By Brett Nolan
Plummer’s Cove Cemetery is the only tangible reminder of the small farming community of Plummer, a section in Mandarin located at Plummer’s Cove (now adjacent to the Buckman Bridge). In use by 1860, this cemetery was the early burial grounds for many of Mandarin’s pioneer families including the Bowdens, Hartleys, Bradys, Flynns, and Wantons.
The area that would eventually include the old burial grounds at Plummer’s has an interesting history. A family of loyalists to the king during the colonies’ fight for independence, Daniel Plummer, along with his eldest daughter and son-in-law, resettled in Spanish East Florida for fear of their property in South Carolina being confiscated, post-American Revolution. In the 1790s, the Plummers owned a lot of land along the St. Johns River, including the future site of downtown Jacksonville. When Plummer died, shortly after marrying Prudence Lofton, the property at Plummer’s Cove was confirmed by the Spanish Governor to Prudence. She died in 1848 and the land was passed down through different family members.
By the last half of the 19th century, the little community at Plummer’s Cove was included in one of the stops made by steamboats. These boats picked up vegetables and citrus from the docks extending out into the river.
The first recorded deed for the cemetery was filed in 1911. Now, well over 100 years later, Plummer’s Cove Cemetery is a great example of the damage done by development. These burial grounds became landlocked over time by residential encroachments and other property disputes. The cemetery has fewer than 20 identified graves still standing. Many markers have disappeared over time — deteriorated, vandalized or even thrown into the river.
Within the cemetery, handmade tombstones as well as other various burial styles of the time, like wrought iron fencing, remain in small numbers and in poor condition. Another interesting thing about this resting place is that it has black and white residents buried there — a practice which was unusual for its time. Two stones viewed in a 2013 survey by Mandarin Museum & Historical Society were African-American Civil War veterans, Adams Robinson and David Wanton (both “Co.C 33 USCI”).
Currently, there is some maintenance provided to this private cemetery by neighbors — but even though it is City of Jacksonville Landmark Site, Plummer’s Cove is in need of extra help. The families that are at rest here helped shape the community of Mandarin and it is unfortunate that they are slowly being forgotten.
(Note: The research collected for this article came from the Designation Application and Report for Plummer’s Cove Cemetery Landmark Status. City Bill Number: 0943, 1996)
Brett Nolan is a volunteer with the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. For more information about Mandarin’s history, visit www.mandarinmuseum.net or call (904) 268-0784.
Photo courtesy Mandarin Museum & Historical Society
Plummer’s Cemetery in 2018.