Elfina the Key Deer Memorial (Key West, Florida)

Elfina the Deer Grave Marker
Photo by Peter Dutton

There are something interesting in almost every cemetery, but the Key West City Cemetery has more than its fair share of unique sites. From funny and strange epitaphs, to the Spanish-American War veterans laid to rest next to Cuban cigar makers, it seems there’s a little bit of everything happening in one place.

Among the most touching places in the cemetery is a small marker that would seem not unlike any other if it didn’t happen to be for a pet deer. It may seem odd that a pet Key Deer would be buried in a family plot, or that someone would have a pet Ker Deer for that matter, but this is exactly what has happened. Since Key West, Florida is one of the few places in the United States where “weird” somehow bridges the gap between commonplace, it doesn’t even seem that strange in some way.

The large Otto Family plot not only serves as the final resting place for Dr. Joseph Otto and his family, but also hosts three Yorkshire terriers and the Lovely tribute to Elfina, the domesticated Key Deer that lived her life with them. The memorial to Elfina reads just like she was a member of the family. Listing her birth and death along with the fact that she born in the Everglades and crossed the rainbow bridge in Coral Gables.

Key West City Cemetery is almost directly in the heart of Old Town Key West and is an easy bike ride from pretty much anywhere on the island. cemetery in the heart of Old Town is. The main entrance, and sexton’s house are at the intersection of Angela and Margaret Streets.

Key West Cemetery Facts

  • Key West City Cemetery was established in 1847 following the hurricane of 11 October, 1846.
  • The original cemetery was a 100 lot tract right and expanded by 233 lots a few years later.
  • In 1868 a separate Catholic Cemetery measuring just 300 square feet was created at the corner of Angela and Frances Streets.
  • The similarly small Jewish Cemetery was later created on Frances Street.
  • The Key West City Cemetery reflects “The Rural Cemetery Movement” and was considered to be outside the city when it opened.
  • Between 80,000 and 100,000 people are estimated to be buried in the Key West Cemetery.