City to Establish Committee Dedicated to Memorializing Unmarked Graves at Capital City Club

City to Establish Committee Dedicated to Memorializing Unmarked Graves at Capital City Club

The City Commissioners unanimously voted to establish a committee to explore options for commemorating the Capital City Country Club property at their Oct. 14 meeting. The action comes after unmarked graves were discovered on the 7th hole of the country club’s golf course.

The purpose of the staff and community representative committee will be to determine ways to honor those who are buried on the property and provide recommendations to the City Commission. The City Manager will be responsible for establishing the committee and inviting representatives of the country club to join.

Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said she wants the City to work with both the country club and community leaders, especially those from the historical society. She also said she wants to see a distinction between the grave sites and the rest of the golf course.

“We want to recognize that these graves are there and we want to memorialize and leave some type of remembrance so that those who come behind us will know that we did the right thing by these residents and made sure that they were properly recognized,” Williams-Cox said.

The City Attorney, Cassandra Jackson, provided several options for elected officials to consider related to the issue. These options included the use of eminent domain and the purchase of the current city lease with the club.

Elected officials settled on the the third option, the creation of a citizen and staff committee.

Previous Meetings

At the Sept. 9 meeting, the Commissioners voted to bring back an agenda item on the results of a 2019 ground-penetrating radar survey of the country club golf course. The survey report, prepared by the National Park Service, revealed a high probability of several unmarked graves located on the site, which historically was a 500-acre plantation operating from the 1800s to the Civil War.

In 1935, during the Great Depression, the Tallahassee Country Club gifted the property to the City of Tallahassee. In 1956, the City leased the property back to the Tallahassee Country Club for $1 per year for a term of 99 years, which will end in 2055.

Following the discovery of the graves, the Commissioners began exploring options for the future of the lease.

“There are several options that have been discussed in the Tallahassee community regarding possible action related to the grave-like anomalies located on the golf course property,” staff reports.

The City could potentially acquire the a section of the property by eminent domain. To acquire any property by eminent domain, the City is required to establish a public purpose and necessity.

“There are a few unique legal issues that would be presented,” staff reports. “Certainly, historic preservation is a public purpose. Regarding necessity for the taking, the City would have to establish with reasonable certainty the existence of the unmarked graves and the location of each grave, i.e. more testing.”


17 Responses to "City to Establish Committee Dedicated to Memorializing Unmarked Graves at Capital City Club"

  1. Avatar
    Jerry Kimbro   October 19, 2020 at 2:45 am

    How do we know it isn’t a cow or something? Dig a grave up. Get some DNA and find out what and who is buried there!

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    MIB   October 15, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    What I don’t see:
    How are they identifying the remains? Are they going to do DNA tests?
    mtDNA can be recovered & sequenced going back at least 30K years, now. Y-DNA & autosomal not so far back, but usually far beyond 90 years in most cases.

    Oetsi, the ice man, found at the southern edge of the alps in South Tyrol, just north of the Vinzgau/Vintschgau/Val Senales, was partially sequenced, along with what species he was in the process of making a new bow out of, what he ate for breakfast, what he used to make his clothing, what kinds of grass he used to insulate his shoes… and hence where he had been in his last day & weeks…and this despite the gross mishandling of his remains by local authorities.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    TallahasseeeHistorian   October 15, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    The cemetery is almost certainly related to the Houstoun plantation, which once spanned all of what is today Country Club Estates, Myers Park, and Indianhead Acres. A family descendent remembers seeing the graves before the golf course was expanded in 1936. You can read the history here:

    http://www.wooddrives.com/assets/HoustounPlantationCemetery_04-19-2019.pdf

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Reed Mahoney   October 14, 2020 at 9:59 am

    This seems simple. Thirty-five years remaining on the lease, at $1.00 per year?
    Surely someone at City Hall can fork over $35.00. Then, the citizens can decide how to proceed.

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Roger   October 13, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    The remote sensing anomalies should be ground-truthed before any final decisions are made. There are many subsurface features that look like graves in GPR data, including tree roots. It’s highly unlikely there as many unmarked graves as are being interpreted by the NPS.

