Monday, June 1, 2009

The lives and history of the early Spanish settlers of California have been pretty much forgotten,ignored or romanticized to somewhere between just silly and downright racist.Sadly, I have found there is as little left of their deaths, as of their lives.
Marie Eugenia Ynes Robles was a infant when her parents sailed into Monterey Bay on the schooner Conception on May 12,1797.Her father was one of the founders of the Villa de Branciforte which would be incorporated into the modern city of Santa Cruz CA.
Inez(the Americano spelling) would marry Jose Saturnino Trinidad Castro,one of the sons of Mariano Castro who walked as a boy from what is now Sinaloa Mexico to then Alta California.
Inez lived her life at Branciforte and at the early California Missions and Presidios with her husband and children.She died in Branciforte June 1,1867 and was buried in the Mission Santa Cruz cemetery.

But she did not stay there.I don't know from my research at this time if she ever had a marker,I may never know.If she did I did not find it on my visit to her final resting place so it may or may not have made the move.Because in 1885 in order to build the new Holy Cross church in Santa Cruz the cemetery for Mission Santa Cruz was dug up and 6 wagon loads of remains were reburied in a unmarked mass grave at what today is Old Holy Cross Cemetery.
Some of the markers were moved and some left behind,my photo taken behind the church shows broken headstones that were left(taken in 2009).

The other picture shows the open meadow at Old Holy Cross cemetery that is the grave site.Where she may or may not rest.Because 6 wagon loads isn't very big.The existing death records for Mission Santa Cruz(there are records missing for this mission) indicate over 200 deaths before 1850,the majority would have been buried at the mission cemetery.How many burials after 1850 is not available easily so I have no idea.That some got left behind is pretty much a given. I kind of hope one of them was my great,great,great Grandmother Maria Eugenia Ynes Robles Castro.Because we do have photo copies of her last will and testament and in them she states she wants to be buried"in the holy Catholic cemetery under the care of the Franciscan monks".
Not that Old Holy Cross cemetery is such bad spot really.I thought it was pretty,much nicer than the new cemetery.The only sadness was the vandalism and some needed repairs.This article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel talks about it visit there in April 2009 showed signs of people trying to clean and repair some of the damage and I did not find it as bad as the article states.I'm a sucker for cemetery's that are not sterile.No one wants to see vandalism or neglect but who wants to visit dead people in identical cubicles?I was in contact with a nice lady who forward my name on to some people who are trying to organize to help Old Holy Cross get the help it needs,I hope they get back to me.I really want to go back and spend some more time there exploring and taking pictures.
Sources for information.
Inez Robles Castro Will -part of the Leon Rowland collection,U.C. Santa Cruz
The Huntington Library, Early California Population Project Database, 2006.

1 comment:

Lori E said...

It surprises me that a Catholic church would allow the moving of the bodies. Holy ground and all that. That is very sad. What isn't sad is that you are taking steps to help. Good for you.