Saturday, September 12, 2009
My road trip started Friday 9/4.I was going to drive down from the Sacramento area(about 3 hours) to San Juan to visit the cemetery's and attend a meeting of the historical society on Saturday.The president of the historical society,Shelia Prader,who is a professional genealogist also, had told me about my Great-Great Grandmother,Presiliana de Jesus Arroyo being buried in a MARKED grave at San Juan.She also informed me that some of Prisiliana's other decendents would be attending and they would like to meet me!Are sweeter words ever heard by someone doing genealogy?I think not. I have visited the cemetery at San Juan several times both knowing and not knowing I have family there.It is a wonderful place.but this would be the first time I would get to go there and the Mission on my own and spend my time as I liked.My limits this time would be myself.I started driving Friday after working my 8 hour graveyard shift so I arrived about one.It was warm but not the over 100 of the day Since this is my cemetery Blogg I will try to keep to the subject on here.I will have more about the Mission and my genealogy on my other Blogg http://ca-highway99.blogspot.com/ The cemetery is at the right side of the church facing the front.You can only enter through the side door from the inside of the church.And you are only allowed to view the cemetery not walk around in it. The wavy lines carved in the door are found throughout the Mission and represent The River Of Life.The plaster has been removed around the door some so you can see the adobe bricks beneath. The Mission was founded in 1797 and the cornerstone for the present church was set in 1803 with work continuing till 1817.There were over 4000 burials in this tiny cemetery.Indians,Spanish colonists and a few early white settlers.Ascencion Solorzano de Cervantes,the last full blooded Mutsune Indian is buried here.There are no other marked graves visible.The cemetery rests in the deep shade of ancient Olive trees and looks out over the valley.Running under the back wall of the cemetery is the San Andres Fault.Below that runs remnants of the El Camino Real,the kings road, that tied the missions together and was the first main highway in California,this is one of the few places you can see the original road. The next day at the historical society meeting the speaker was Dr. Ruben Mendoza,a archaeologist who has been working at Mission San Juan for 14 years.He was a great speaker,a man truly doing what he was born to do.During his talk he brought up a very interesting tidbit about the mission cemetery.He had interviewed a lady a few years ago who is a lifelong resident of San Juan and was in her 90's.She remembered going to the Mission in the 1920'30's when it was pretty much in ruins.How spooky it was with the sidewalls collapsed.The Mission is the only 3 aisle church of the 21 California Mission churches.The side walls collapsed during the 1906 earthquake.She remembered the ruble and piles of human bones next to the church! Dr. Mendoza belives this may explain how so many burials could take place in such a small space.Old graves may have had the bones removed and place in Ossuarys.There are examples of this practice in Mexico,Latin America and I believe the American southwest.It is a idea I have never heard put forth before and I think bears some investigation.So many of the customs of the Californianos have been lost or glossed over it was exciting to hear something new.Dr. Mendoza also said he would like to know what happened to those bones!If anyone knows he would like to be contacted and so would I! By this time it was around 3 and I was getting tired so I thought I would head over to the cemetery on the hill,snap a few photos of my GreatGrandmothers grave and maybe some others before I went to eat and drove to my motel in Hollister about 10 miles away.I mean, I had a description of where her grave was,that she was buried in the Vaca-Rosa family plot and the cemetery's not that big so no problem,right?