FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -- Jefferson Harris and Jonas Miller were both enlisted in the Union Army in 1863. Both were buried in Fernandina Beach's Bosque Bello cemetery in 1888. It's the final resting place for so many soldiers who fought for freedom. That's why the location is appealing to self-proclaimed history buff, Raye Peck.
"It's fascinating," said Peck. "I'd really like to write a book about living across from the cemetery, the things I've seen."
But Peck says she doesn't like what she's seen over the last month. The city moved grave markers for two African-American Union Army soldiers while a concrete wall was built around an adjacent plot. "To me, that's desecration of a grave. They had no right to do that."
Several local historians spoke out against the move. They were concerned about the preservation of the grave sites. They say the historical markers were not placed back in their original spots. Jonas Miller's stone is believed to be more than three feet off the mark.
Fernandina Beach City Manager Joe Gerrity told Action News, the graves were moved to prevent them from being damaged during construction of the family wall. Gerrity believes they were put back in their proper place but said there is no way to verify their original spots.
"We just don't have records that go back that far," said Gerrity.
Gerrity says the city is forming a group to review future maintenance for the cemetery.
The cemetery was built in 1798. Some local historians believe the first all black regiment of former slaves was recruited to fight for the Union Army in Amelia Island.