This small quiet little cemetery is nestled up on a hill with large moss draped oaks in the most northeastern part of Pasco County, only minutes from both Sumter and Hernando Counties. Harrison and Martha Ann McKinney Slaughter acquired this property from Jessie Sumner on May 20, 1862 owning 120 acres in all. This area and community, around Harrison and Martha's property, became known as both Slaughter and Clay Sink. The name Clay Sink was derived from the fact that there is a clay sinkhole in the area. According to the McKinney Family "In 1873 Martha and Harrison had a child that was born and died. Harrison made a coffin for the infant, put it on his shoulder and told Martha he was going to find a hill for the infant's grave." This would be the start of the Clay Sink Cemetery. Following this Harrison and Martha gave 2 acres for the cemetery and a church. The Clay Sink Missionary Baptist Church was formally organized on February 19, 1897 with twenty-one members, including Serena McKinney; Martha's mother. Elder G.A. Bryant was the moderator in 1904 and erected the first church on the site. The wood framed building served the Clay Sink Baptist Church for many years. There are members of the Bryant family buried here at the Clay Sink Cemetery. In 1956 the church was rebuilt using pine. This building still remains on the property today and is still utilized as a house of worship for the Clay Sink Baptist Church.
(Left) Church service just after the completion of the pine church building in 1956. (Photo courtesy of the Slaughter Family) (Right) The Clay Sink Baptist Church
as it looks today.
With the growth of both the Clay Sink Baptist Church and the Slaughter Community the necessity of a school became evident. Just as Harrison and Martha Ann Slaughter had donated land for the church they did the same for the building of a school house. On September 19, 1885 Harrison and Martha Ann Slaughter deeded a portion of their property to the Hernando County School Board, the school built became known as both the Slaughter and Clay Sink Schoolhouse. (click here to see 1885 school deed) As Pasco County was formed from Hernando County in 1887, the Clay Sink School was transferred and became apart of the Pasco County School Board district. The first Pasco County School Board minutes from September 1887 list the Clay Sink school as school #5 with Thomas Wheeler acting as trustee. According to October 03, 1887 school board minutes, "Mr. Harrison Slaughter appeared in behalf of the patrons of Riverland School No. 30 regarding the appointment as trustees for their School Mr.'s H. Slaughter and Chas Bryant [son of Rev. G.A. Bryant]. Upon motion their petition was granted. The trustees of said school recommended Mr. S. R. A. Kemp to teach the School. Upon motion the formality of an examination was waived and Mr. Kemp was appointed to teach the school under a 2nd class certificate." It is evident that during this time the school was not only known as the Clay Sink/ Slaughter school but it was also known as Riverland.
For 27 years the Clay Sink/Slaughter/Riverland schoolhouse served the community of Clay Sink. In 1912 a new one-room schoolhouse was constructed nearby. In 1915 the building was relocated to the cemetery property using a team of mules and logs to roll the building along. However the property was not big enough to accommodate the cemetery, church and schoolhouse so William Henry and Joanna Slaughter Boyett donated additional acreage. In 1943 the last class was conducted in the old Clay Sink schoolhouse as consolidation of the school system occurred and children were bused to a more central location such as Dade City. Not letting the school building go to waste it was converted into a fellowship hall for the congregation of the Clay Sink Baptist Church. Toady the schoolhouse still serves its purpose of a fellowship hall and remains on the cemetery property where it is maintained and cared for.
As the Clay Sink community, church and school grew so did the cemetery. Many of the original charter members of the Clay Sink Baptist Church and pioneer families of community are interred here. Among those families are: Slaughters, Sumners, Boyetts, Sapps, Robbins, McKinneys, Hardins, Mobleys, Gays, and Weeks. There are five generations of the Slaughter Family buried in the Clay Sink Cemetery. Also interred here are Rev. G.A. Bryant and family and S.R.A. Kemp and family; both families helped in the building of the Clay Sink Community. There are many infants buried here at this cemetery. In the late 1890's and early 1900's Pasco saw the mortality rates rise due to malaria fever, whooping cough, and other diseases of those times. These diseases always attacked the children and elderly first, many time sparing no one. Quarantine stations were established at many of the train depots in the area in the attempt of stopping these diseases from spreading, not knowing that these diseases were caused many times by insect bites. There are many descendants and relations to these families still living in the area and surrounding areas of Pasco County.
There are many graves in this cemetery that are marked with small headstones only containing the individual's names and no other information. There are a number of areas where the ground is sunken, indicating older graves, but at this time there are no records of who lies there. This is one of the older cemeteries in Pasco County and it holds a great deal of history. The Clay Sink Cemetery Association is currently in charge of this property and they do a great job up keeping this cemetery.