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Cemetery Project

Congregation B’nai Israel Section of Royal Palm Cemetery South
101 55th St S, St Petersburg FL 33707
Pam Askin:
pam@cbistpete.org
Byron Kolitz: bkolitz@tampabay.rr.com

Goal
To improve the accuracy of records for Congregation B’nai Israel’s section of Royal Palm Cemetery South and to ensure each interment is properly identified by name, dates, and location.

Background
Royal Palm Cemetery South was established in 1921, and CBI’s first burials occurred in 1924. Of the original purchase of 80 acres, 55 acres remain today as a cemetery. CBI’s portion is located in the southeast corner of the cemetery (refer to Map of CBI Section of RPCS). The CBI Office maintains handwritten records for its section of Royal Palm Cemetery South with data recorded in a series of ledger books based on cemetery layout.

Specifically, CBI has three (3) Sections. Each Section includes seven (7) Blocks; each Block contains up to eight (8) Lots; and each Lot has up to four (4) Spaces. [Note: Sections 1 and 2 each contain 192 Lots; Section 3 contains 167 Lots. A few Lots have additional Spaces for children.] In total, 551 Spaces have been identified.

The CBI Office maintains a duplex summary ledger sheet for each Section and Block. On each sheet, a Lot and Space is listed as a single line entry. The information, if complete, includes a name and whether the Space is paid and in which year it was paid. Sometimes a comment is associated with an entry. Over the years, entries have been lined-out, changed, and/or notated. Supporting each summary ledger sheet is a series of single ledger sheets for each individual or family purchase. A sheet may have many letters, sticky-notes, etc attached to it. This requires investigation to ensure that the data on the summary sheet are accurate; a great deal of time and knowledge is needed for review and to make decisions. This phase of the project has not begun.

Project
The first step of this project was to transcribe the summary ledger sheets to a spreadsheet. The data from CBI’s records were augmented by information from the Pinellas Genealogy Society’s canvassing of Royal Palm South Cemetery (done between October 2000 and March 2001, and published in January 2010). In this document, each record may contain: last name, first name, middle name/initial, birth year, and death year. As a result, many first names and death years were found for CBI interments.

Recently, the Pinellas Genealogy Society (PGS, www.flpgs.org), began surveying and photographing monuments at the cemetery. PGS completed documenting about half of CBI’s section. New-found and more accurate data were used to augment and correct CBI’s information. Unexpectedly, new names were uncovered that did not appear in CBI’s Ledgers.

The interim results are presented here in a single PDF that can be reviewed online or downloaded – CBI RPCS Ledger Sheets. The document is searchable, so names and dates can be found easily. For convenience, the PDF is sorted by last name, then by first name. The top of each page includes the column headings, specifically: Section, Block, Lot, Space, last name, first name, comment/question, year died, paid, year paid, and PGS photo. Concerns are identified in red, highlighted, and/or by question marks.

It is clear that some of the information is incorrect such as:
a) some Spaces were donated (but to whom?);
b) other Spaces were left unused (sometimes, interment at another cemetery or no one remains in the family)
c) some Spaces were swapped with another family;
d) the deceased may not be interred in the location listed on the ledger, but in an adjacent or nearby Space; and
e) monuments were documented for names not in CBI’s original sources.

Request
We hope that you will review the online records that were digitized from the handwritten files. Please provide the CBI Office with feedback including confirmation of correct entries, and especially with corrections and/or additional pertinent information.

To update and document CBI’s records, we are seeking any and all assistance in obtaining formal identification of ownership. For example, during the 1960s, letters were sent from CBI to owners with the title “OWNERSHIP OF CEMETERY GROUND”. If you are in possession of such a document (or anything similar from any period of time), please send a copy of it to the CBI Office c/o Pam Askin at pam@cbistpete.org.

Note
A number of monument photos can be seen on Find-A-Grave (www.findagrave.com). These were not taken by PGS, so the inscription detail often is not very good. When the PGS project is completed, a goal is for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Tampa Bay (JGSTB) to submit the information to JewishGen. In the meantime, if a “y” appears in the last column on the CBI RPCS Ledger Sheets document, then you can request the CBI Office to send you the photo.

Thank you very much for supporting this project. Your participation is critical to its success and is greatly appreciated.

Wed, November 13 2019 15 Cheshvan 5780