Rose Cemetery

December 2017 – Tarpon Springs

The first time the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg went to Rose Cemetery in Tarpon Springs was in February 2004. We arrived at about 4 PM and left after sunset, around 6:30 to 7 PM.  The weather was moderate at 70 degrees.  Once we arrived, our head sensitive at the time felt pulled toward a certain area of the cemetery.  She sensed a very strong female presence and the word “Sister”.  We followed her lead and she did take us to an area where we found a tombstone engraved with the title, “sister” and a name.  We did get EMF.  On the way out of the cemetery, which closes at sunset (we stayed just a short time after sunset) I took my film camera loaded with 400 speed black and white film and stuck it over the wall.  I snapped a photo and when the film developed, I got the image above.  The original reports and page were one of 7 that corrupted when the website was archived.  The event took place so long ago that only the image and one vague report remained of the investigation.

In 2010, the SPIRITS returned to Rose Cemetery.  The page on that research has been archived and is located here:

In 2017, two of the SPIRITS investigators started to do a new bit of research on the area.  The drawing above is what one woman saw when she looked at the photograph.  She envisioned a middle-aged African American woman who was curious as to what we were doing.  She wondered if the clothing might be a tie to the Bahamas. (Drawing by DB).

Here are the preliminary reports by two of the investigators who started to research the area:

Rose Hill Cemetery, 181 N Jasmine Avenue Tarpon Springs, Florida 
4.63 acres; search Pinellas County Property Records as 0 Jasmine Avenue [1] Plat Book/Page D-G/800
Weather in Tarpon Springs, Saturday December 2, 2017: Precipitation0%, humidity 76%, temperature 76f. Winds 7mph.
Rose Hill Cemetery is nominated to the National Register of Historic Places for local significance under Criterion A in the areas of Ethnic Heritage/Black and Social History, for its association with racial segregation practices, the development of Tarpon Springs’ African American community, and as a site at which community members maintained Southern and African American burial practices. The period of significance ranges from 1904 to 1967. The earliest recorded burial dates to 1904, but it was believed to have been used by black community members to bury their dead since the 1870s. Originally known as Rose Hill, the property was owned by the Lake Butler Villa Company and was located east of the white cemetery, Cycadia. As a result of local and county segregationist policies that sought to bury African Americans separately from other citizens, the Lake Butler Villa Association gave a 99-year lease to the citizens’ board that was formed in 1916. In 1917, they deeded the property to the Rose Hill Association. Cultural beliefs from African and southern American traditions are apparent in the east-west orientation of graves, scraping, positioning of couples, chairs and benches, and decorative elements on the graves, such as conch shells and symbols engraved on the markers. Rose Hill Cemetery maintains its historical integrity and has remained in active use by the African American community of Tarpon Springs since its inception. The name Rose Hill Cemetery was changed to Rose cemetery in 1979, with a change in the managing association. [2]
As this site is purported to have a malevolent presence, some preparations were made to err on this side of caution.
1107am Checking in with Brandy on way to site. Parked on West side of dumpster located ¾ way back on site, south fence line that abuts Discovery Play Grounds. There is a sand/lime dust roadway throughout grounds.
1110am Arrive at Rose Hill. Open with circle. Decision to begin in South East corner, moving North along Eastern fence line, and moving in a patterned back and forth (North South) direction while making our way slowly West to the front of the cemetery, which faces Jasmine Avenue.
Equipment: Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS Digital ELPH camera with video and sound capacity, pens and clipboard for notes. Also on investigator persons: Two cell phones, LGK7s, which did not experience battery drain but also were not used during the visit.
Research: It must be noted that another local team has written about how Rose is very unsettled, hostile and aggressive. [3] I submit that particular writer also admits to having sneaked in at night after another investigation close by, as an intruder, not as a respectful visitor during gates-open hours. Based on some of the reports and findings of previous teams, research was done into Bahamian traditions and Obeah, as it could possibly explain some of the unrest. As such, some extraordinary precautions were taken above the usual.  
Preparation notes: Kabbalah red string bracelet worn by both investigators, as well as herbal protection oils. Crystal protection amulet. Nassau Shake Music saved to cell phone. Bahamian conch shells and small amount of rum. Sea salt.
Goal: Mapping the cemetery with particular focus on three prominent Bahamian families: Brooks, Dorsett and Reece.
Immediately apparent:
Mapping would take months, if not years; additional data and resources to be explored.
Years of neglect are evident, especially compared to Cycadia across the street. Contact will be made with the board to find out about volunteer opportunities.
It is also apparent that decedents are still remembered by loved ones and friends, as here and there are recent gifts left behind by visitors, but the majority of gifts are sunbleached and broken.
Most gifts were decorative, holiday or meaningful items, seashells, floral arrangements (silk), a Sky Vodka bottle (on a young man’s grave), and other varied mementos. There were however a plastic skull and a Halloween sign strewn about near the dumpster.  
While neither investigator at site is prone to undue psychic sensitivity, this writer is sensitive to the aural, environmental, and vibrational pollutions and occasionally feels physical, emotional and vibrational responses to same, nothing was felt at the site today except peacefulness, but also a very human sadness at the neglect.
Video and photos were taken throughout the cemetery, and were reviewed by both investigators afterwards. No anomalies, not even an orb, were visible in any of the media taken. Review of the audio in the video did not reveal anything unusual. Submission for third party review (Brandy) will made for confirmation.
The gift of a Bahamian conch shell brought from a beach on Eleuthera decades ago with a spritz of rum atop it was left at the headstone of Wilburt Brooks, the first African-American to own his own sponge boat. The Brooks, Dorsett and Reece families are of Bahamian lineage. The gifting of a conch shell or rum was deemed best means of honoring this man and his contribution to the sponge community of Tarpon Springs.

