The History of Electra Cemetery
Electra Cemetery is
located on the east side of Highway 314-A about four miles south of
Highway 40 in Marion County, Florida.
It appears from census records that some of the earliest families to
arrive in Marion County and live east of the Ocklawaha River in this
part of the county which later became Electra were the Griggs ca. 1848,
the Sellers ca. 1849 and Fort ca. 1851/53. The Sellers came from North
Carolina. The Griggs and Forts came from South Carolina, both first
moving to Alabama for a few years, and then moving on down to Marion
County by the above dates.
It wasn't long before all of the above families' children married into
each other's families and into new families arriving in the area, such
as the families of Barber, Brant, Brinson, Folkes, Freer, Halford,
Heath, Holton, Hudnell, Meadows, Mock, Snell, Tillis, and others. The
Barcliffs, Pillans, Stebeltons and Waters moved into the area. All of
these then became the primary families that lived in Electra and are
buried in Electra Cemetery.
When Mary Nickie Fears Waters arrived in September 1882, she named the
community Electra. Mary was well educated and chose this name from
literature written about a famous Greek tragedy that took place in the
House of Agamemnon. Three versions of Electra's life were portrayed by
Sophocles (497-405 B.C.), Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.), and Euripides
(480-406 B.C.). A later was written by Jean Giraudoux, a French
playwright, in 1937. Two of the
most famous New York productions of Electra's life were "Mourning
Becomes Electra" by Eugene O'Neill. and "The Prodigal" by Jack
Richardson in 1960. Many other plays, novels and poems have portrayed
the life of Electra and probably many more will be written as man
continues to try to develop his civilization.
The National Archives Trust Fund, Washington, D. C., has a list of all
Post Masters who served the post office at Electra, Marion County,
Florida. They are: Wm. R. C. Barcliff appointed 29 April 1886, Geo. W.
Waters appointed 18 August 1890, John J. Brown appointed 7 September
1893, Geo. F. Manson appointed 22 November 1897, James C. Pillans
appointed 26 October 1899, Charles F. Harris appointed 11 September
1925. He served until15 May 1931 when it was discontinued and mail sent
to Umatilla, Florida.
It is believed Electra had three separate post office buildings over
the years. According to Ethel Fair Pillans Alsop, the second post
office/general store building was built, owned and operated by
Ethel#SYMBOL \f "WP TypographicSymbols"61s Grandfather James
Christopher Pillans. It was located about one city block south of
Electra Cemetery on the west side of the road. It was a wooden building
with windows. The windows were just openings with no glass but had
shutters. It also had a porch. James house was across 314-A from the
post office and
general store. Orange groves were also on both sides of the road. James
also grew sugar cane and they had cane grindings. Ethel Fair Pillans
Alsop daughter has a
photograph of this Electra Post Office and General Store. Standing in
front of the post office and general store are three of James
Christopher Pillans children,
Charles Palmer Pillans, Porter Perry Pillans and Louis Hinely Pillans.
Also in the photo is a fourth unidentified young man. We have a
photograph of Jonas H. Halford standing in front of his horse and buggy
holding the mail bag, in front of an old wooden general store and post
office which was Electra. The sign on the store says U. S. Post Office.
Jonas delivered the mail.
Ruth Clara Harris Griggs remembered Mr. Pillans operated the Electra
Post Office and General Store for sometime after she and her family
arrived in June 1922. Her father, Charles Field Harris, purchased their
homestead on 314-A north of the cemetery and he then built their home
and the last Electra Post Office and General Store. This post office
and general store still stands about a half mile north of Electra
Cemetery on the east side of 314-A. This is the only home Ruth ever
lived in since coming to Florida because when she married, she and her
husband, Percy Eliot Griggs, continued to live there. Ruth lived in the
home until her death on 27 February 2001. Ruth remembered her dad
also had a gasoline pump at his business and gasoline was 12 cents a
gallon. Another source reminded us that these early gasoline pumps were
mechanically pumped. Ruth remembered Andrew Jackson Holton was the man
who brought the mail from Ocklawaha by auto.
Unfortunately, prior to her death, Ruth said she needed to have this
last Electra Post Office and General Store demolished soon as it is
crumbling so badly. She states it was made of the stucco popular at the
time spread over wire mesh and is much too deteriorated to be moved or
restored. It is a shame that this building cannot be moved into the
cemetery and restored. When this is gone, our only memory of Electra
and its early families will be Electra Cemetery.
Electra had a school house which was also used as the voting precinct
and as a meeting place for the Masons. It was located south of the
cemetery on the east side of 314-A across the side road that is just
south of the Moose Lodge. Later a Masonic Lodge was built north of a
later post office and general store on the east side of the road. These
buildings no longer exist. Electra also had a large turpentine still.
The Harmony Baptist Church existed on property behind the cemetery.
