PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — In June 2021, a group of Boy Scouts found human remains during a cleanup at Miraflores Park. Their findings led to the discovery of what was once an African American and Creole cemetery.
Mayor D.C. Reeves announced Tuesday at his weekly news conference that the remains were determined to be more than 75 years old.
“These were people,” said Mayor Reeves. “They were part of a community. These people could be ancestors of current Pensacolians. There are stories to be told here, and I believe the future of this park, how this study proceeds and how its story unfolds, should be handled delicately, and respectfully.”
The Boy Scouts alerted the Pensacola Police Department of the remains, but PPD, the Medical Examiners office and officials from the University of West Florida’s Anthropology Department concluded that no evidence of a crime was present in relation to the remains.
Skeletal analysis by UWF anthropologists found the remains likely of a woman between 35- and 44-years-old and a man between 40- and 47-years-old.
The city of Pensacola announced multiple historic documents including newspaper articles, meeting minutes, legal records, and a map show the ground was used from 1884-1887 as a graveyard by people of African or Creole descent. The ground was previously known as Havana Square.
“During the historic period Pensacola was extremely diverse, and was composed as a multicultural community, that is not always easily defined,” said Adrianne Walker, the City of Pensacola Cultural Resources Coordinator.
The city is now exploring options for a ground penetrating radar and a non-invasive survey to determine if any other unmarked burials are located below ground.
The city of Pensacola has jurisdiction over the burial grounds, and Mayor Reeves will announce a Community Advisory Group that will determine how the community wants the park commemorated, and eventually plan a reinternment of the two individuals.
“It is important that we do not disturb the ground any further a Miraflores Park, and that we respect the final resting place of these historic community members,” said Walker.