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Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee, Florida

The Murat Grave Site

When I lived in Tallahassee, I used to stroll through the historic old city cemetery on Sunday afternoons in the fall where many illustrious Floridians were buried. Prince and Princess Murat are buried here, as well (shown below).

Of all the places in the United States, Tallahassee, Florida, is probably the last you would expect to find a member of the Bonaparte family buried. Prince Achille Murat was the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and the son of General Jochaim Murat, King of Naples, Italy, back in the days of individual city states.

In the 1820s, Prince Achille Murat settled in St. Augustine in Florida and later purchased a large estate near Tallahassee, which he named Lipona. Murat lived in Tallahassee for the rest of his life, serving in the local militia and reaching the rank of a colonel. In 1824, he was elected alderman of Tallahassee, and then the city mayor in 1825. The following year he married Catherine Willis Gray, the great-grandniece of George Washington, thus making an incongruous connection between Washington and Napoleon.

Murat died in 1847 and was buried in Tallahassee. Emperor Napoleon III provided his widow, Catherine Murat, with a large pension until her death in 1867. Catherine was buried next to her husband in Tallahassee and her siblings erected a monument in her memory.

The Murats’ story meant nothing to me in those years, however, having never heard tell of them. I had no idea that Napolean Bonaparte had had any connection to Florida. He didn’t, actually. Friends from my parish, St. John’s Episcopal Church, told me the story and challenged me to search for the Murat grave sites, since I lived in that area between the church and Florida State University. So I did. I was particularly impressed with the pink marble baronial arms set in the surround, appearing rather faded in this photo below. Now, I challenge you, my readers, to go find it if you ever find yourself in this historic part of Old Florida.

Old Florida Peninsula

“Glades Silhouette”, 30×40, oil painting, ca. 1946

This painting by the late A. E. “Bean” Backus of Fort Pierce, Florida, was exhibited at Bean’s first Fairchild Tropical Garden’s show in 1946. This view is like much of the scenery on the Kennedy Space Center (which is in the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge).

~ from the 2001 book “Southern Skies, Gentle Breezes, The Artistry of A.E. Backus” Sherry and Glenn Firestone

More October Stuff . . .

Pumpkin Apple Baked Beans

Just in time for a chilly October weekend, here is a recipe I found on PBS Foods for a hearty meal while the sounds of college football play in the background.

  • 6 cups cooked white navy beans or great northern beans (about 2 cups / 1 pound dry beans)
  • 1 cup of bean cooking water
  • 1 apple cored and cubed
  • 3 cups peeled pumpkin flesh
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (or 1/2 cup tomato sauce)
  • 1 small head of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cups sweet apple cider
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Soak the dry beans for 12 hours, making sure there is at least 3 inches of water above the beans. Drain the beans and place them in a saucepan filled with enough water to cover 2 inches above the beans. Simmer the beans on medium-low heat for 1 to 2 hours, until tender and fully cooked. Drain the beans but reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  2. In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, sautée the onions in the olive oil until soft and translucent. Turn the heat to low and add the tomato paste, molasses, honey, dijon mustard, minced garlic, and pumpkin purée. Cook for a few minutes, stirring well until smooth. Whisk in the apple cider and add the beans and reserved cup of cooking liquid. Mix well.
  3. To cook the beans, you can either simmer them on your stovetop on low heat or bake them in the oven at 300F. Cook them for one hour, and then add the chopped pumpkin, chopped apple, and the butter. Cook them for another 1 to 2 hours, or until the beans have reached the desired consistency. If you prefer your baked beans to be very thick, you can remove the lid for the final hour of cooking so that more liquid evaporates (in which case give them a stir every now and again to make sure they don’t burn at the bottom). In the last hour, you can add the salt and pepper and make any flavor adjustments needed.
  4. Serve warm.

In Remembrance . . .

r. Queen Elizabeth, a grandiflora c. 1953
Rosemary offficinalis

“Rosemary for Remembrance”

Sprig of Myrtle

Ancient symbol of happy marriage

English Oak

Strength of love

These are among the foliage, herbs, and late summer flowers featured in the spray spread on top of the casket of Queen Elizabeth II, several of which had been cut from the gardens of the various royal residences.

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