The Florida Keys are a fantasy destination spot these days, but way back in the late 19th and early 20th century the area was a bug-infested, disease-riddled swamp, avoided by all but the most intrepid, or desperate. Early settlers scratched out a living by running ferries or fishing.
Three families lived on what is now Islamorada Key: the Pinders, the Russells, and the Parkers. They buried their dead in a small cemetery on the beach; nowadays that would be against the law, since it would contaminate the beach and the water table. But it sure is a beautiful place to rest.
The grave of Etta Dolores Pinder, especially, has a lovely white marble angel overlooking it. Only the angel has a broken wing.
In 1935, one of the worst hurricanes to ever hit the United States pounded the keys, causing heavy damage and great loss of life. The angel in the Pioneer Cemetery was blown by the powerful wind over 1000 feet away to land on the Overseas Highway, which is now called US 1. And that’s how she broke her wing.
The angel was returned to her place in the Pioneer Cemetery, damaged but wiser.
And what sort of angel do you want protecting you? Once who enjoys a beautiful, tranquil beach with no concerns? Or one who has actually experienced the wrath of this world, and has been battered, and now knows how to guard?
The people of Islamorada are lucky, indeed.
The Pioneer Cemetery is now on the property of the Cheeca Lodge but you can still visit without charge just by telling the guard at the gate you want to visit the historic site. The address is Mile Marker 82 Oceanside, at Cheeca Lodge, Islamorada, Florida Keys