History of Dade City
Section 26 - Township 24 - Range
To read the early history of Dade City click here.
This cemetery is one of the older of the cemeteries in Pasco County and
contains the burials of many leading pioneers, especially in the
northwest section of the cemetery. Most of these pioneers lived in and
around the Dade City and east Pasco areas. The Dade City Cemetery as it
is known today was actually established from a small cemetery that was
here prior. A 1920's Dade City Banner article
confirms this cemetery was established long before Dade City.
Tom Alexander, a life long residents, is quoted as saying "My
grandmother was buried here [Dade City Cemetery] in August of 1879. There were graves
then, ten year old graves." This dates the Dade City Cemetery's beginning to
sometime around 1869.
The earlier cemetery was established as many throughout Pasco County
were and served as a church cemetery before becoming the Dade City
Municipal Cemetery. The church which was located here was known
as the Oak Grove Baptist Church, this was one of the first established
Baptist Churches in East Pasco. It is believed that the Oak Grove
Baptist Church received its name from the many towering oak trees that
were located around the church and the Fort Dade Community. Like
many churches from this time period the Oak Grove Baptist Church was
likely established as part of a circuit, which provided
an itinerant minister. The churches along these circuits
usually became established churches of the communities, as did the Oak
Grove Baptist Church. Among the first pastors of the Oak Grove
Baptist Church was Rev. R.E. Bell. It is believed that Rev. R.E.
Bell may have first served as the itinerant minister for the Hernando/
Pasco County Circuit, since there are numerous other Baptist Churches,
throughout both counties, that show Bell as their first pastor in
records. According to Historic Places of Pasco County, by
1879 the Oak Grove Baptist Church had 56 members. Located just to
the south east of the church and cemetery property is a small pond.
This small pond was utilized by the Oak Grove Baptist Church and
numerous other Dade City congregations, both African American and
white, as a place for baptisms. This small pond and the Oak Grove
Baptist Church were the location where many early Pasco County pioneers
received their spiritual needs.
By 1884 there were at least five Baptist Churches
serving the East Pasco County area, Rev. R.E. Bell served as pastor for two of
these churches. According to the July 14, 1884 issue of the Fort Dade Messenger,
which is the only surviving copy of the newspaper, Rev. R.E. Bell is
listed as the Pastor of the Oak Grove Baptist Church and L. Parish was
the Superintendent of the Sabbath School. "Services were held the
first and third Sabbath and the Saturday before in each month at 11
a.m.", Bell also served as the pastor of the Emmaus Baptist Church located just west of Dade City near San Antonio.
(click here to see the 1884
Fort Dade Messenger Baptist Church directory) According to Baptist Church
records, in 1886 Rev. Pittman was serving as Pastor of the Oak Grove
Baptist Church. It is believed that the church sat on the north
west corner of the current Dade City Cemetery property since this is where the
oldest graves in the cemetery are located.
As the small community of Fort Dade grew so did the community's
By 1886 Fort Dade was known as Dade City and so evolved the
Oak Grove Baptist, as the church congregation grew the old Oak Grove
Baptist Church building became too small to hold the congregation and
services. According to East Pasco's Heritage,
"on Nov. 14, 1891 ten leading families of Oak Grove organized College
Street Baptist Church in Dade City." During
this time College Street was so named for the South Florida Normal
Institute, which was located on the street. As construction
commenced on the new baptist church building in 1891, the congregation
met in the schoolhouse until the following year. In June of 1892
construction of the new building was completed and the congregation
began meeting in their new church. On June 24th 1891 the College
Street Baptist Church had the old church lot and cemetery property
and plated. (click here to
see 1891 plat) This plat shows a portion of the property that was
not divided into grave spaces, it is believed that this is where the
Oak Grove Baptist Church building sat. It is possible that the
College Street Baptist Church had the old church lot surveyed in
preparations of deeding the property to the Dade City. By 1895
Oak Grove Baptist Church officially dissolved and most of the
church building, which included pews, was donated to other local
such as Withlachoochee Baptist Church. According to Historic Places of Pasco County, by
1945 long after the education institute had disappeared, College Street
was been renamed to Church Street because of the four historic churches
located along the street.
