1850 Manatee Burying Ground

Tombstone Tours promo photo MBG with col

Manatee Village Historical Park works in partnership with the City of Bradenton to offer free self-guided walking tours of the 1850 Manatee Burying Ground. The Burying Ground is located East of Manatee Village Historical Park (across 15th St East). This is the oldest established cemetery in Manatee County.  

 

Pick up a key to the cemetery and an information packet in our Wiggins Store. Visitors will stroll past the entrance of our 1887 Church and use the gates that lead to the Burying Ground. The 1850 Manatee Burying Ground must be locked and the key returned before it is time for visitors to leave museum grounds.

 
 

History 

The Old Manatee Burying Ground is one of the oldest organized cemeteries on Florida's Gulf Coast. Josiah and Mary M. Gates deeded this land on May 30, 1850, making it the first public burying ground in the area. This site took new burials until 1892. At that time it was closed to all but immediate family members of persons already buried there. During its active period, veterans from conflicts affecting local and national history were buried here. There are fifteen veterans buried here, representing the Seminole Wars and both sides of the American Civil War. Three members of the Florida Secession Convention, including the convention's first president, also rest here.

There are ninety-eight known graves in the Manatee Burying Ground. However, ground penetrating radar showed upwards of 233 potential graves in this space. Time and weather have destroyed many of the markers and inscriptions but the memory of these determined and resourceful settlers live on. Most settlers came here in search of a better life for their family. Through programs like the Armed Occupation Act (1842) and the Homestead Act (1862), they were given that opportunity and the community of Manatee developed. Many endured wars, unpredictable elements, and epidemics during their lifetimes.

Today, the property is owned and maintained by the City of Bradenton. Manatee Village Historical Park provides public access to the Manatee Burying Ground during its open hours, arranges for routine cleanings of the graves and headstones, and hosts guided cemetery tours certain times of the year.