1230pm Arrived back at car and closed circle.

1233pm Notified Brandy we were leaving.


As we entered the cemetery, it was a bright mildly warm day with a slight breeze. We pulled further into the cemetery and chose a parking spot as far from graves as we could. As we exited the car we stopped for an investigation opening. We proceeded to the far back east corner to start our investigation. We continued on from one grave to the next, photographing and waiting to either feel something or make contact with a resident of Rose Cemetery. We continued north then west then south. Photographs and small notes continued. We stopped at every veteran we found and thanked them or their service. As we continued through we were also looking for a couple family groupings. The Reese, Dorsett and Brooks families were our main focus as they were the most mentioned in Kress’s research. After locating each family, we paused briefly to get a sense of the surrounding area. In a previous investigation an image was captured on photo of what appeared to be a woman. As we crossed this area we stopped for video of the area in attempt to communicate. We also noticed that almost all the graves here had the people with their feet facing to the east. We located 2 that were facing the west. We also stopped here for a video and communication attempt. We finished our walk through about 1 ½ hours later. Upon completion of the walk through I felt nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, unlike other walk throughs, the feeling of Rose Cemetery was calm and peaceful. I witnessed nothing that seemed out of place or odd. After reviewing the photos and video I also did not notice anything that seemed odd or misplaced. It was in fact a very peaceful visit.

​December 30, 2017

Three of us went back to Rose Cemetery.  This was an interesting trip.  Note the following: 

1)  From my actual notes of the event:  OK, so today’s trip to Rose Cemetery started out with a bit of a glitch. We met in a house in New Port Richie before heading out. I had started to develop a headache and opted to take some Advil before we left (I debated on it as I’m headache prone and sometimes they can go away on their own. It wasn’t happening this time). So, I ended up climbing into my car. The Advil bottle had rolled to the back seat so I had to partially climb back there (I have a VW Beetle). I got the bottle, pulled out my pills and closed the door. I went into the house to get some water and realized that I didn’t have my keys with me. Yes, for the first time in 11 years, I locked my keys in my car. Yes, that great big hulking key chain was sitting in my front seat. And we were getting ready to go. AAA called, keys released, cemetery walk through ensued.

