As we gear up for the Osceola County Historical Society’s annual fundraiser, Dine with the Departed, we couldn’t help but think of the rich history of Rose Hill Cemetery.
Even though historical records on Rose Hill Cemetery are sparse, largely due to a fire in October 1891 that destroyed documents in City Hall, the staff at the Osceola County Historical Society did some digging for more information! Accounts suggest that perhaps Moses Barber, of the infamous Barber-Mizell Feud, farmed the land where Rose Hill is currently located. The Barbers, once charged with arson, polygamy, and tax evasion, were also accused of the murders of thirteen Mizells over the duration of the feud (check out our exhibit at the Welcome Center and History Museum for more about colorful characters in Central Florida’s past).
By 1889, records show that William and Sara Boswell sold the property, now known as Rose Hill, to Isaac and Mary Morgan for $1,600. The Morgans bequeathed the land to their daughter, Mary A. Rose, for one dollar in 1904. Mary A. Rose and her husband, Rufus E. Rose, donated the property to the City of Kissimmee in 1905 for use as a cemetery. The first official plat of Rose Hill was done by William Barber, County Surveyor, on December 24, 1891.
Prior to the existence of Rose Hill Cemetery, burials were done in Kissimmee Cemetery, which was located on the east side of Royal between Cypress and Walnut. On July 8, 1921, the Kissimmee Valley Gazette reported “internments in the old cemetery in North Kissimmee will soon be exhumed and transferred to Rose Hill Cemetery.” It also mentioned that two members of the Odd Fellows were at the City Council meeting to request a “lesser price be made in Rose Hill Cemetery for a lot to which the body of a brother Odd Fellow, named Tanner, who was buried in 1884, might be placed.” Councilman Thompson, chairman of the Cemetery Committee, announced that it was agreed when Rose Hill was platted that all bodies should be exhumed and placed at the new grounds; in fact, each lot for relocation was given free of charge.
An interesting notation was located in the sales books for Rose Hill Cemetery relating that on April 28, 1978, Bob Berlinsky requested stones be moved from Smith Street to Rose Hill. These stones are currently located in Rose Hill. Although one is now broken with only the initials H.P.S. legible on the footstone, the other shows the name Phillip Domnik Schurr, b. 10 May 1882, d. 5 Mar 1884.
Dine with the Departed brings to life the stories of Osceola County’s most vibrant residents. Funds raised during the event help ensure the continuation of the historical preservation of our community, and make it possible for the Osceola County Historical Society to offer field trips, summer camps, and other educational opportunities throughout the year.