DeLand, FL – Florida Hospital DeLand held a special memorial service on Tuesday to honor unmarked graves that were found during construction to expand the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab in July of 2014.
Pastor Johnny Long from the First Baptist Church of Deland led the invocation for the event, which coincided with the two-year anniversary of the opening of Florida Hospital DeLand’s new 6,740 square foot, $3.5 million cardiac catheterization lab.
When the remains were found, archaeologists from Prentice Thomas & Associates came and uncovered 21 graves dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. “This undocumented gravesite was unbeknownst to us, or Volusia County for that matter,” said Hector de Jesus, Chief Operating Officer at Florida Hospital DeLand. “The hospital was built in 1962 and subsequent to that, this land was basically orange groves, so this was quite a surprise to us.”
Archaeologists say the property the hospital was built on used to be a county poor house. In the 1890s it was converted to an agricultural poor farm, where poor people could live and support themselves. Many of the people who ended up living on the poor farm were elderly or in poor health, and many of the people who died while living there were buried on site.
The graves weren’t marked with headstones and county archives don’t have any official record of who was buried at the site, so remains were sent to a lab in Fort Walton Beach for further analysis.
The hospital laid the remains to rest at Oakdale Cemetery in Deland, where Pastor Long performed the ceremony.
Photos courtesy Florida Hospital.
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