Espanola Cemetery is an ongoing history lesson in Flagler County.
Twenty mourners pulled into the Espanola Cemetery on Sunday, Nov. 29, to pay respects to Steve “Mac” McAllister, a man 18 of the mourners didn’t know.
Crinolines rustled beneath coal black hoop skirts, veils cascaded past shoulders completely concealing the faces, and dressed in Confederate gray uniforms, soldiers stood at attention on either side of the grave site.
Funeral processions like McAllister’s had occurred before at the ceremony, as was indicated by a nearby marker indicating the resting place of James Raulerson, “Florida, Pvt CO 13 REGT FLA INF, Confederate States Army, 1828-1911.”
The cemetery could have been much like it was when Pvt. Raulerson was laid to rest. Live Oaks draped with Spanish moss, the strains of “Dixie” greeting the mourners.
The couple who truly new McAllister were Pat and Karen Monroe, his executors, and the individuals determined that he would get his final wish as a historian and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“He was such a gentleman,” Karen Monroe said. “He was very quiet and very passionate about Civil War history.”
When the Monroes moved to Florida five years ago from North Carolina, their friend, knowing he would soon succumb to cancer, followed them.
“He didn’t want to be buried in the cold,” Pat Monroe said, choking back tears. “Mac came here (to the gravesite) two months before he died. He liked it there. Mr. Mercer let us intern his ashes on our site.”
Ray Mercer, former Bunnell postmaster and a member of the board of trustees for the cemetery, also attended the funeral.
“They (Monroes) decided they wanted to be buried here when their time comes, with their friend,” Mercer said. “Normally you must be a member of the community, but there are a few exceptions.”
A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, General William W. Loring Camp 1316 in St. Augustine, McAllister was only able to attend a couple of meetings prior to his death in June 2015.
“Mac’s assets at the General William Loring camp were never fully experienced, but will be forever missed,” said Jimmy Edwards, camp adjunct.
Jim S. Davis, Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Florida Division, and 1st Lt. Commander of the Gen. William Loring Camp, spoke not only of the man they were putting to rest, but also of the organization. McAllister was U.S. Marine Corps, having served in Vietnam, followed by a career as a police officer.
“Most of the men here are retired military officers,” Kimbough, a former Navy Seal, said.
The service began with the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag, followed by a salute to the Confederate flag led by Davis.
Keeping with tradition, each lady, members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, was presented with a white carnation to be laid atop the gravesite.
A red shouldered hawk circled the site whistling plaintively. A Native American symbol of spirit helper and guide, the hawk’s appearance seemed on cue for the man few knew, but all respected and admired.