Historic Markers Across Florida



Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Merritt Island & Community Cemetery "White Lilly Cemetery" 1892



Marker ID: FLHM F-713
Location: North Tropical Trail in Merritt Island, FL
County: Brevard
Coordinates: N 28° 26.523    W 080° 43.038
  28.44205    -80.7173
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMTYPM
 



Text:

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Merritt Island & Community Cemetery "White Lilly Cemetery" 1892


Established in 1892, the Bethel A.M.E. Church of Merritt Island was the first African Methodist Episcopal church on North Tropical Trail, located on land James R. Ragan originally acquired through the Homestead Act in 1895. The wooden church sat on brick piers close to the road and was referred to as “The Little Church on Courtenay.” Church pews were made of rough-hewn cypress, worn smooth from years of wear, and lined with fans advertising an insurance company. In front of a small altar was the communion rail, a 4 ft. section of 2x4 wood. Rev. Lawrence Walton was one of the church's first pastors. Rev. L.R. Catlin, Jr. was the pastor when a cornerstone was added in 1959 and the congregation of 49 included many grove workers. After 76 years of use, the church burned down in 1968. The adjacent cemetery was originally known as the “White Lilly Cemetery.” Graves date back to the early 1900s with many unidentified. Among pioneer families buried here are the Gillins, McDonald, Williams and Anderson. Renamed the Bethel-Greater Mount Olive A.M.E. Church Community Cemetery, it is still in use and managed by the Greater Mount Olive A.M.E. Church, Merritt Island.





F-713 The Brevard County Historical Commission,
The Brevard County Tourist Development Council
and the Florida Department of State
2011