When this church was discontinued, the building was moved to Ocklawaha
and was renovated into a house. Many of its members joined the
Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church. I am told that some of the Forts and
the Waters attended the Moss Bluff Church of God.
Before Highway 40 existed, the only route to Volusia County from Marion
County was a dirt road that crossed 314-A north of Electra Cemetery,
named Volusia Road. The portion of Volusia Road that ran from the west
into 314-A was then called Electra Road, so named probably because it
became the route the Waters and the Griggs had to travel into the
community of Electra. Descendants remember the homes were called
"Fields." They were referred to as fields because all were farmers.
Waters Field and Griggs Field were located on Electra Road.
A short distance north of Electra Cemetery to the east of 314-A was
Sellers Road. This certainly had to have gotten its name because it led
to a Sellers home. There is still a Sellers Bear Hole on the Marion
County maps. Directly east of Electra into Lake County (originally part
of Marion County) is a Lake Sellers. It is probable both of these
locations were Sellers homes.
Halford Field was located south of the cemetery and some current maps
still show a Halford Lake. Halford Field was subdivided into Woods and
Lakes Subdivision. The five arms of Lake Halford were each given a
separate name when it was subdivided. Over the years the water has
become so low that only years with much rain can one traverse the
entire five arms of the original Halford Lake.
The original Pillans and Mock families lived on New Road which is a
dirt road going west off of 314-A across from the Electra School, This
New Road is about a half mile south of Electra Cemetery, just south of
the Moose Lodge. It is believed that the Pillans owned land on both
sides of 314-A.
Daniel Isaiah and Elinor Baker Fort, parents of Allen Baker Fort, lived
south and west of the cemetery but off the road (off of 314-A) on New
Road. Perhaps the original Fort home is designated by the Fort Bear
Hole that is still on the maps of Marion County just east of Moss
Bluff. It is known that Daniel Isaiah Fort parents settled in Moss
Bluff in 1851/53. Each
of the sons and the daughters and their husbands purchased nearby
homesteads, Daniel moving four miles up the road from Moss Bluff to
Daniel Isaiah and Elinor Baker daughter, Mary Jane Fort, married
and purchased their homestead, which is the property where Electra
Cemetery is now located. Daniel Isaiah Fort had died just after 1880
and was buried in the Fort Family Cemetery on his Fort Field located on
New Road. William Bowen died in 1885 and was buried on Bowen Field. His
burial was probably the first burial on the property that became
Electra Cemetery. His widow, Mary Jane Fort Bowen, and their children,
and Mary Jane mother, also
now a widow, moved from the area to live beside Mary Janes sister,
Victoria L. Fort, in Columbia
County, Florida. Therefore, neither wives were buried in Electra
Cemetery. Daniel Isaiahs
tombstone was found and has been moved from Fort Field into Electra
The earliest date of death on a tombstone in the cemetery is 1887 on a
Waters grave. But we know William Bowen was buried there in 1885
without a stone. In 2004, Nettie Geneva Bowen, a granddaughter of
William Bowen, purchased and placed a stone in the cemetery for William
Bowen. Some folks have thought the Pillans began the cemetery. Others
say the families just began the cemetery on forest land. But the forest
was not created until 1908. This would have been 23 years after 1885.
According to Marion County land records, the cemetery was begun on land
owned by William Bowen.
It is remembered by various people that the following homes had their
own private cemeteries: Griggs, Fort, Mock, and Sellers. At least one
descendant of the Sellers family remembers a grave being moved into
Electra Cemetery when the Sellers property was sold outside the family.
The Griggs Cemetery still exists at Griggs Field.
Ocala National Forest was created in 1908 and at that time the Federal
government bought up all of the land that folks would sell. The areas
that are still privately owned are lands where the owners refused to
sell. Thus, the Halford homestead property is still privately owned,
some of the Hudnell property, some of the Fort property. But most of
the original homesteads are now part of the Ocala National Forest. That
is the reason the beautiful little community of Electra did not
There are between 30 and 35 graves in Electra Cemetery with no
tombstones. Twenty-one have been identified. In 2003, funds were
donated by descendants and others and engraved granite markers were
placed on these graves. Information will continue to be collected on
the early families of Electra and we would appreciate hearing from
anyone who can add to, or correct, any information presented here.
By studying the lives of our ancestors buried in Electra Cemetery, it
replays for us in a small way what life was like for them in this
community with its lovely name, Electra. Keeping in mind that Florida
is now on its fourth cut of timber, imagine the large trees that were
here when our earliest families arrived. We think the people who made
Electra their home, with its many beautiful lakes and rivers, chose
some of the most beautiful land in the World. We honor these early
settlers by keeping their memory and their resting place a part of our
present lives and by teaching all of their descendants the tradition of
preserving this part of their history.
Rose Marie Barker Nations
13033 SE 158th Lane
Weirsdale, FL 32195
17 March 2005