Oakland Cemetery in Panama City receives historical recognition

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A local cemetery has gained some historical recognition. The City of Panama City and the Historical Society of Bay County held a dedication at Oakland Cemetery on Wednesday. The cemetery received an Official Bay County Historical Marker.

The site had to be at least 50 years old to qualify, and also all historical data must be documented. The designation honors the cemetery as an important and educational part of local history.

“I want to thank the city for honoring our history and allowing us to put up the plaque that memorializes the founder of Panama City,” said Tim Fontaine, a member of the Historical Society of Bay County.

The cemetery is also the final resting place of Panama City Founder George Mortimer West. Historians said had it not been for his contribution, this cemetery would not be recognized historically today.

“It’s significant because of the people that were buried here that were pioneers. But also George and members of the West Family,” said Nancy Hudson, a long-time volunteer of the Panama City Publishing Company & Museum.

Hudson added that this is just step one of the process in getting the cemetery registered on the national level.

“We’re hoping to complete the paperwork. we’re in the preliminary application process right now to get it on the national register of historic places as well,” Hudson said.

One special member in attendance, Charles “Buddy” West, is one of the remaining heirs of the West family.

“I just think this is fantastic. That people are remembering not just my family, but all the other old families that are in here. You know early pioneers,” West said.

One of those families includes the first known burial on the property, Armina Mosher in 1895.

Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen said this is just one of the many initiatives the city is doing to keep local history thriving.

“We’re trying to preserve that history and share that history with others. So that they know from what we come from,” McQueen said.

All in an effort to make sure local history isn’t forgotten.

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