cannon, who has an interest in historic cemeteries. Simmons, the oldest person buried at the cemetery, died in 1852.

But the cemetery is now being forgotten. Trash surrounds the dead. Some of the tombstones have been yanked out of the ground.

"I'm pretty amazed people would desecrate a sacred area like this," Siino said. "I feel bad for the people buried here. This is how they're left, this is how they're remembered. It's sad."

According to Cannon, the cemetery is privately-owned and currently held in trust. Obviously, no one is maintaining the area and some consider it a dump.

Cannon does not. He works with the Pasco County Historical Preservation Society. In connection with the Friends of Hernando County Historic Cemeteries and Hernando Past, he is planning a restoration effort at the cemetery.

He said they do similar work at other old cemeteries, but this is one of the ones in most dire need.

He is also trying to get the cemetery added to the Florida Master Site File. Doing so would prevent a developer from plowing through the cemetery.

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