The West Augustine Improvement Association is proud to announce the Pinehurst and San Sebastian Sponsor-A-Grave Campaign and the Pinehurst & San Sebastian GoFundMe Campaign to raise funds for new granite gravestones and upkeep at two of the oldest African American cemeteries in Florida.
When WAIA founder, local West Augustine teacher Nellie Meade, first started the organization back in 1956, one of her goals was to help with the upkeep of the black cemeteries in St. Augustine. Without any local owners, the African American cemeteries were more or less abandoned with grass growing chest-high and weeds taking over.
Since WAIA was able to gain ownership of the Pinehurst and San Sebastian cemeteries, a continuous effort has been made to keep the grass cut throughout the year, but the task is enormous for a small, volunteer-run organization with very limited funds.
In 2021, the first Pinehurst & San Sebastian Restoration Day took place, and volunteers from all over the area, local clubs, organizations, and churches came out to help clean the cemeteries. Many of the individual graves were cleaned, and headstones were cleaned with a special solution after instructions from specialists, which made engravings appear that had until then remained illegible.
WAIA hosts several restoration days every year, which help us get in and around the individual graves.
Now, that the graves are visible and it is possible to access the entire cemetery, it is clear that many graves have either lost their grave markers or are in danger of losing their grave markers entirely due to the weather and poor materials.
Through research, WAIA has been able to identify some graves, while the names of other graves are lost forever.
One example of a grave that has lost its grave marker over the past few years is that of St. Augustine Record columnist Artemesia Holloway Jones.
|Artemesia Holloway Jones' grave at the San Sebastian Cemetery - October 2021|
|Artemesia Holloway Jones' Grave - March 2023|
Artemesia Holloway Jones' grave is just one of many graves with crumbling grave markers, but thanks to volunteers passionate about saving the black cemeteries and the graves of African Americans, we have photos from over the years and documentation from previous mapping projects that can help us identify even some of those graves that have been without a grave marker for years.
The Pinehurst & San Sebastian Sponsor-a-Grave Campaign and the Pinehurst & San Sebastian GoFundMe Campaign are WAIA's attempts to prevent any more graves from losing their grave markers forever.
|Doretha Smith, Lisa Lewis, and Jessie Powell with the replacement gravestone.|
As a part of this Sponsor-a-Grave campaign, an individual, family, group, church, or business can choose to sponsor a new granite gravestone for one or more of the unmarked graves or graves in danger of losing their grave markers.
The Sponsor-a-Grave campaign will run simultaneously with the Pinehurst & San Sebastian GoFundMe Campaign. The goal of the GoFund Me Campaign is to raise funding for 50 new granite gravestones and to help with the upkeep of the cemeteries.
Help Us Raise Money for Granite Gravestones:
The Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries Sponsor-a-Grave Campaign:
- One 8" x "18" wide x 4" deep granite gravestone
- Engraving and installation from a local company.
- Cost $210
For $210 you can sponsor a grave and ensure that someone buried at the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries will be honored far into the future with an engraved granite gravestone.
|A sample of the granite gravestone, which will be replacing the crumbling or missing or grave markers.|
To Participate in the Sponsor-a-Grave campaign:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Reach out via messenger on Facebook or Instagram
- Or simply donate the amount via the West Augustine Improvement Association's PayPal account'
- Or donate the amount via check made out to the West Augustine Improvement Association and mail it to: The West Augustine Improvement Association, 455 South Volusia St St. Augustine, FL 32084
- If donating directly via check or PayPal, please leave us a note, and make sure to let us know who you are, and how we can contact you, so we can thank you for your sponsorship.
- If you prefer you can donate to the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries on GoFundMe.
We are so grateful to anyone who will help us honor those who came before us, and we appreciate everyone of you who donate and help us spread the word about these fundraising campaigns.
Even if you are unable to support the campaigns with a donation, please help us spread the word to your friends and family via a follow and a share on social media. You can find the West Augustine Improvement Association on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.