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    dave   October 12, 2020 at 9:25 am

    What if they spend a lot of time and money only to find that the graves are confederate soldiers? Wouldn’t that be a laugh.

    Reply
  7. Avatar
    Snidely Whiplash   October 11, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Pandering 100% pandering.
    Now somebody find a real and compassionate solution.
    But first dont you think you elected pandering folks should confirm what’s under those “grave like deperesions”?
    No Snidely we prefer to pander.

    Reply
  8. Avatar
    Hope   October 11, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Why don’t they mark the graves properly and compassionately? Create a Memorial out of respect and do not try to hide it; then maintain it in perpetuity?

    The city does not need to buy it as the city does not have the funds or the need.

    We do need to respect gravesites and walk back and correct our errors of the past.

    When the property was first sold and developed were the gravesites noted on the survey?

    Reply
  9. Avatar
    Celtic Kat   October 9, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    I worked at Capital City Country Club (CCCC) from 1991-2005. During that time, the management, Board of Directors and most members knew about the possibility of the graves’ existence since it was brought to our attention by a FAMU professor (whose name escapes me – Charles U. is all I remember). Erecting signs about the site and fencing it off was suggested but never followed through. The Democrat often gets the history of CCCC and its arrangement with the City regarding the lease incomplete, if not incorrect. As far as CCCC being in “dire staits”, it is a member owned club that employs a management company to run it. CCCC has been “in the red” for the last 35 years (or more).

    Reply
  10. Avatar
    Edward Lyle   October 9, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    Why do I get the feeling that sometimes life imitates art?… can you say Poltergeist?

    “ You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you?! You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! YOU ONLY MOVED THE HEADSTONES! WHY?! WHY?! “

    Reply
  11. Avatar
    Gabriel   October 9, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Tony, SMART idea that makes senses! Johannes that’s a great ZING! How long will it take before parcels are available? Thirsty investors want to know?

    Reply
  12. Avatar
    Tango247   October 9, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    I read this twice more since my first comment. Not sure who solicited the survey back in 2019 but something tells me that the ultimate goal here is to eliminate the Country Club entirely and not have to wait 35 more years before converting it to affordable housing.

    I have no dog in this hunt, but the Country Club is likely not making money and is long overdue for a refurbishment that would not be cost recovered.

    Reply
  13. Avatar
    Tango247   October 9, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    Grave like anomalies? Perhaps we may want to actually get a shovel and confirm or refute these are actually graves and at least see what the impact of their historical significance may be before we go sliding money around.

    Reply
  14. Avatar
    TONY   October 9, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    OR, since the area isn’t that big. Fence the area off where the Graves are. If a Ball goes inside the Fenced area, the Golfers can consider it as they do water hazards.

    Reply
  15. Avatar
    Otis W Kirksey   October 9, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Purchase the lease

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Johannes de Silentio   October 9, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      …with “Otis’s” money. Exclusively.

      Reply
    • Avatar
      WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot   October 9, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      What will the city do with the club if the lease is purchased? Close it or make it a city run course. Sell it?
      Does the city have an interested buyer who has been in touch with some of the commissioners?
      Is the city proposing to close the club because of a few graves that could easily be protected and respected without such a drastic option?
      It smells very much like a sweetheart deal. The club is in financial straits and needs a bailout.
      Back in 1935 it was the same thing, the city bailed the club out with an arrangement that allowed the club to continue for its members. Most of the city commissioners then were members of the club.
      Now it may be more devious;
      (a) keep the club open for members while the city pays, like in 1935.
      (b) Close the club and sell the very desirable land to a developer who is closely connected to the mayor, commissioners, or city manager or all of them. That’s what happened with the new TPD location. A friend of one of our elected officials had the property listed, the city jumped in to bid on the property, and somebody got a very nice commission.
      History repeating itself??

      I hope no one believes this is really over a few graves. That’s just the cover.

      Reply

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