The Amelia Island Genealogical Society literally had to go over the river and through the woods to produce their second book on Nassau County cemeteries.
The Cemeteries of Nassau County was published in November after several years of work. Volunteers from the society hefted machetes to cut the brush back so that they could survey several cemeteries. They are hoping the work will help increase historical knowledge of the area and also help historical researchers.
The book inventories 47 Nassau County cemeteries and lists 4,800 grave sites. Each cemetery entry lists the known graves and gives marker information including the person's birth, death and epitaph. The book also includes maps and directions to most of the county's public cemeteries.
Mary Nelson, chairwoman of the genealogical society's cemetery committee, said the book is an important research tool because some of the earliest Florida settlers lived in Nassau County.
The book is also important to genealogical researchers because it may help them find information about family members.
"The book can help them positively identify that a person was living at a certain place at the time of their death," said Jean Mann, another society member who worked on the book.
Mann said the society thinks it is important to preserve the history of cemeteries before they deteriorate or become vandalized. They said as families move away or die out and grave stones age, the county loses precious historical markers.
"It's very frustrating to visit a cemetery and not be able to find the graves you are looking for," Nelson said.
Mann said finding the birth and death dates can help family researchers find other documents such as wills and administrations of estates that will help them identify family heirs.
The cemetery book project was the brainchild of Connell Ward Jenkins, one of the society's founding members. Nelson and Mann later took over the project and helped the society publish its first book, The Cemeteries of Amelia Island, which was printed in 1997. …