Laurel Hill Florida, Okaloosa County - est. 1905

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A History of
Almarante Cemetery

by Tracy Curenton

Located at the CR-602 and Highway 85 N intersection. 16 miles North of Crestview, Fla, beside the Laurel Hill water tower -
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One of the earliest communities in what is now Okaloosa County was Almarante. A settlement of farmers, mostly of Scottish descent, was present in the area as early as the 1820s. In 1827 a post office was established in the name of Yellow Water. One year later the name was changed to Almarante.

A Presbyterian evangelist was authorized by the Presbytery of South Alabama to preach to the settlers in the Almarante area in 1827. By the 1850s a Presbyterian church was meeting in a log building. The grounds of the church were used for a community cemetery. During the Civil War the church at Almarante was served by the Rev. Mr. Samuel D. Campbell who also served the church in Geneva, Alabama. The Rev. Mr. Campbell died in 1863. The church was left without a minister after this and the congregation dispersed. The last mention of the Almarante Presbyterian Church is in the Minutes of General Assembly for 1872.

The first burial in Almarante Cemetery is said to be that of Effie Campbell, the 12 year old sister of "Honest John" Campbell, an early settler in the area. This and other early graves have been lost over time.

Although the church no longer existed, the cemetery continued to be used by the community. In 1905 W.B. Wright and Company deeded the land to the Trustees of Almarante Cemetery. For many years the upkeep of the cemetery was a community responsibility. Work days were held annually to clean and maintain the property.

In the late 1940s a nondenominational chapel was built at the cemetery. The chapel was intended to be used for funerals and community events. A Board of Trustees consisting of Calvin Wilkins, Alston Campbell, Malcolm Morrison and the Rev. David Miller was elected to oversee the use to the chapel. By the 1970s the chapel had fallen into disrepair and was demolished.

Today Almarante Cemetery is administered by a committee of local residents. The cemetery has been expanded by a donation of land from Ferrin Campbell, Jr. The upkeep of the cemetery is supported by the selling of lots and donations.

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Tracy Curenton, is a local historian and one of the organizers of the Laurel Hill centennial celebration (June 4, 2005). The Curentons have been living in Laurel Hill for numerous generations.

 

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