Happy 2022!

Yes, I’m still at Gulf Cemetery in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. In my last post, I shared some of the history behind this burial ground and some of its oldest markers. Today, I’m going to branch out into some more recent ones since this is an active cemetery.

There are a number of military graves at Gulf Cemetery. One of my favorites is this one for Rick Pfieffer. His military marker is underneath the wreath and I wasn’t inclined to disturb it when I photographed his grave.

Richard “Rick” Pfeiffer had lived in St. Charles, Ill. before moving to Florida in 2002.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisc., Richard “Rick” Pfeiffer (1942-2004) was a Vietnam veteran who spent his final years in Florida. His grave is covered in many different kinds of shells. There’s also a bench positioned across from the grave which tells me there are folks who come to sit a spell with Rick and share a cup of coffee from time to time.

Solving The Mystery of George H. Brown

There are a few Civil War veterans buried at Gulf Cemetery and one presented a bit of a mystery. The only information on his government issued marker is his name and the unit he served in. No birth or death dates. So I got to work trying to find out.

George Hosea Brown was born around 1838 in Rutland County, Vt. He was living in Modena, Ill. and working as a teacher when he enlisted in the 65th Illinois Infantry, Company I, in February 1862. His enlistment rank was that of sergeant so I’m guessing he had some previous military experience.

Rev. George H. Brown’s marker gives little away about his past.

During the Civil War, the 65th Infantry took part in several skirmishes including the Battle of Resaca, the Siege of Atlanta, and the Battle of Nashville. George served for three years, mustering out with the 65th around July 1865. His final rank with either that of First Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant as some records conflict on what rank he mustered out at.

George returned to Illinois after the Civil War. Records indicate he married during the war to an Anna Lena Raycroft in 1864. Census records show he was a clergyman by 1880, living with his family in the Chicago area. There were a few years spent in Cherokee, Iowa where two sons were born. Anna died in 1901 and Rev. Brown remarried in September 1903 in Michigan to widow Laura Pine, who was nearly 40 years his junior. The couple moved to St. Louis where they had three children together.

Sometime after 1910, the family moved to Pensacola, Fla. and George died on Oct. 6, 1912. His son, George Dewitt Brown, is buried at Gulf Cemetery as well.

“A True Craftsman”

I feature many grand, intricate monuments in this blog and that’s always fun. But there are also times when a more humble marker can get my attention. This small one for James “Jim” Bradford is one of them.

Jim Bradford enjoyed going on adventures in his VW bus, according to his obituary.

Born in 1977 in Tallahassee, Fla., Jim spent much of his life there. According to his obituary, Jim had many hobbies including playing the drums and guitar, attending music festivals, traveling the country in his Volkswagon bus (which you can see on his marker), and riding ATVs with his father and brother.

His obituary also notes, “When not away on one of his many journeys, Jim was always willing to lend a hand to friends and family. Jim was a true craftsman, he could fix anything and customized practically everything he owned to his liking with meticulous detail. Jim graced the world with a unique flair.”

I think Jim is somebody I would have liked to have known, if I had been blessed with the opportunity.

Jim was a good friend and enjoyed helping others. (Photo source: Ammen Family Cremation and Funeral Care)

I noticed on Find a Grave that Jim’s father, Charles Bradford, died in 2020 and is also buried at Gulf Cemetery.

The Unknown Dead

Gulf Cemetery also has a number of crosses marking graves that have no names on them at all. They are scattered throughout the cemetery.

A number of white crosses with no names can be found throughout the cemetery.

These are close to the road.

Who are they?

In the back corner, I found a plot with these brick markers with no names. I can only guess that the family couldn’t afford markers but wanted to marker the graves in some way.

An anonymous family plot with bricks as markers.

But I think one of the saddest markers I’ve ever seen was this one for “Unidentified Hispanic Male” who died on February 2, 2008. I have seen temporary funeral home markers like this many times before, which are placed to mark a grave until a stone can be placed. But I have never seen one like this that had no name of any kind, just a date.

The identity of his man is unknown.

Perhaps this poor fellow died and the country provided a space for his burial. I don’t know. But he had a mother, a father…he meant something to someone out there. And they may have no idea what happened to him. Rest in peace, my friend…

The Watchmaker’s Daughter

This last grave is for a child, Lynnette K. Nealley. She was the daughter of watchmaker Lynn Leroy Nealley and Evalina Woodland Nealley. She was the youngest of their four children. The family moved from Kansas to Florida before Lynnette was born. Lynette was only three when she died on Nov. 3, 1922.

Lynnette Nealley was only three when she died in 1922.

Her father, Lynn Nealley, died many years later at age 81 in March 1959. I did not see his marker when I was there, but according to Find a Grave he is also buried at Gulf Cemetery and there’s a picture of his half of what appears to be a shared marker. Oddly, there’s no memorial for Evalina, who died in August 1959. I will be returning to the area next month, so I’ll stop by the cemetery to see if I can solve that mystery.

Gulf Cemetery is a sweet gem of a cemetery that I enjoyed visiting during my vacation. Next time, I’ll be about a mile from this burial ground at a much smaller one with more Florida history.