Monday, December 28, 2009

Selling what the dead leave behind

A interesting and somewhat sad story in the L.A. Times about what happens when you die without a will or heirs in L.A. county.Here is the link,0,757874,full.story I was surprised at some of the names cited, especially Danny Federici,memeber of Springsteens E Street Band.You would have thought that someone that famous and who knew he had melanoma would have had a will.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Family health issues have kept me away of late.I hope to begin posting again regularly after new-years.Dead man Talking had asked for a close-up of the sheriffs headstone at San Juan.I apologize for the quality of the photo and wish I had taken a picture of the back as well as it had more info. on it.Next time. Deez over at Cemetery Explorers,thank you for the award and I will post up soon!I am jonesing for cemetery time!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I like the contrast of the timeless hills, aged grave markers and new asphalt.One of the oldest parts of the San Juan Bautista Cemetery.There may be upwards of several hundred unmarked burials in this cemetery.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

If you have preconceived notions of lush lawns and orderly rows in a cemetery then the San Juan Bautista cemetery is going to disappoint you.California gets no rain for 6 months or more of the year and even though all around the hill this cemetery rests on are irrigated fields and some of the best farmland in the world there are no sprinklers here.I think it makes perfect sense.And if you are offended by gaudy,unconventional displays of affection and love in a cemetery-prepare to be offended.What you will also see here is some of Californians rich,early history and family's that still care for the graves of relatives dead a hundred years.The dead do have the best view in town.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Maria Priscilianna Arroyo 1846-1935

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.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Society for The Unendowed

I was recently contacted by a Seana Miracle.She asked me to forward information about this organization and website on to anyone I thought might be interested looking at it I am very pleased to offer it for your pleasure.If you have any interest it grave decoration,preservation of cemetery's , and the rich cultural history of the Indigenous and Hispanic peoples of the American southwest I think you will enjoy the photos and information therein. I hope Seana becomes a Graveyard Rabbit as I feel this site belongs with the Rabbits.It is my personal belief,and I know it has been expressed by others,that some of the decline in respect for and involvement by the community in our cemetery's is linked to the "cookie cutter" commercialization of the modern American cemetery. In cemetery's were people are encouraged to honor the lives of their loved one's in personal ways, not just "mark" their deaths, people respect,care and remain involved in their cemetery's.Please make sure you check out the story of Horace MCafee in the East section of the website,Chilili, San Juan Nepomoceno Cemetery NM. it is good reading for anyone who cares about our cemetery's.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

This is one of the neatest "tree style" gravestones I have seen yet.I really like the way they made the hole in the tree for flowers!Unfortunately,the concrete had flaked off were the name and dates were,though I thought I could see died in January?It's very possible the historical society has a record of who is buried here.I just found it very cool.This one was in the Protestant part of San Juan Bautista Cemetery.

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 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?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Normal Returns

You don't know how good boring can be till life gets complicated for awhile.I have really missed writing in my Bloggs but just could not find the time or energy.My hubby is on the road to recovery and back to work,Yah! My job is not really calmed down yet but I think I can handle that if people will stop getting sick,it has been a bad year for illness it seems among those I know and love. On the cemetery-genealogy front I have some news. I have stolen a Saturday off on a holiday weekend-rare for my job-and I am going to a meeting of the San Juan Bautista Historical Society this coming Sat..The best part?I will of course go to the cemetery were I have recently learned one of my ancestors is buried.In a grave with a headstone!A real grave,not under the road,not under the parking lot,not in the neighbors back yards,but a real grave with a headstone and name and everything!When the lady sent me the email and told me that you would have thought I won the lottery!This grave is even maintained by other decendents of this woman!And I will get to meet them at this meeting and BBQ.Road Trip! San Juan and the mission are very special places,I loved them even before I knew how much of my family history was tied to them and the cemetery is a treasure.I look forward to posting pictures from it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

The detail work on this headstone is amazing.I need to go back for better pictures.Many of the earliest graves in this small cemetery in Rocklin Ca. are of natives of Finland.It is interesting the variety and number of immigrants in the early burials in foothill cemetery's.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Living and the Dead

