The Southland Trail Cemetery, previously known as the El-Jobean Cemetery, is located approximately 1.5 miles from the Myakka River on the Doolittle Waterway between Mc Clellan Avenue and Black Avenue.
The location of this cemetery is of significant importance as it lies along an old wagon trail that ran from what is now U.S. 41 to the riverside settlement of "Southland" (established in 1887) now known as El Jobean. The cemetery rests near an early railroad - the Charlotte Harbor & Northern Railroad (established in 1905) and a huge turpentine still near the Southland Railroad Depot.
Prior to the establishment of Southland, local stories are told that Spanish-Indian fisherman may have found their final resting place in this area as early as 1760. It is thought that throughout the 1770s, a Spanish Mission was established in the area to tend to the spiritual needs of fishermen and to convert the Indians. The Mission would have included a burying ground.
From 1877 - 1923 prisoners were leased to railroad, turpentine and lumber companies to provide labor. Unmarked "convict" cemeteries were common in Florida during this time and the Southland Trail Cemetery is most likely the final resting place of leased convict laborers, many of whom suffered and died from harsh punishment, malnutrition, fire, accident or disease. Several Charlotte County residents remembered visiting convict labor camps in the early 1920s before they were outlawed in 1923.
According to local residents, Black Americans continued to use the cemetery until approximately 1966. Early markers were made of wood and quickly deteriorated leaving no burial records.
In 1994, the Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners accepted the El Jobean Cemetery from Atlantic Gulf Communities Corporation as a gift to the County. The cemetery is a historical site only and unavailable for burials.
Volunteer groups interested in local history, beautification, preservation and archaeology are vital to historical cemetery preservation. If your group or organization would like to Adopt-A-Cemetery please contact Keep Charlotte Beautiful at 941.764.4390.