For Immediate Release June 20, 2023
Community to Raise Funds for New Gravestones at the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries in St. Augustine.
St. Augustine, FL — The West Augustine Improvement Association announces the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Sponsor-a-Grave and the Pinehurst & San Sebastian GoFundMe Campaigns.
The Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries in St. Augustine are two of the oldest African American cemeteries in Florida, and more than 200 graves are either unmarked or in danger of losing their grave markers.
The oldest known grave at the cemeteries dates back to 1879. Many of the people buried there were born into slavery, and many veterans are buried there as well.
Controversy over ownership left the cemeteries exposed to neglect and vandalism, but in recent years, WAIA has taken ownership of the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries. The small organization hosts cemetery cleanup events, where they invite community members, clubs, organizations and churches to join them.
WAIA has now created the first major fundraising effort to attempt to remedy the lack of gravestones and deteriorating grave markers at the cemeteries through two campaigns: the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Sponsor-a-Grave campaign and the Pinehurst & San Sebastian GoFundMe campaign. These fundraising campaigns will run simultaneously to give community members, businesses and organizations several opportunities to support and help honor the historic cemeteries.
The West Augustine Improvement Association is a small non-profit, volunteer-run community organization that was founded in 1956 by local teacher Nellie Meade to help out in the predominantly African American community on St. Augustine’s west side and to help with the upkeep of the African American cemeteries.
For more information, please visit the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries GoFundMe page and the Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries Sponsor-a-Grave campaign at their new website www.westaugustineimprovementassociation.org.
Video footage about the fundraising campaign can be found on the West Augustine Improvement Association's new YouTube page @WestAugustineImprovement.
For media inquiries, interview requests and guided tours of the cemeteries contact:
WAIA PR Liaison & Social Media Manager
The Pinehurst & San Sebastian Cemeteries
St. Augustine Record Columnist Artemesia Holloway Jones' Grave:
Versanoie's Corner by Artemesia Holloway Jones in the St. Augustine Record
Sample of the new granite gravestone next to a Artemesia's crumbled grave marker.