On the way back, I apologized, again, for the car key incident. (There are days when I do feel as if I’m getting old, and this is something that a forgetful professor would do. On the plus side, it does verify that this was a headache setting in. That is a time when I am more likely to have a lapse!) We got back to the house and disembarked. Two of us were left in the car and I think the key discussion had just ended. The person in the backseat, wife to the driver of the car, tried to get out. The door would not budge. We tried the electronic locks latch on my door (push button, push door — not opening.  Push button the other way, push door, not opening). She was pushing her shoulder into it in case the door was stuck. I tried it from the outside. This door would not open. Finally, she climbed out over the equipment on the other side of the car. Got car owner came out and we told him about the door. He was able to open it, get in, close it and re-open it just fine.  I did ask if the door had done that before (no) but it could also be a glitch.

This could all be nothing. It might have just been a glitch. However, the timing was incredibly odd. I’ll check in, again, to see if they had any other trouble with the car door! (I have, happily, not locked my keys in the car again, though!)

2)  Breath:  Toward the end of the investigation I went to get a picture of the Rose Cemetery historical marker. As I stood there I realized that there was a steam showing up in my field of vision. I could see my breath. It lasted for maybe 20 seconds and was present for 3 exhales before it stopped. I tried, repeatedly, to capture my breath on camera (I’ve done it before as a “test” and it’s usually pretty cool).The issue: They weren’t three breaths in a row. The other issue: No one else saw my breath, their own, or could get a mist to form from their breath. The third issue: I couldn’t get it to happen again in other parts of the cemetery (facing the same direction in case it was a lighting issue). The natural elements that might debunk this as anything more than an oddity: It was 56 – 58 degrees outside according to the thermometer. Sunset happened at 5:49 (and it was just after sunset, around 5:55 here). In Florida, breath condenses in the 50s. My group rejected my premise that I really AM a dragon lady (might as well stick to my reputation, right?) I took 5 shots in a row trying to get this to happen. I had no luck at all capturing a breath mist on film. I could not visually see one after the first three. I like this one (only one where I got my mouth). 😉

3) I did discover that cell phones, even with powered off, do interrupt Boy scout compasses. It means that there is a magnet (or some sort of EMF) present to disrupt the compass setting.  The likely culprit is the speakers within the phone.  However, it does reinforce policy to leave cell phones packed away during investigations. 

4)  I attempted to utilize my Nikon B500 digital camera to replicate the image from before (see image at the top of the page from 2004).  I set it in the same location and as close to the angle that it had been in 2004.  I took five shots.  The fifth and final shot returned an orb image.  Orbs are a problem for me.  Granted, this camera had produced no orbs the entire night on any of the images, but the possibility of an orb being a natural object (dust, pollen, pollution) is also pretty great.  

Rose Cemetery: December 30, 2017

We arrived at Rose mid-late afternoon; we were the only folks there for the duration. We parked at the front cast iron gate, and we opened the investigation in the North West corner. The guest book was located in the palm, and Brandy was asked to sign. We had signed previously when we had driven by and met the president of the cemetery association and the head groundskeeper.  

During the investigation, Brandy and Bryan were paired up, I shot primarily video (some pictures) at a distance from where they were doing EVP work.  

This is the third trip by my husband and myself to this location, and with every visit we notice more and more.
Due to the acreage, for this visit, we focused on the gravesites of historical significance or renown.  

Mr. Lofton: Loved his mule and his bed. He was buried with his bed, the frames and posts of which surround his site.

Mr. Quarles: Fought on the side of the Confederacy in the Civil War. He was a military man, and thus thanked for his service.
It was in transit from Mr. Quarles’ site to Mr. Brooks an EVP was obtained. 

