THE "LAKE CITY TOMBS" REVISITED

April 12, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

On March 16, 2008, I wrote a column on "The Legend of the Lake City Tombs." Here is a partial reprint of that column:

"There is a local legend dating back to the 1920's about a man drilling for oil just south of Lake City and accidentally finding the petrified remains of prehistoric men, women and children 65 feet under the ground.

Local people came to call this site "The Lake City Tombs."

The man's name was Edmund Du Mazuel and the location of his dig was just north of the S & S store on US 41/441 South near Columbia High School.

Like all good legends, this story had many elements of intrigue and mystery. Here are five of them:

*Edmund Du Mazuel's real name was Edmund Robillard. Through his marriage to Marchiones Noel Du Mazuel, he acquired her surname plus wealth and royal status.

*Du Mazuel turned The Lake City Tombs into a tourist attraction and built a small empire on the lure of his tombs. One account even said a Romanian princess came to Lake City to see the Tombs and gave him many thousands of dollars to improve the site.

*Some people who didn't like Du Mazuel falsely reported that The Tombs were actually just a cover, that he was really a Nazi Germany spy who used a short wave radio to report to Berlin on any American troop movements on US 41/441.

*Though many locals considered the Lake City Tombs to be a hoax, no less an authority than Lake City Reporter owner /editor Herbert L. Dodd made an on-site inspection in 1928 and wrote, "I am fully convinced that there is no fake as regards to the genuineness of the petrified bodies."

*Edmund Du Mazuel's son, John Du Mazuel (CHS 1938), accidentally shot and killed his older brother Alexander, age 13, with a rifle in 1931. Reportedly Edmund Du Mazuel was so grief stricken that he carried his son's body around in his car trunk for several days, unwilling to bury him, until forced to do so by health officials.

For many years, a writer named Jim Gray (jamesmgray@bigpond.com) has researched the legend of The Lake City Tombs and the Du Mazuel family and is now finishing a book on the topic."

Jim responded to my request for any information he might be willing to share about his book and sent me a disk with a lot of information: reprints of Lake City Reporter articles about The Tombs from the 1920's to the 1980's; photos of the Du Mazuel family, the Tombs, and the archeological excavations; and correspondence with various government institutions.

If you would like to see these records, call me at 386-755-8183.

HISTORIC CELEBRATION

The Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Florida's oldest Lutheran church, will celebrate its 150 years of service on Sunday, April 26, at 10:30 a.m. A covered dish lunch will immediately follow the service. The church is located at the intersection of US 441 and CR 349. Call Wanda Jones at 752-8286 or 755-9419 for further information.

HISTORICAL FLASHBACKS

*1946: Nettie McColskey (CHS 1924) opened The Corner Cupboard Restaurant at the corner of North Hernando and East Duval Streets. The restaurant was an instant hit and prospered in downtown Lake City for over 25 years. Sometimes high profile officials ate there as they were passing through town. Governors Fred Cone, Leroy Collins, Charlie Johns, and Fuller Warren, ate there, and so did Elinor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

*1910 (Circa): Aggie Jones created a garden in north Lake City that was filled with structures made of animal bones and decorated with lush flowers and plants of all kinds. The garden came to be known as Aunt Aggie's Bone Yard. It is described in the book "Aunt Aggie's Bone Yard of Lake City, Florida," by Mae Vinzant Perkins, local poet and writer, who died in 1981 at age 102.

*1965: Construction was begun on the new Lake City Drive-in Theater, located on US 41 south. It had a 52' x 80' screen and a parking capacity of 500 cars.

PERFECT FIT

Did you hear about the man with five legs? His trousers fit him like a glove. square

H. Morris Williams is a local historian and long-time Columbia County resident.

www.hmorriswilliams.com