Eastpoint Cemetery is, in many ways, the resting place most representative of the working waterfront and the followers of the maritime trades.



Many headstones record the title of captain and one monument to a married couple celebrates their relationship as captain and first mate. There are at least a half-dozen stones adorned with oysterboats. Others display ship’s wheels, shrimp boats and fly fishermen. Many boats are accurate to the point of bearing a state registration number. There is a marker for John Colson Goodson, buried at sea in 1959. Another bears the nickname “River Rat.’



The oldest marked burial is little Theodora Vrooman 1903-1905. Although there is no record of her life, she was born and lived between the censuses of 1900 and 1910; she was probably the child of Harry and Louise Vrooman who came to Eastpoint from Mackinaw Island, Michigan by way of Georgia. Vrooman was a Harvard graduate and social reformer. The Vroomans joined the Christian Commonwealth, a religious colony that founded Eastpoint. The colonists came down the river from Georgia on a flotilla of three barges, two of them homemade. They carried with them household and farm equipment, chickens, horses, ducks and a pair of turkeys.



The barges arrived on April 5, 1898, and were later disassembled to build the first houses. Vrooman followed a year after the first pioneers.



The Vroomans’ son, Lee, is widely believed to have donated the land for the Eastpoint Cemetery, but it is unclear when that occurred. The land must have been donated before 1930, because the earliest burials of people not named Vrooman occurred in the 1920s.  There are a scattering of stones dated between 1920 and 1950 but burials don’t become common until the late ‘50s.



It is unclear why the cemetery was located at the junction of Avenue A and Otter Slide Road. The Vrooman home was on South Bayshore and is still standing. Whittier Brown surveyed the cemetery, along with most of Eastpoint, according to Charles Moore of Eastpoint, who served as the cemetery’s caretaker for several years up until recently. He said Brown was also school bus driver in Eastpoint.



Brown was the son of David and Rebecca Brown, a Quaker couple who had arrived with the first group of Eastpoint settlers.



Dolores Roux of Apalachicola remembered Whittier Brown was also the grave digger at the cemetery, a duty she said he carried out until he was over 80 years old.



Lee Vrooman died in 1954 at age 57 and is buried in Eastpoint Cemetery along with his wife and daughter Theodora. Vrooman’s parents, Harry and Louise, do not appear to rest there. It is possible their graves were marked with cypress gravestones that have deteriorated. A few cypress markers do remain in the cemetery, although all mark graves that now also have stone memorials.



Veterans of both world wars and Vietnam are buried there. The earliest birth date shown on a headstone is James A. Williams , born in 1827.



Although there is no shortage of youthful inhabitants in the cemetery, a survey of the nearly 600 interments reveals something a little surprising.



Four of the people resting there lived to be over 100 years old: Herbert Egg Brown, Dec. 25, 1883 - Aug. 1, 1984; Nettie S. Smith 1903-2004; Lenora Dennis Gilbert, 1900-2002 and Virginia McQuagge Barton, 1902-2006. This is well above the national average. In the general population of the United States, one person in 6,000 reaches 100 years of age. In 2010, there were 53,364centenarians in the US.



A 2008 study of elderly Americans of Japanese descent showed that a gene called FOXO3A, was related to long life. Could it be since Eastpoint was founded by a small group of settlers and many current residents are related to those pioneers, that FOXO3A or a similar gene is common among Eastpoint residents?



Moorecreated most of the concrete coping seen in the burial sites, and while he is now retired as caretaker, signs at the cemetery continue to advertise his coping talents.



The cemetery is now under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Summerhill.