Mr. Brooks: The first African American to own his own sponge boat. The Bahamians who came in and dove for sponges predated the Greeks by ten years, and were known as Black Hooks.

During the EVP work conducted on the southern border of the cemetery, video and pictures were taken. Review the following morning indicated an anomaly in the shape of a small child dressed in white, brown hair, and a pillbox style hat, was seen. This is not seen in other photographs and video of that same area taken within minutes, and would certainly have been noticed by the investigators close to it at the time. We will be rechecking this particular location/view Saturday January 6th.

Due to the rampant Spanish Moss growing on the trees, many photographs seem to have a mist.  

Special focus was spent under and near the tree by the front gate, where Brandy’s 2004 photograph was taken. Nothing of note was visible in the footage. However, I spent a lot of time sitting in the area, and at one point looked down and discovered a sizeable bone.
Video was taken of the bone. It is the front leg of a cat.
This could either be physical evidence of one of the reported animal sacrifices the self-styled Satanists have performed in this cemetery (Tarpon Springs police shared this information with the head groundskeeper and the president of the Rose Cemetery Association) or it could be that a cat met its end on Jasmine Road and perhaps a coyote dragged the remains into the cemetery to do what coyotes do in private.

Some notes on Animal Sacrifice:

It would seem, upon research, that the mutilation, torture or sacrifice of small animals such as cats or dogs in a cemetery would be the work of self-styled Satanists and/or folks with serious mental health issues.

Historically, animal and human sacrifice have generally been performed in religions where the deity in question needs blood to survive or is appeased by the life given up in their name.  

LaVeyan Satanists, however, are atheists. To them, there is no actual entity called Satan. Ergo, sacrificing a life to appease Satan is nonsensical.

Apparently this includes animal sacrifice. Energies are garnered from orgasm and anger.  

Note that the article cited above refers to “12 to 14 cat torture and mutilation cases” but avers that only five of the cats were confirmed to have been killed by “humans.” If the other seven to nine cases had not been linked to human activity, then why were they reported as incidents of “torture and mutilation”? The fact is that cats are frequently killed by larger animals such as coyotes and through a variety of accidental means, but both types of deaths (and unexplained disappearances) are often mistakenly chalked up to the work of “satanic cults” and described as cases of “torture and mutilation” when the deaths occur around Halloween.

Are the dangers “satanic rites” pose to cats at Halloween time a real, widespread phenomenon, or largely a self-perpetuating Halloween myth? What evidence we could gather was inconclusive.

Santeria: Eyebale (Blood sacrifice):
Occasionally a major ebó will require blood sacrifice. This is one of the more controversial parts of the Santeria faith, but we want to demystify the practice for those who may not understand its function. Within Santeria blood sacrifice is only done with the kinds of animals you’d find on a farm: chickens, roosters, goats, sheep, pigeons, etc. It is a required part of any initiation (Elekes, Warriors, Orisha Addimú, Kariocha) and without blood sacrifice you do not have the presence of the orishas in that ritual, and you do not have a legitimate consecration. This is an ancient and traditional practice upheld by the culture bearers of our religion and is not something that can be excluded in said rituals.

Animal sacrifice is something that should be done with great respect to the animal, making sure they are given plenty of food and water as well as room to move about while in holding prior to the ritual. The sacrifice method commonly used in Santeria involves the severing of the carotid arteries with a knife to cause the animal to pass out before it dies. This is one of the most humane ways of killing an animal and is nearly identical to the way animals are handled with Kosher and Halal religious slaughter techniques. Most often the animals for major initiations are then butchered and the meat is cooked and shared with the community. The orishas or ancestors eat the blood, and the people eat the meat. It is an act of communion with the spirits.

