According to a reference contained in the Club’s Bodas de Oro commemorative of 1941, the Executive Committee of the club headed by our first president, Ignacio Haya, voted on July 22, 1895, to acquire a parcel of land for a cemetery. A commission of the club arranged for the purchase of the small parcel, measuring 50 feet by 40 feet, in an area then called “Camposanto de Lovengreen” for $ 50 [Bodas, Pg 18]. Later, in 1904, the Club decided to purchase another parcel of land contiguous to the popular cemetery of “College Hill” [Bodas, Pg. 27]. Apparently in that same year on November 15, the club’s Executive Committee, in a special meeting, decided to accept an offer of sale from an owner of land that was contiguous to the parcel purchased earlier that year. The new parcel measured 300 feet by 285 feet, encompassing about 2.0 acres in size [Bodas, Pg. 69].
Burials commenced soon after the purchase of the cemetery site in 1904. The cemetery registry of the Club suggests that Sr. Pascual Franco holds the distinction of being the first club member to be buried in “El Cementerio Viejo”. His remains lie in the Northwest quadrant, Section 1, Plot 96. Interestingly, the registry lists a couple of burials before the land was acquired. It is not clear if these individuals were moved from the original small parcel purchased in 1895 or if they were moved from some other cemetery or if there are errors in the record. In any event, the cemetery of the Centro Español was one of the earliest cemeteries in Tampa and possibly the first one in the United States devoted exclusively to the immigrant community from Spain.