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

In 1946

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

Historical Cemetery
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.

1993
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.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Howell March 9, 2015 at 12:35 pm

03/09/2015

From: Richard L. Howell
South Brooksville Community Economic Development Commission, Inc
822 Shayne Street
Brooksville, Fl 34601
(352) 476-7414

To: Community Commissioners – to be acknowledged into the County minutes

Subject: Bias CEMEX Economic Impact Study – Spring Hill Cemetery omitted from study

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, and can be greatly impacted by allowing mining operations in this area that would be adjacent to one of the oldest cemeteries in Hernando County.

There was no mention in the CEMEX Economic Impact Study presentations presented to the County Commissioners on 2/24/2015 of the impact the CEMEX mining operation would have on one of the oldest cemeteries in Hernando County. The spring Hill Cemetery was dedicated in the 1800’s as a “Negro” cemetery at a time when slavery was still prevalent in county.

The cemetery is 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.

According to Jeff Cannon of Neighbor Against Mining), “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.” Now it seems as those some of the responsible parties or relatives of responsible parties are attempting to put the final touches on erasing all of the historical background of Negroes in Hernando County

Concerned relatives of the love ones buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery would like the CEMEX Economic Impact Study to include what impact the operation would have on the existence of the Spring Hill Cemetery.

• Will bodies have to exhume and relocated?
• What will happen to the exist head stones?
• Who will absorbed the cost of exhuming and relocating bodies to another burial
site?
• Has a new burial site been considered or chosen?

The proposed mining operation submitted by CEMEX is very disturbing to the Negro citizens of several communities whose existence dates back to the 1800’s. They concern and skeptical because they have firsthand experience of the damages CEMEX does to a neighborhood inhabited by Negroes.

They states that they witnessed CEMEX install facilities in the South Brooksville community by dodging the opposition of the county citizens by annexing the property into the Brooksville city limits and expanding the operation without obtaining the proper permits. CEMEX operated this one site just long enough to destroy the South Brooksville community, brought nothing to the community, but took a lot out of the community by underhandedly turning the community into an industrial zone that processed harmful materials and was cited by EPA as changing the quality of air for the residents South Brooksville to breathe in on a daily basis.

CEMEX closed its operations on DR. MLK Blvd. and left it in terrible shape, and constructed another CEMEX plant directly behind the now old contaminated CEMEX property and began contaminating another 20 acres in South Brooksville, and again, ducked around the opposition of the residents who own homes adjacent to the new CEMEX Plant. This CEMEX plant is adjacent to residential properties on two sides, but CEMEX provided neither of these residents any opportunity to express the impact it would have on the value of their property, the quality of the air, noise, and their environmental health concerns.
When you consider that all of these CEMEX operations are either owned by, or affiliates of B.M.M. Land Trust Co. (Bronson, Mason, McKethan families) – the folks who are leasing this land to CEMEX, the Negro citizens are wondering if this is a continuing attempt to eliminate the history of the Negroes existence in Hernando County or the City of Brooksville.
When you consider that CEMEX abandoned the property on Dr. MLK Blvd. left it in a deplorable state, and relocated to a new site directly up against residential homes owner by Negroes, CEMEX’s track record of honesty is in question, and should not be allowed to construct another facility anywhere near Negro own properties. It is highly apparent to all that CEMEX is being used to uproot the South Brooksville community and now attempting to expand its operations to eliminate a historic cemetery that was there prior to any of the owner of B.M.M. Land Trust Co were born.
The residents adjacent to the new CEMEX plant adjacent to their property have complained and complained to the City and County concerning the overgrown privacy fence that separates their property from the CEMEX plant and about the huge mosquito habitant pond built by CEMEX and labeled as a retention area.
There is no Economic Impact Study possible that can justify CEMEX uprooting a historic African American cemetery for the purpose of long range future revenue possibilities. The CEMEX current venture seems to be a well thought out sophisticated method of acquiring extremely valuable property that happens to be a historic African American cemetery; acquisition of the cemetery property would almost double the value of the B.M.M. Land Trust Co. property’s value

Reply

Joshua November 11, 2015 at 7:49 pm

What are you talking about? Do you have any idea? Cemex did not build a new plant at any time. They built a new additional line to an existing plant back in 2008.

What does this mean “They concern and skeptical because they have firsthand experience of the damages CEMEX does to a neighborhood inhabited by Negroes.”. What a BS statement. You have no proof whatsoever that CEMEX has ever done anything to neighborhoods inhabited by African Americans. They in fact provide work for many African Americans at their plant. You should learn about what you’re talking about before just making things up.

Reply

Anthony Murray July 4, 2015 at 4:21 pm

What about the graves on the other side of the road?

Reply

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