GSSB CEMETERY OVERVIEW (pdf)
GPS Coordinates: 28.442168, - 80.717102
The Bethel Greater Mount Olive AME Church Cemetery is located at 4725 N Tropical Trail, Merritt Island, FL (north of the 528/A1A highway and causeway, at the intersection with Northgrove Dr). This is considerably north of the current Greater Mount Olive AME Church property, which is south of the causeway at 1240 N Tropical Trail. The cemetery is a historic African cemetery with many unmarked grave sites. There are approximately 80 graves which have been identified in the searchable GSSB database.
The Bethel Greater Mount Olive AME Church does not have a formal website but you can learn more about the church at their Facebook page.
There is a historic marker in front of the cemetery along North Tropical Trail which reads:
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.
(Florida Historical Marker #F-713, Florida Dept. of State, by The Brevard County Historical Commission, 2011)