A St. Louis man is the only person who is not an early settler of Destin, Florida to be buried in the city’s first cemetery founded in 1868.
Edward Knapp’s gravestone in the Marler Memorial Cemetery says he was born on August 14, 1871 and died on December 26, 1910.
The Destin Log said “all of the earliest families to settle” Destin are laid to rest there, but Knapp is unique because he is not related to any of them.
Knapp’s gravestone is the second tallest in the cemetery. The Destin Log said the only gravestone taller is that of Leonard Destin, who founded it when he buried his 10-year-old son, William “Willie” Destin, there.
Knapp has ties to Illinois and Missouri. His father was born in 1844 in Illinois and his mother was born in 1853 in Missouri. Knapp was the couple’s oldest child, and he was born in Asley, Illinois and grew up in Westchester, Missouri. Records show Knapp lived in St. Louis beginning in the 1890s and married Cecily Flynn in Clayton on March 2, 1897. The couple then lived in Havana, Cuba at the Headquarters, Department of Matanzas and Santa Clara Hospital Corps; Armed Forces-Foreign Company. Knapp served during the Spanish-American War. After the war, he stayed in Cuba and served as a clerk in the Engineer Department at Large from April 17, 1899 to July 31, 1902 when he was appointed clerk in the classified service (Civil Service) in Cuba. He resigned from his position on November 30, 1910.
In 1909 Edward Knapp’s parents bought land under the Homestead Act of 1862 in Shoals, Florida which is now Miramar Beach. After resigning, Knapp’s family planned to join them and build a home on the land.
Just weeks after Knapp’s resignation, he drowned in the Choctawhatchee Bay between Santa Rosa and Shoals. An affidavit from William T. “Billy” Marler says Knapp fell off of a motorboat while moving furniture to his home in Shoals. Billy built Knapp’s coffin and helped conduct his funeral service. “Billy and his son, William E. Marler, both knew Edward and were friends of his and both were at his funeral,” according to The Destin Log.