Key West Cemetery
In the middle of an island known for its eccentricities lies the Key West Cemetery. Occupying 19 acres and set on Solaris Hill, the highest elevation on the island (18’ above sea level). As Key West is not your typical island, you should expect no less from its cemetery.
The grid-like road system allows walkers and bicycle riders access to the unique gravesites as well as a shortcut through old-town. There are no stretches of manicured grass and neatly set headstones here. The population, which is estimated to be between seventy-five and a hundred-thousand is more than double of the living population of the key.
Dating back to 1847, some of the older graves show their wear; others are disrupted by the massive roots of the banyan trees.
The U.S.S. Maine Memorial commemorates the 260 sailors who perished when the ship was blown up in Havana Harbor in 1898. The event marks the start of the Spanish-American War.
There are graves with familiar names that now mark key sites in Key West — Ellen Mallory (Mallory Square is named for her son, Secretary of the Confederate Navy) and Willam Curry (the family’s Curry Mansions is a popular historic B&B.)
There’s the grave of the real Sloppy Joe – “Sloppy” Joe Russell (1889-1941) who was Ernest Hemingway’s fishing guide and a famous Key West bartender.
Welhelmina Harvey (1912-2005) was the first woman juror in Key West and a local elected official whose grave gives her the title “Admiral, Conch Republic Navy.”
A popular stop is B.P. “Pearl” Roberts (1929-1979) who famously had inscribed “I told you I was sick.”
Nearby, Gloria M. Russell (1926-2000) notes: “I’m just resting my eyes.”