Fort Lauderdale’s Evergreen Cemetery

 

I recently took a brief trip to Pompano Beach, Florida to visit friends who live and work in the area. Before I even mentioned it, one of them asked me which cemeteries I wanted to haunt. I did some research on Fort Lauderdale boneyards and after discovering that Leslie Nielsen’s grave was in Evergreen, my destination was clear.

The marker at one of the entrances reads:

“EVERGREEN CEMETERY
Established 1910

Many Civil War veterans are buried at Evergreen Cemetery in addition to the founding families of Fort Lauderdale including the Stranahans (who built the Stranahan House on SE 6th Avenue), Bryans, Kings, Cromarties (the maiden name of Ivy Julia Stranahan) (1881-1971) and the Olivers. This burial place for the early residents of Fort Lauderdale was established by Mr. and Mrs. E.T. King in 1910. In 1910 or 1911, a funeral director from Miami moved many bodies from the first burial ground, in the proximity of what currently is Southside School on Andrews Avenue, to the newly created Evergreen Cemetery. In 1917, the City of Fort Lauderdale purchased the cemetery. In 1921, the American Legion purchased four lots set aside for the burial of veterans. In 1926, hurricane victims were buried in unmarked graves in the north central portion of the cemetery. This area is also the baby section. In 1935, B’nai Israel acquired blocks one and two for burials of those of the Jewish faith. Evergreen cemetery is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest intact cemetery.”

I didn’t see the marker until near the end of our whirlwind tour, so I didn’t have any of those names on my “graves to look for” list. For example, Frank Stranahan, credited with founding Fort Lauderdale, is buried on the grounds with his wife, Ivy. Despondent after great financial losses and possibly suffering from what today would be coined clinical depression, Frank Stranahan committed suicide in 1929. He tied a heavy grate to his foot with a rope and leaped into the New River in front of his home.

Tiptoeing through a Florida cemetery in close proximity to a body of water was a totally different experience for me. The grounds were a hotbed of wildlife activity, especially Muscovy ducks which make a hissing sound instead of quacking. The ducks didn’t bother us, even though they approached us several times (probably looking for food). I think the most alarming animal encounter was the sighting of a large brownish-green reptile (which turned out to be an iguana) chilling in the distance near one of the mausoleums. For the rest of the time in Evergreen I was much more careful of my footing.

 

The shade from nearby trees cast shadows on Leslie Nielsen’s memorial bench and grave marker, but I was so happy that we found them that I didn’t care if the images were a little dark. Nielsen doled out the following advice to aspiring actors: “Sit down whenever you can.” (I think that’s sound advice for those of us who aren’t interested in acting, too.) The inscription on his marker simply reads, “Let ‘er rip.” Thank you, Mr. Nielsen, for keeping us laughing from beyond the grave.

 

From an architectural point of view Evergreen is quite different from most of the cemeteries that I visit. My interests typically take me to the older sites peppered with tall vaulted obelisks, mammoth surrogate angels, and Victorian symbolism aplenty. What I learned from this visit was that even though the markers are contemporary in style, there are still some very interesting, humorous, and touching memorials to be seen in “younger” skull orchards.

 

“Dream Great Dreams and Make Them Happen”

 

quote from Hunter S. Thompson

 

 

Victims of the 1926 hurricane are buried in unmarked graves near the baby section.
 Woodmen of the World marker

 

“I Did It My Way”
“What Can I Do For You?”
“Take The Common and Make It Unusual”

 

 

 

 

“Whatever”/”I’ll Always Love You”
I love seeing palm trees in cemeteries. I don’t see them often enough.

 

 

 

 

B’Nai Israel Section Entry Gate
Advertisements