The Key West Cemetery was established in 1847 after a disastrous hurricane hit the area on October 11, 1846. The hurricane destroyed several of the older burial grounds creating the need for establishing a new city cemetery.
In 1847 the City bought a 100-lot tract in the center of town for a mere $400. One section held the family plots while another area was designated as the public section. Several years later, the city added 233 more lots. In 1868 there was a Catholic Cemetery added and a small Jewish Cemetery.
The Key West Cemetery reflects an era of cemetery reform that happened across the nation. “The Rural Cemetery Movement” began in the 1840’s. Cities began to build large park-like cemeteries outside the city limits. Cemeteries became peaceful parks for admiring works of art and enjoying the fine landscaped grounds.
There are nearly two dozen US Navy sailors buried here after the disastrous explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898. This cemetery has Bahamian mariners, Cuban cigar makers, Spanish-American War veterans, soldiers, civilians, millionaires, paupers, whites, blacks, Catholics, Protestants and Jews—all resting side-by-side completing Key West’s diverse heritage.
The cemetery is said to be haunted by the ghost of Elena who is buried in a secret grave. Ghostly whispers are heard as you walk down the paths. A mysterious ghost of a concerned Bahamian woman has been seen wandering through the quaint cemetery in search of disrespectful intruders.