If you know me, you know I’m a lover of cemeteries and a bit of a cemetery historian.
Imagine my great frustration and subsequent curiosity when I came across a cemetery I can find little to no information on. Step inside Lang Memorial Cemetery, a small independently run cemetery just North of 98 in Hernando County. I found this gravesite via Google Maps. It was pinned with coordinates in Brooksville, but had no physical address. There was only one review and a handful of photos. There was no contact information or website for Lang Memorial Cemetery.
Upon entering, it is very clear that this cemetery is not anywhere near capacity.
There is abundant space and clusters of graves spread about. When I began to walk around, I noticed that all of the ceramic cameo photos were of black people. This led me to believe that this was likely a black cemetery. I kept this in mind for the online search I was to undertake later.
The first thing that immediately struck me was the homemade headstones.
There were not a ton, but I have never seen this before. My guess is that these were made by people who could not afford a costly headstone. These appeared to be made by simply pouring concrete into a form, writing the appropriate information on it, and letting it dry.
From the street, it appears that Lang Memorial Cemetery is a fairly modern cemetery.
However, upon closer inspection, several historical graves can be found. The oldest marked grave that I found was from 1888! Given that there were many indications that this cemetery is the final resting place for many less affluent people, I am willing to bet that there are some unmarked graves in Lang Memorial.
Most areas look to have families buried in clusters as opposed to random burials.
You’ll see a lot of the same last names buried next to each other. In some areas, headstones will also indicate the relation of the decedent to others buried in the cemetery.
Once I got home, I got to work looking for more information on Lang Memorial.
There is virtually nothing online about it. I checked the Hernando County Property Appraiser’s website- nothing. I checked several cemetery location websites, and only came across the same information already available on the Google listing. My next step was to start looking up the obituaries of some of the people buried there. Unfortunately, most of these searched turned up very basic obituaries with little to no information- another dead end. Until I got to Samuel Lawson (1928-2018). From his obituary, I was directed to Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Brooksville.
As it turns out, Mt. Zion AME Church is just up the street from Lang Memorial Cemetery, so this appeared to be a promising lead.
However, their Google listing had no information attached to it other than the physical address. So I had to go digging for information again! After a bit of searching, I found a phone number- disconnected. I found a second phone number- also disconnected. I turned to Facebook, and found their page that hasn’t been updated since June of 2021.
Upon returning to Google, I was able to locate the LinkedIn page of Pastor Dawn Harris, who is the lead pastor of this church.
From this, I was able to find her on Facebook. I sent her a message on Facebook asking for some help uncovering the history of this cemetery. Since it is unclear if I will get a message back from Pastor Harris, I decided to continue my search for information.
I went ahead and continued searching through obituaries. From the headstone of the infant Harry Lawson (1967-1968), I was led to the “Hernando County Cemeteries Burial List Up To 1993“.
This resource provided excellent information regarding who is buried at Lang Memorial and gives you a good idea of who is probably related to one another. I matched up several of my photographs to the burial record.
From here, I directed my attention to Sam Clark (1827-1888), who has the oldest marked grave in Lang Memorial. I looked up his record in the Hernando County Burial list to find more clues, but turned up empty handed. I took to Google to try and locate more information on him and, to my surprise, someone had done an entire genealogy of Sam Clark’s family beginning in 1636 all the way up to 1891!
As I continued to dig through the genealogy, something became clear: this is not just a small independent community cemetery; it is a family cemetery.
From the genealogy, burial list, and obituaries, I was able to draw familial and ancestral relationships between many of the decedents. Though whom started this cemetery is still unclear, my best guess is that Sam Clark or his family owned this property and dedicated it as a grave site upon his death. I was able to identify who married into the Clark family, and connected many of the other last names I saw on headstones to the Clark lineage.
Of course, this was still not a satisfactory ending for me.
So I went back to the obituaries to look for more clues. One funeral home seemed to host a bunch of the online obituaries- Milton Funeral Home. So I gave them a call in the hopes they would be able to provide me with more information. Unfortunately, they know nothing of the cemetery or it’s history and only operate in the capacity of having funeral directors go to the gravesides to oversee the burial. The operator was very kind and patient with me, and I’m sure its not everyday they get a call with this kind of request! She recommended that I try calling other local funeral homes that oversee burials at Lang Memorial.
This story is NOT over!
I am going to continue my deep dive into Lang Memorial and hopefully be able to return with a follow up post. Specifically, I want to know who owns/manages this cemetery and more details about it’s mysterious history. Do you have any leads? Please feel free to contact me!
Photographed Memorials and Obituaries:
I have not identified all of the headstones I photographed or just didn’t get a photo that showed the inscription. I have compiled what I photographed the best I can with attached obituaries if available.
Harry Lee Lawson (1967-1968)
Will Love (1874-1936)
Debra Ann Hammond Bottom (1959-1998) and Unidentified
Milton H. O’Neal (1908-1962)
Cornelia Barnes (1909-1998) and Unidentified
Sam Clark (1827-1888)
Martha Lee (?-1949) and Unidentified