Other Names: Was known as Orlando Cemetery until 1915
Property Address: 1603 Greenwood St, Orlando, FL 32801
Coordinates: Latitude:, Longitude: -
Number of Named Graves (in survey):
Number of Unnamed Graves (in survey):
Oldest Date of Death on a Tombstone:
Original Information: Greenwood Cemetery is Orlando's largest and oldest cemetery. It is a municipal cemetery owned and operated by the City of Orlando. It was established in 1880. For burial records please see our selection of books on this cemetery available for sale.
1 This cemetery was not published in the 1980s survey but instead is contained in our Greenwood Cemetery Vols. 1 & 2 books for sale.
From CFGS Buried Treasures Quarterly Vol. 33, No. 1 Winter 2001
Greenwood Cemetery - Orlando's Cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery began in 1880 as a stock company called the Orlando Cemetery Company. Eight influential men of Central Florida decided that Orlando needed a community cemetery, formed the company and purchased 26 acres of land in southeast Orlando for a sum of $1800. These men were: W. R Anno, C. A Boone, James Delaney, James K. Duke, 1. H. Livingston, Nat Poyntz, Samuel Robinson and L P. Wescott. Prior to this, burials in the Orlando area were in family plots or in a few small cemeteries - the Powell Cemetery south of Orlando, the Beasley Cemetery (now Oak Hill) west of Orlando and an early downtown cemetery located at Church and Pine Streets downtown, in the area that is now Downtown Baptist Church.
Orlando Cemetery was laid out by Samuel Robinson & Otto Fries, 'with Robinson stating modestly "the cemetery's design was pronounced by experts to be one of the best original designs." The cemetery probably encompassed what are now sections A-J, with the original entrance on Gore Street on the south. Some bodies were moved from other cemeteries - particularly the downtown cemetery - and the Orlando Cemetery was in business. W. R. O'Neal wrote in a 1942 newspaper article that the owners of the cemetery turned it over to E. W. Richards, the undertaker, and basically forgot about it The property became overgrown with brush and weeds; soon a fire occurred which destroyed many of the original wooden markers. In 1892, the city of Orlando purchased the cemetery for a sum of $3000 and added more land. Elijah Hand was given a contract to bury paupers for $5 per interment, and a plot was laid out for Confederate Veterans.
The name of the cemetery was changed from Orlando Cemetery to Greenwood Cemetery in 1915 at the request of two of its founders, C. A. Boone and Samuel A Robinson. The city took over maintenance and created a beautiful setting. Since that time, there have been two additional purchases of land to expand the cemetery to 86 acres. Development has surrounded the cemetery, and there is no more room for expansion. Remaining sites are few, interments are limited to city residents, and plots can only be resold to the city.
There are a number of interesting gravesites in Greenwood. In section D, there is the grave of Fred Weeks who, according to local history, was scammed in a fraudulent land deal. He erected a large mausoleum, with the inscription "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves" and listed the names of the men who had wronged him. The names were later obliterated [at the city lawyer's insistence] but the quote remains. The grave of Joe Tinker, who was a baseball Hall of Famer, is in section L. Sections A and B are the oldest sections and the names on the stones bear a striking resemblance to the street names of Orlando - Robinson, Gore, Anderson, Bumby, etc. There are sections set aside for Confederate veterans, Union veterans, Spanish-American War veterans, World War I & II veterans.
No exact total is known on interments since records and markers for the earliest interments have been lost or destroyed over time. The City of Orlando now maintains records for Greenwood; the director and staff of Greenwood have been extremely generous in allowing access to records.
A survey of Greenwood's stones was conducted by CFGS members about 1983 but was never published. [These webpages are the result of that survey.] Another survey was made of tombstones by Mary Jane Knisely for the DeSoto Chapter of the DAR in 1982 and was included in DAR Genealogical Records Committee reports. The current project* of CFGS is to conduct a complete survey, utilizing all the office records as well as tombstone information. This allows inclusion of those who bought lots and never used them and those who are buried there but have no stones as well as those who have stones. Office records are kept by lot number, so it is easy to locate all family members buried in the same plot. The office records also have information from undertakers as to the age at death and date of interment. The first volume of the Greenwood project is complete and includes sections A through J - including the Confederate and Union veteran's lots. Future issues of this quarterly will include abstracts of those records.
Greenwood Cemetery is generally bordered by Anderson Street on the north, Mills Street on the west, Gore Avenue on the south and Hampton Avenue on the east. An urban wetlands park sits just outside the gates on Greenwood Street as it leads into the cemetery. Old oak trees shade the grounds and plantings of azaleas, sago palms and other shrubbery beautify the area.
* This "current project" is in progress summer of 2015.