In the late 1800s Indian Spring Cemetery came into being along the
banks of Alligator Creek in Punta Gorda, and is the second oldest
cemetery in the county. Its original name was Creek Cemetery, which
later became Pineapple River Cemetery, and was eventually changed by
the county to Indian Spring Cemetery for historical reasons. Archaeological
evidence shows that Native American people who lived there
used the spring as a source of drinking water.
A Punta Gorda City Councilman named James L. Sandlin donated the
land from his family’s farm. There are 2,500 documented graves there
and many more that are not. At least 380 veterans who served in the Civil War (including confederate
and union soldiers), the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War
and the Vietnam War are buried there.
Also buried in 1926, in Indian Spring Cemetery was noted Floridian Albert Gilchrist. He was a
surveyor in Punta Gorda in 1886, when the land was first platted. He eventually became governor
of Florida in 1909.
Some of the oldest burial plots carry names such as “Peabody McLane,” “Baby Sumner Cook,”
and some more familiar Gasparilla Island names such as the last names Whidden, Coleman, Lowe,
Futch and Silcox.
Strange lights and noises have frequently been heard, and many people have reported the strong
feeling of being watched. Others have reported seeing small orbs of light dancing around the headstones,
have heard babies crying and the sounds of dogs fighting. One witness just this year reported
strange voices whispering, the sound of a woman weeping and saying, “I won’t let her die,” and a
small, shadowy figure running around the headstones.
Long ago it was a free burial ground and
there are many unmarked and mass graves in
a section called Potter’s field. There is also a
section of children’s plots called “Babyland,”
which sustained a lot of damage during
Mary Leah Sandlin lost her life in 1909,
after accidentally dousing herself with
kerosene. Her headstone at Indian
Springs Cemetery in Punta Gorda lies
next to her parents’ tombstone. That
family lost two more children to
tragic circumstances as well, and the
location of one infant grave marked
“Sandlin” was not recovered until in
the last decade.
Ironically, it was the same Sandlin
family who donated the land for the
cemetery to the county.
The cemetery is located at
5700 Oakview Ln,
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
September/October 2018 GASPARILLA ISLAND 55