The imposing gates of the Huguenot Cemetery lead onto a peaceful green expanse decorated with weathered graves and grand oak trees dressed in soft Spanish moss. The iron street lamp at the posterior turns the headstones into mere silhouettes of their former selves, its heavy iron gates the only safeguard between the living and the dead.
In 1821, Just a few weeks after its procurement as a United States territory, the city of St. Augustine was struck with the yellow fever epidemic once again. According to Florence S. Mitchell’s book “A History of the Huguenot Cemetery,” 13 to 14 people, including soldiers, were dying by the day.
It became vitally necessary to have a public protestant cemetery available for burial, as the Tolomato Cemetery and its consecrated grounds were reserved for the Catholic community.
The Huguenot Cemetery operated between the years of 1821 and 1884 and is home to approximately 436 St. Augustinian souls. Acquired by Rev. Thomas Alexander, then sold to the Presbyterian Church in 1832, by the late 19th century, overcrowding and sanitation issues resulted in the permanent closure of the cemetery.
John Stickney was a staunch Massachusetts attorney who moved to St. Augustine and quickly climbed the ranks to District Attorney, States Attorney, and Judge. To local citizens he was just another opportunist taking advantage of the oldest city during the reconstruction period.
A widower with a brood of children to care for, the Judge became very ill in late 1882. At the detest of his loving family, he traveled (as he often did) to Washington D.C. for an important business meeting regardless of his ailing health. Five days after his arrival he was found dead in his room of complications from Typhoid Fever, and his body was immediately shipped back to St. Augustine.
Judge Long, a dear friend of Stickney, took in the orphans and moved them to Washington D.C. to live out a privileged life. Twenty years later, upon the death of their adoptive father, the children had Stickney’s body exhumed from Huguenot Cemetery and finally interred in D.C. alongside his lifelong friend and caretaker of his beloved children.
One Mr. Wells, was in charge of the exhumation at Huguenot Cemetery on a particularly hot day in Florida. After taking a short break from the intense heat, he carelessly left the casket open and two drunk men were able to steal the Judge’s gold teeth, leaving an embarrassed and bewildered Mr. Wells! He silently closed the lid in hopes no one would notice the desecration of Judge Stickney and shipped his toothless body off to his heirs.
When you are wandering around Huguenot Cemetery, do you see a staunch man in a black hat staring at you? Is the old toothless judge there searching for his long lost gold teeth? Maybe you can help him search for the shiny gold treasure he lost to the graverobbers so many years ago.
You can visit the Haunted Huguenot Cemetery at A1A Orange St., St. Augustine, FL 3208. The gates are open the third Saturday of each month from 11:00am to 2:00pm, but the best way to learn about Huguenot Cemetery is on one of our Haunted tours with Ghost City!