Last time I talked about going to the cemetery at San Juan to see the grave of my GG-Grandmother Prisilliana(or Presalina) Arroyo Ruiz de la Mota after a night of work and a three hour drive. I had directions to find the grave"there are trees dividing the catholic part of the cemetery from the Protestant,she is buried in the Vacca-Rosa family plot,they just redid the concrete work there". That is what I HEARD on the phone.A hour and a half later after stumbling around every tree in the cemetery(thank god there are not that many!),hiking up and down the hill(it's steeper than you think!) in Tevas,(don't recommend them for soil that has not seen water in 6 months on a steep hillside-this is California and a Ag area-we don't waste water on grass.) I was nearly in tears and for sure could say there was no one named Vacca-Rosa buried in the Catholic cemetery at San Juan.Exhausted,I gave up after nearly sliding down the hill on the only pine cone in the cemetery.I went to my motel in Hollister and hoped my new cousins could help me out tomorrow at the historical society meeting.I would beg if I had to.I had to see her grave. The next day I was rewarded.I met my cousin Linda and her dad Ken.Ken is 85,works 2 days a week for 5 hours as a gardener to "keep busy".Ken met Prisilliana Arroyo,his Great-grandmother,my GG Grandmother as a boy.All he remembers is she was very old,blind and spoke nothing but Spanish!He was 10 when she died .I was honored that he took me to show me her grave.And I learned several things I would not have known without his guidance. She is buried in the Vaccarezza family plot(so much for Vacca-Rosa!)that he himself recently recovered with concrete.Well,she sort of is,while we were there he explained.The row of cypress trees that originally were the dividing line between the Catholic and Protestant sections of the cemetery are long gone.Not even there stumps remain.Prisilliana's grave was on the Catholic side of the trees,her daughters family on the Protestant side.As no remaining traces of her grave or marker remained when the concrete was poured a new marker was laid in it with her daughters family.She is actually buried above the head of the plot.And the marker has the incorrect death date!It is off by ten years,confirmed by her death certificate. I finely have a grave site and marker though for a family member.What a life she lived.I can only imagine what she thought of all the changes in her lifetime.Born when the state still belonged to Mexico,she lived through some of the most tumultuous times our state has know.Outlived my Great Grandmother,her daughter by over 20 years.Did my father ever meet her?My 86 year old cousin Emma confirmed for me that the family in Hanford did know about her so I know my father was aware of her. Presilliana was married three times in her life,she is buried under her maiden name of Arroyo,something I am finding rather common with early California women.I have to thank all my new-found cousins for their help and warm greetings.They have made this picture in a cemetery possible for me.It is one I treasure.I also treasure meeting Kenny and Linda and Kenny showing me his Great Grandmother,Grandmother, and parents grave-sites.And were he will be buried when the time comes.Truly,a family of California and Old San Juan.It was a blessed day for me.
Presilliana's marker is first on the left.She is buried above the plot.
Alfred Walter Stark--Photographer Extraordinaire
5 weeks ago