The years that followed the church's move to College Street proved to
be trying. In 1899 and again in 1905 the College Street
Baptist Church building was destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt.
During these trying times the church congregation was growing, it was
in 1905 that the ladies of the church raised funds to purchase a house
east of the church, this house was used as a pastorium. In 1919 a
basement and Sunday School Annex were constructed, which added to the
expansion of the church. In 1940 an old church house was purchased and
relocated to the back of the College Street Baptist Church, this
building was utilized as a fellowship hall. In 1944 when the name of
College Street was changed to Church Street the Baptist Church also
changed it's name. It was at this time that the College Street Baptist
Church took the new name of the First Baptist Church of Dade City. By
1950 the First Baptist Church of Dade City began construction of a new
red brick building; construction was completed by 1955. Today this red
brick sanctuary still serves the congregation of the First Baptist
Church of Dade City.
This photo shows
College Street, the now Historic Church Street District, as it
looked ca. 1890 when the Baptist Church was relocated here.
(Photo courtesy of the Florida State Archives)
This photo taken in
1908 shows that College/ Church Street Baptist Church of Dade City. This building served the
congregation of the College Street Baptist Church of Dade City until a new red brick building was constructed. (Photo
Courtesy of the Florida State Archives)
According to Pasco County land records, it was on December 07, 1901, when W.C.
and J.R Sumner, acting as trustees
for the old Oak Grove Baptist Church, deeded the old church lot and
cemetery property to
Dade City. It was at this point that the cemetery became known as
the Dade City Municipal Cemetery. Immediately following,
the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church also conveyed land to Dade City. According
to Pasco County land records, on December 28, 1901 the trustees of the
A.M.E. Church in Dade City, Dan A. Hartfield, J.M. Perry, R. Johnson
and S. Wade, sold 1/4 acre to the City of Dade City for ten dollars;
this property also became part of the Dade City Cemetery. In the
years that followed Dade City acquired more and more land adding to the
cemetery's size. Today the Dade City Municipal Cemetery consist
of approximately 25 acres, which has been divided into section or
blocks. Each of these areas have varied numbers of burials
ranging anywhere between 30 and 200 graves in each section or block.
On February 20th 1903
the Dade City Municipal Cemetery was re-surveyed to include all of the
new property that had been acquired for the cemetery. (click here to see 1903 plat) This 1903 plat shows the old or original cemetery and church lot clearly identified and marked
Many of the headstones, located in this "old section" of the cemetery, date
from the early 1870's; most of these stones are located in the
northwest corner of the cemetery. The earliest marked grave that
I have located dates 1869 and belongs to a member of the Sumner Family. This early
concrete stone is severely weathered and very difficult to read making
the death date and last name the only information legible. This
older section also appears to contain numerous unmarked graves, these
graves may have been marked with wooden markers. The exact date
that the cemetery was established is unknown, however through
documentation we at least know the cemetery was established and
being used by the Oak Grove Baptist Church in 1869. The Dade
City Municipal Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in Pasco
County. As the cemetery continues to grow so will the history
contained there in and someday the Dade City Municipal Cemetery may be
considered the most historic cemetery of Pasco County.
The list below was taken from East Pasco's Heritage and shows the
names of the pastors who served the First Baptist Church of Dade City
after the move to Church Street
"Pastors who have served First Baptist Church are: P. C. Drew, 1892; W.
M. Wamboldt, 1893-96; W. E. Bogart, 1897-99; George T. Leitner,
1900-05; W. D. Tumley, 1906-10; W. A. Burns, 1910-13; T. S. Hubert,
1913-15; Ben Brooks, 1915-16; Milton M. Bales, 1917-18; O. E. Tebow,
1918-21; B. G. Smith, 1921-24; J. N. Vandiver, 1924-27; W. K. E. James,
1929-31; E. L. Andrews, 1931-35; Jimmy Parrish, 1936-38; Albert A.
Stulck, 1938-42; Elbert C. Tyner, 1942-60; Lamar Brooks, 1960-64; Paul
Wonders, 1965-70; Thomas N. Langley, 1970-72; Thomas C. Broomall, 1972
This page was last revised on April 07, 2007.