Winter Park cemetery searches for missing plot owners

About 50 families sought via advertising

WINTER PARK, Fla. - More than 50 plots at the Palm Cemetery in Winter Park that were sold decades ago still lay vacant today, and now the search is on for their owners.

The Palm Cemetery spans 17 acres and has existed since the late 1890s, and dozens of cemetery plots were purchased from the 1910s to the 1940s.

"We are looking to find these families to see if they are aware of the spaces and if they want to use them," said cemetery manager Janna Baumann.

The cemetery is advertising to track down the missing plot owners.

"We use a lot of the genealogy research because most people are doing family trees, so we are using those websites to track down families," Baumann said.

Plots currently cost about $5,000 at the cemetery, but were initially purchased for about $100 for six spaces.

As the cemetery start to fill up, each empty plot could mean cash for the city, if resold.

"Palm Cemetery still has about 1,000 plots left, but we estimate that could be about 20 more years worth of sales, so we are starting to look at other options for expansion," Baumann said.

State law says the cemetery must notify the families and then wait at least 120 days, but the cemetery says it is in no rush and plans to wait more than 10 years, if necessary. 

Baumann said she's already found one of the missing families whose children plan to use the plots purchased decades ago.

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