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I am writing this letter to explain my frustration with the Levy County School Board and the actions they took last week in moving the remains of my great grandfather, great grandmother, great step-grandmother and great aunt. I am retired from the Foreign Service and currently living in London as my wife is assigned to the American Embassy here.
About a month ago I was informed the school board was planning to relocate the cemetery so they can build a new high school. It seemed as though they were under the impression no living descendants of Rufus K. and Caroline H. Limbaugh existed, but we are plentiful with some still living in Williston.
I became aware of the cemetery around 2005 when I was researching my family genealogy. I posted on several websites and one day got a reply from a land surveyor who said he was surveying land for a developer and came across the cemetery, he included pictures of the headstones. I thanked him and told him I would make a trip the next year after I retired but he came back and said that perhaps I misunderstood as they were preparing to bulldoze over the cemetery and build houses.
The next week I drove down from Alexandria, VA and had the good fortune of meeting a Mrs. Harris and a Mrs. Toni Collins. I also met with the funeral director in Williston who is no longer there. We managed to get the cemetery listed as a historic cemetery and the developer agreed to put a fence around the cemetery and not build on it. I was relieved and the next year I took my wife, brother and his family to visit. The developer had closed up and moved on because the land had failed the “perk” test. I thought all was well and a beautiful and peaceful place with a lot of family history preserved until I was notified the school board planned to build a school on the site.
Several family members were split on moving or leaving the cemetery where it was and after a while I was in agreement of the move but it was the families’ understanding any of us who wanted could be present to make sure it was done in a legal and dignified manner. We had even planned to have another funeral service at the Orange Hill Cemetery. So you can imagine my surprise and anger to find out on Feb. 24 the remains had been moved the week before with no family members present. I was further angered when I found out the funeral director was told by the school board not to contact any of us. Were they doing something they knew was not right because as far as I am concerned they acted like a thief in the night.
None of this can be undone, but I feel my great grandparents deserved better than this. Rufus moved to central Florida in 1851, his first son is buried in the Micanopy Cemetery near Caroline Harris Limbaugh’s parents and the date of death is 1851. Rufus served in the 2nd Florida Calvary during the Civil War and was a Free Mason.
The school board may think they have moved all of the remains but there are the remains of Dunlop Phinney still buried next to Sarah Limbaugh’s old grave site. Dunlop was buried there in 1912 but when his wife, Maggie Limbaugh died, there was no space in the old cemetery so she was buried at Orange Hill and his headstone was moved but his remains were not.
I tried calling the school board and each time was told the person I wanted to speak with was either in a meeting or out of the office. To this day, no one from the school board has tried to contact me. I’m not that hard to find as they did have their attorney contact my brother and he could have easily given them my email address.
In closing, let me say that I am disappointed and angry that a county government official can instruct a funeral director not to contact any family members and as far as I am concerned desecrate a cemetery in the state of Florida.
Larry L Limbaugh