Historic Spring Hill Cemetery
This historic African American cemetery in Brooksville dates back several generations and is located on 3.8 acres off of Fort Dade Avenue in Brooksville. (Click here for the Old Spring Hill Cemetary Google Map online or here for our embedded Old Spring Hill Cemetery map below at the very bottom of this page.)
It is entirely surrounded by property owned by B.M.M. Land Trust Co. (Bronson, Mason, McKethan families) – the folks who are leasing this land to CEMEX to mine the area immediately adjacent to the historic cemetery. The county is requiring a 250’ buffer between the mining and the historic cemetery.
Access to the cemetery from Fort Dade Avenue is provided via a dirt road through the surrounding property owner’s land.
According to Jeff Cannon, “As far as historical background on the Old Spring Hill Cemetery, there is little to none due to the fact that we have yet to diligently research it and the challenge of dealing with a courthouse fire in 1872 that destroyed most of the records.
We do know that it is one of the oldest cemeteries in historic Hernando County and was the result of the Spring Hill community that sprang up in the mid 1850s.
Very few grave sites survive today but fortunately one grave that is still marked is that of Hernando/Bay area pioneer Rev. Daniel Simmons who passed away in 1855. Rev. Simmons was a Baptist minister who arrived to Hillsborough County in ca. 1835 settling near today’s Seffner. From there he left the area in ca. 1842 due to Indian hostilities and headed back to Alabama where he originated. He was persuaded to return to the area by relative and prominent Tampa resident Hooker. Upon returning he settled in Hernando County where he lived the remainder of his life.
Unfortunately, at this time we don’t know what churches Rev. Simmons was connected to but I personally suspect a church may have existed on the cemetery site and he may have been involved with the nearby Spring Lake Baptist Church which appears on the original surveys of the area.
Beyond that we have to further research to see what can be determined. We also know there are a handful of local Confederate Veterans buried in the cemetery.
Here is a record of who we know is buried in Old Spring Hill.” http://pascocemeteries.org/hernando_old_springhill_cem.html
Since 1993, the cemetery has been managed by Ms. Alice Walker in association with the African American Spring Hill Cemetery Association, Inc. Both her mother and grandmother are buried there. She reports that the cemetery was originally founded by Ada Belle Lykes, who purchased the land from her brothers as a final resting place for African Americans at a time when Hernando County had a sordid history of racial tension.
Alyce Walker has provided the following information about the cemetery:
Alyce W. Walker
P.O.Box 10242, Brooksville, FL 34603-0242
1. Annie Rae Quartman, Lemon Avenue, owned the land where the Health Department (Brooksville)2014 Restaurant, barber shop, apartments and rooming house.
2. Curly Laster owned barber shop, restaurant on Lemon Avenue.
3. Molly Fields owned Liberty Street and Lemon Avenue restaurant, apartments and rooming house.
4. William Moody Timmons owned 80 acres where the fairground is now. 30 acres.
5. Will Timmons owned the land where Sunoco on Broad Street is; it was Imperial.
6. The Tommy Hasty I Family
7. Reu Reese
8. Reu Mobley
9. Annie Belle Timmons. Larry—1926.
10. Henry Hart 1925
African American Cemetery Association, Inc.
Ada Belle Lykes, single, unmarried, gave 3.8 acres to the colored people. (Deed dated 1956). She bought the land from her family and gave the deed to her (black) cook Lena Kelly. The deed was made out by attorneys in Tampa, Fl. The land is not for profit Spring Hill Cemetery. The land surrounding the cemetery is now owned by BMM Land Trust. Before it was owned by the Lykes family.
The cemetery is not respected. One use it to dump trash. Break into our crypts. Took the head off one about 100 years in 2009. Many times we had to replace the top of the vaults. Different family members would go out to clean the cemetery yearly.
Alyce Walker got involved after Lucile Ballard expired 1991.
Protection: Security lights (06). Two white men and one black man went to the cemetery to cut trees for the lights. Yes they made a mess.
The Freedom Bikers of Hernando cleaned up our mess. They worked hard and started at 7 a.m. one Saturday. It was well organized. We can’t thank them enough – and Davey had three trucks there. The driver took up money among themselves to purchase the gas ($200.) You can’t beat God. Give him the glory. The Cemetery does not look like I want it to look, but through some good people it look much, much better. To that we are thankful. Most of all the people own or they thought they owned until the parents expired.
Therefore I (Alyce Walker) could not betray my heritage to CEMEX or anyone else that would want to do anything but improve on it. This is the only things Blacks have and Bethlehem Baptist Church on Brooksville Avenue that was on Lemon Avenue. (The oldest black church). Thank you for caring . I AM I CAN I WILL I BELIEVE – A.W.