“Pioneers! O, Pioneers!” wrote Walt Whitman of the intrepid folks who pushed ever westward when the nation was young. But brave souls ventured far south, too, into a vast, mosquito-infested swampland.
More than 200 of those pioneers are remembered and honored every year at the oldest cemetery south of the Miami River – indeed, one of the oldest historical sites in Coral Gables: Pinewood Cemetery at 7220 SW 47th Court.
The event is Pioneer Day, and this year’s celebration is set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 9, when the public is given a special tour of the cemetery, which dates to 1855. Amid the heavy vegetation, a visitor might think he or she is on a nature trail, save for telltale tiny tombstones marking the many young children lost 100+ years ago.
The first recorded burial was in 1897, when the former Larkins Cemetery (also known at one point as Cocoplum Cemetery) was one acre. Three more acres were added in 1906. The settlers resting there include veterans of the Seminole Wars, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I, as well as victims of the 1926 hurricane.
A 21-year-old UM student convicted in a drunk driving crash that left an elderly woman dead may get a stiffer sentence after she allegedly failed a drug test in court.
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