Panama City cemetery receives a historical designation

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – City officials unveiled an official Bay County Historic Marker at Oakland Cemetery in St. Andrews Wednesday morning.

The Oakland Cemetery was platted in 1908 by George Mortimer West, who historians regard as one of Panama City’s founding fathers.

His great-great-grandson attended Wednesday’s dedication.

“I just think this is fantastic that people are remembering not just my family but all the other old families that are in here and there are quite a few, you know, early pioneers,” said Charles “Buddy” West.

Arminda Mosher was the first known burial in this cemetery. She was born in 1844 and died in 1895 and historians say it’s a miracle the tombstone withstood Hurricane Michael.

Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen said it is important for residents to be able to know the history of the city.

“What we are doing is we are trying to preserve that history and share that history with others so that they know where we have come from,” McQueen said.

The next step is asking the federal government to put the cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places.

A site must prove it is historically significant and be tied to important figures.

“It’s significant because of the people that are buried here that are pioneers but also George and members of the West family,” said Nancy Hudson with the Panama City Publishing Museum. “We hope to complete the paperwork. We are in the preliminary application process to get it on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Bay County currently has 13 historical sites on the National Register, most recently the Panama City Publishing Museum, which West originally built for his newspaper.

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