This serious ebó is done when it is absolutely necessary. At the Santeria Church of the Orishas, we try to find simpler solutions like addimus before resorting to eyebale. Eyebale (Animal Sacrifice) is a legally protected form of religious practice according to the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1993 case of The Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye vs. the City of Hialeah. Our church action committee, SAFE – Santeros Against Fraud and Exploitation, takes a strong stance on the ethical treatment of animals prior to sacrifice and adherence to proper ritual slaughter of animals.

The information strongly indicates that no organized religion was responsible for the death of this particular cat. While one hopes for natural causes, it is equally possible some local ill-balanced individuals have decided to use this cemetery as a place to do harm in the name of whatever they come up with. Thank goodness there are heavy police patrols at Rose overnight.

Upon leaving Rose, we drove to the park along the southern line to locate the burial sites of those not interred in the cemetery proper. One site was located, it was observed that the six-foot concrete slab atop the site was raised about 10 inches on one side. Inspection of the underside revealed beer cans, indicating yet again the lack of respect with which this area has been treated by persons unknown.

Review of the videos taken during the was completed several times. Once for visual, once for sound, once for both combined.  

While there is no electrical power at all in the cemetery grounds, there are power lines along the front and side. However, one does not hear sound from these lines. In a number of the videos is a low hum. In one video in particular the hum intensifies to the point it ought have been rather noticeable to the videographer. It was not.
While I am not sensitive, I did feel strongly I had seen a woman in a white dress, 1940s or 50s styled, between two garden trees. No evidence was found on video, however, it was in this area that Brandy and Bryan began to notice problems with the compass and electronics.

Research continues. This location will become a work in progress, especially as we plan to begin volunteering with Rose this month.  

The below recordings take place  near the start of the investigation.  They appear to have muttering associated with them, though some have associated the sound with possible noises from birds.  Some have suggested SOME of the noise is birds, but later in the recording it is whispering.  One person noted the word “mercy” as one of the utterances. 

This (left) was near one of the more recent tombs. You can hear two of us in the location. I say “This is a very elaborate tomb” and there is a “thank you” afterward. (I think. I hear the “you”). “Will there be others placed with you?” VERY soft: Two. (Note: another investigator continues to talk and says “several spots, at least two” and the meter spiked again. I can only hear this under headphones.

(Left) — I’ve never heard an EVP with whispers becoming “solid”. The other two investigators do not sound like this. No one else was present. However, need to rule stuff out! This one….this one has me. The circumstance: I was near the gate attempting to replicate a shot I had taken in 2004 that I think is a positive image of a ghost there.

(Left) — This is very near the end of the investigation.  We were doing our wrap up and were about 10 minutes out from leaving.  I do not know what is being said. 

This final EVP is from the last grave that we checked outside the fence.  Not sure what is being said (one suggestion was that the entity was upset because ht couldn’t hear us clearly) but take a listen and hear for yourselves!

Notable Rose Hill Cemetery graves: 

Ah, I wish that I had met him when alive. He sounds awesome. Morris Lofton was a peddler who valued two things: his mule and his bed. When he died, he requested to be buried with his bed. The railing still exists (and considering he died in 1910, it’s in really good shape).

This is the tomb of an African-American sponge diver. It turns out the sponge sponge divers in this area predated the Greeks by at least 10 years. This gentleman had his own vote and his own business.

There is a tomb of an African American Confederate soldier here.  Went by the name of “Christopher Columbus” to keep his identity hidden.  We got some spike there.

This is one of the newer tombs and the best kept in the cemetery. When attempting EVP sessions, we got spikes on the size of the plot (for other family). This plot includes solar lights, 2 benches, flowers, an actual burning candle in a box, a time capsule of favorite items, stone ground covering inside, mulch on the outside. It’s incredible.

There are more bodies than markers in the cemetery.  They have attempted to find the locations of unmarked graves (likely due to wooden markers and poor documentation) with the use of radar and cadaver dogs.  When one sees the small circular markers in the ground is a “hit” spot for unmarked burial. 

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