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The Apopinax Tree

Lee N. Pallas Points to where the Apopinax Tree once stood

 


During the First Spanish Period, prior to 1763, this site was occupied by the Christian Indian village of Tolomato, with its chapel and burying ground served by Franciscan missionaries. The village was abandoned when Great Britain acquired Florida. In 1777, Father Pedro Camps, pastor of the Minorcan colonists, who had come to St. Augustine after the failure of Andrew Turnbull’s settlement at New Smyrna, obtained permission from Governor Patrick Tonyn to establish this cemetery for his parishioners. Father Camps was buried here in 1790; ten years later his remains were re-interred in the "new church", the present Cathedral. The first bishop of St. Augustine, Augustin Verot (d. 1876), is buried in the mortuary chapel at the rear of the cemetery. The last burial took place in 1892.

By Lee N. Pallas
the manager of the Ghost Tours of St. Augustine. Artwork Ricardo Pustanio © 2007

Colonel Joseph Smith was buried in the Huguenot cemetery in 1846. The Colonel was appointed to Saint Augustine in 1823, shortly after Florida became a United States Territory. The Colonel related a strange tale that took place the very first week he was in Saint Augustine.

Lee N. Pallas At the grave of Colonel Joseph Smith


As Saint Augustine’s high-ranking military official, Colonel Smith was invited to many social functions. The first week he attended a ball. It was there that he met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He quickly became acquainted with her and her husband. That evening they talked and became great friends. They looked forward to seeing each other again. The party broke up the woman and her husband left with other guest. The young woman took ill that evening and within a week she was pronounced dead due to a sever illness. The young ladies husband invited Colonel Smith to attend the funeral, he asked the Colonel to walk beside him in the procession to the Tolomato cemetery.


The custom of the family, the deceased was carried in a seated position to the burial site. It must have been quite a sight to see this beautiful woman being carried in a chair to the cemetery. With every bump in the road her head lolled back and forth, back and forth. On the way to the cemetery they passed beneath the thorny overhanging branches of the Apopinax tree. One of the long thorns pierced the skin of the dead woman, scraping her skin along the temple. She began to bleed profusely. Colonel Smith, who had not taken his eyes off of her, called out that he had seen her eyes blink. He believed that she was not dead. The husband and other mourners thought that Colonel Smith was deluded and preceded to bury the beautiful woman. Colonel Smith became more insistent and consequently they took her home. Surprisingly, she was alive!! She recovered in a few days and lived for another six years. Had it not been for Colonel Smith, she would have buried alive!


At the end of the following six years she did in fact die. She died again. She once more was carried to the Tolomato cemetery. The procession followed the same format as was six years earlier. The only real change to the procession was that her husband shouted. Do not let her come anywhere close to that Apopinax tree. I cannot go thru this again.


Legend has it that you can see this beautiful woman wondering about the Tolomato cemetery. May she is looking for her husband? Or is she looking for Colonel Smith?

Old Tolomato Cemetery St. Augustine Florida There have been many reported sightings of a child playing around a large old tree in the Tolomato cemetary

Ghost Tours of St. Augustine was developed in 1994 by Sandy Craig, a native resident of St. Augustine. Sandy's heritage roots go back 400 years in St. Augustine, to the first Spanish settlers who arrived in this ancient city. She is of Minorcan descent, a cultural group of people migrated from Minorca, Spain who still inhabit St. Augustine. Maybe this explains her interest with the old spirits of St. Augustine. She's been know to say, "When I pass away, I want to stay here like everyone else and have people tell fascinating stories about why I just can't leave this wonderful city."

www.ghosttoursofstaugustine.com

The Ghost Tours of St. Augustine have been featured on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and A&E.


We are constantly involving ourselves with new ventures. Television, Radio, and books.
The Ghost Tours of St. Augustine will be opening a new tour involving the original wax museum. The first wax museum in the United States. “POTTERS WAX MUSEUM”


Any one wishing to learn more about us can visit our web page. www.ghosttoursofstaugustine.com

We now have a new location. Number 2 Saint George Street. Here in Saint Augustine Florida. Our phone number is 888 461 1009. Or call locally at 904 829 1122



 

 

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