Our Heritage: Palatka, Florida’s Historic
Take our Tour of Heroes.
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Lynn A. Hoffmann and Mary E. Murphy-Hoffmann
Welcome to Westview Cemetery.
The term "cemetery" is a misnomer, for it is really a park, repose, museum, sanctuary, time machine, art exhibit, and much more.
What appears to be one large contiguous cemetery is in fact three separate entities: Westview, which is the old historic "white" section; a "black" section, and St. Monica’s Cemetery which adjoins the latter at a row of hose bibs running along an unfenced boundary of several hundred feet.
The origins of this venerable burying ground are shrouded in mystery. What is known is that at one time long ago, the site was a refuse dump for the town of Palatka. Trinkets, mostly broken but occasionally intact, come to the surface once in a while. As with any midden, they give a glimpse into a forever-vanished way of life. Silver spoons, found in broken jam jars, mother-of-pearl buttons, little china cat figurines, an old shoe, a silver 1835 dime, extract bottles, bits of bone china, and thousands of oyster shells attest to the early 19th century popularity of the delicacy.
Finds of military style uniform buttons, spent bullets and an underground cache of flintlock rifle balls along with two bucking balls indicating a leather bag (long gone) buried for safekeeping, suggest the possibility that Westview’s role as a burying ground may originally have been military in nature. The first two known marked interments were soldiers who fell during the Indian Wars. They are located on the south side of the Gazebo.
Fort Shannon was located a mile or two northwest of the present cemetery, and it is known that there was a bunker on the river-shore at the present location of the Presbyterian Church, a mile or two to the south.
Rumors, not proven, suggest that there was another fort in the area that is "missing." Is this the present site of Westview? Time and further exploration may tell.
Nothing is known of the next oldest interment, that of D. B. Duke who died in 1847, and is the rounded mausoleum located north of the Gazebo.
By this time the precedent was set and other interments were made. It is a beautiful, peaceful spot. The oldest and most historic section of Westview is the central area around the Gazebo. As the population grew, the surrounding areas started being utilized.
The tours, both hosted and self-walking, concentrate on the oldest areas. Interred within is the State of Florida’s first elected governor, William D. Moseley; Judge Benjamin Putnam, Putnam County’s namesake, several mayors of Palatka, prominent businessmen, state legislators, heroes and heroines of the Civil War, as well as the average citizen that is the backbone of a community.
We wish to see this resource of our heritage cultivated into a reverent historical site, for use by the public to learn about who and how the place of Putnam County began. We hope you enjoy your visit to one of Palatka’s most peaceful and historic spots.
"The Guardian Angels of Westview":
Lynn A. Hoffmann
Mary E. Murphy
About Your Hosts:
Lynn Hoffmann became interested in Westview Cemetery in 1982 when at the end of a long day on the job as a Field Engineer for a major corporation, he wanted a quiet place to finish the day’s paperwork. At that time Westview was rather unkempt and the stones pitch black. Curious as to what one might look like if it was clean, he purchased a gallon of bleach and a scrub brush. The first one turned out so well that he tried a second one. He was especially interested in the Clara Sands monument. Once that one was gleaming white, he was hooked. Eventually, after hundreds of gallons of bleach and countless sprayers, Westview was clean, and other people began taking notice. He began learning the history of the people interred there and their places in the history of the county.
Mary Murphy is the great-granddaughter of a pioneer from Edgefield, SC, and has always had a tremendous interest in genealogy and local history. They first met in 1985 in Westview when the Putnam County Genealogical Society descended on the cemetery to conduct a survey. Common interests led to friendship, which in turn led to marriage in 1988.
Mary E. Murphy
Lynn A. Hoffmann
To comment or inquire about the Westview Interment Database (4200+
records), e-mail us at:
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Last updated 05/08/2014