All Saints Cemetery near Fairbanks
Contributed by Murray Laurie
It is likely that this cemetery east of Fairbanks on Hatchet Creek was established by members of the All Saints Episcopal Church built in the new settlement of Fairbanks in the 1880s on the east side of the tracks of the old Florida Railroad which had been built between Fernandina and Cedar Key before the Civil War. Mr. George Fairbanks, for whom the town is named, was a valued associate of David Levy Yulee, the person responsible for the building of the cross-state railroad.
The village of Fairbanks, which was a stop on the railroad between Waldo and Gainesville, had a post office by 1875. The first settlers, men and women from the northern and Midwestern states, purchased land and set out orchards, groves and vineyards in full expectation of creating a horticultural center such as the ones being developed around Waldo and Melrose. Mr. C. D. Furman, the leading citizen of Fairbanks, bought more than a thousand acres of land in 1878 and laid out the town in twenty-acre lots, stipulating that no liquor would ever be sold on any of the property.
Mr. Furman built an imposing residence for himself on 60 acres of land, and his son built a pretty cottage east of the railroad on 40 acres of land set out with fruit trees. By the 1880s Fairbanks' streets had been platted, and schools, stores and homes were under construction. The town had a train depot, a saw mill, several stores, and three medical practitioners. The optimistic citizens of Fairbanks planted a variety of tropical and semi-tropical fruits and nuts, including oranges, dates, peaches, grapes, plums, almonds, pecans and walnuts. A directory printed in 1885 lists more than thirty landowners. So many of the first settlers were from the northern states that the place was sometimes known as "Yankeetown."
Although George Fairbanks, an attorney who made his home in Fernandina, never lived in the town named for him, he was an important benefactor. Thanks to a gift of land and building supplies from Mr. Fairbanks, the new settlers soon had a church. All Saints Episcopal Church was similar in design to the ones built in Waldo and Earleton in the late 1800s, a neat little frame building in the Carpenter Gothic style that was popular at the time.
When the disastrous freezes of the 1890s decimated the groves and gardens of Fairbanks, most of the original settlers apparently left. By 1900s only a few names on the census were listed as nurserymen or growers; the majority worked in the turpentine industry, which was established in Fairbanks at the turn of the century.
Membership in All Saints declined so much that the small wood frame Episcopal Church was moved to Church Street in Starke and renamed St. Marks Episcopal Church early in the twentieth century, where it still stands today. It probably originally stood somewhere close to the abandoned cemetery.
Several of the names on the existing grave markers are associated with the early settlers, who were no doubt members of the Episcopal congregation. An 1883 map of Fairbanks shows the plot of land owned by a Daniel Shaw, James Shaw was the postmaster 1877-1882, and A. M. Hall was the railroad agent. The Furman family may have erected a family stone, but left the area before any members of the family are actually buried there, as there appear to be no individual markers in the Furman family plot.
Germaine Ferguson, who grew up in Fairbanks, said that many fruit trees and grapevines still grow in the area, scattered about and apparently sturdy survivors of the north Florida weather that drove the early settlers away.