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.