I write about cemetery's,the dead and death,I enjoy what I do.But life,and the living, come first.Today was my day off.A rare one in that I am getting two days in row off.And the weather was cool enough that being outside for the day in the heat was not likely to cause me to join my photo subjects unexpectedly.I should go south I thought,down valley to visit family and family graves but I could not bring myself to take the 3 hour plus drive,leave early,stay overnight.I'm tired from work and duties at home and just could not work up the energy to go.
That's one reason I was looking forward to this day I planned.I was going to spend the day driving around the gold country,visiting old graveyards,taking pictures..Get out of the city,away from responsibilities,get something new to share on here.No deadlines,no company that did not want to be doing what I was doing.
But sometimes life and the living that we love change our plans.Instead I spent the day helping my helpmate through the Kaiser hospital system.A leg pain that was at first ignored turned out to be something you don't want to ignore-a blood clot.He is home with meds and under my watchful eye.I'm glad I was here and not up in the hills or down valley,maybe the ancestors whispered in my ear,"stay home,we will be here,waiting".The living first,the dead will wait for me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Local cemetery's suffer theft,vandalism

Here is a link for a local(Sacramento CA area) news story and video on theft and vandalism at two local cemeteries.I have to agree with lady in the video,these people can not have ever had to bury someone they loved to do these things to the dead and their loved ones.Most likely it involves supporting a drug habit as most small time theft seems to these days.I feel horrible for the family's and caretakers who have to deal with being violated like this and hope they can catch the people doing it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Assistant state fire Marshall,Loving mother of seven.
"Forever in rolling hills and daffodils."
Rocklin Cemetery,Rocklin,CA

Friday, August 7, 2009

TIME article on unclaimed bodies

I caught a blurb on our local news the other day about how the number of unclaimed dead had gone up at the local coroners office.This article in Time says it is happening everywhere.,8599,1914780,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-full-nation-related Family's just can't afford to bury their dead.It's very sad but I can understand completely.I know we are supposed to plan ahead and save for this inevitable day but you have to wonder a bit these days how do we do it all?We are supposed to save for your retirement,pay for your own medical,pre-pay for your funeral,save for the kids education,save some more for your retirement and medical costs as you get older because it's not enough.So what are you supposed to live on now?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Jared Sheldon was granted the Mexican land grant for Rancho Omochumney inJanuary1844.The land grant was surveyed for the Mexican government by a young surveyor living in Monterey,William Tecumseh Sherman.He split the grant with his friend William Daylor and together they build successful Ranches on the Consumnes river.Before Sheldon could apply for a land grand he had to convert to Catholicism,take a Mexican name,become a Mexican citizen and find the land.Then improvements had to be made on the land within a year.Jared Dixon Sheldon,a native of Vermont,was killed by miners in a dispute over the flooding of mining claims.He rests in the historic Sloughhouse cemetery in Sloughhouse California.It is hard to believe these huge millstones were brought all the way from Mexico but they were.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Peculiar and Promiscuous Methods of Burial in Early Mission Days

That is the title of the this article in the Sept.28 1885 edition of the Santa Cruz Daily Surf.I don't know that I have heard the word "promiscuous" used in relation to a cemetery before!
The article further says that the excavation for the walls of the new church "revel a subsoil composed of about equal parts of adobe,decayed coffins, and dead Indians"."A promiscuous lot of "remains" of Spanish and Indian origin,buried in the most heterogeneous manner possible to imagine".Big words for the time and place wouldn't you say?That there were over 3 thousand documented burials in a area of less than a quarter of acre.It was a crowed place no doubt!
The article further states"some of the redwood coffins are in a astonishingly good state of preservation,but the mortality contained therein has resolved itself to brown mold and a few detached bones."I have to wonder why would you open a coffin that is in a good state of preservation?And why would the church allow such a disturbance of the dead?
"Some of the coffins are of very creditable workmanship and adorned with crosses formed of silver headed nails."
It talks of a mass grave of 15 buried without coffins that was supposed to be from a smallpox epidemic.Then goes on to mention several Indian burials;"Two stalwart skeletons in possession of aborigines of some dignity and importance in their day.Their skulls are of capacity sufficient to protect a liberal supply of brain matter, and they carried to the grave with them long strings of beads and shells and there are indications that pipes and other articles now impossible to identify were also deposited with them."
A very different time and place.All of them,native Indian,Spanish settlers,Mexican immigrants,Irish loggers and those first white men who "jumped ship" and stayed, were scooped up and hauled to the new cemetery,six wagon loads.Reburied together in what is now the Old Holy Cross cemetery
There they rest in a little open meadow.Unmarked and mostly forgotten by everyone.I was glad I found out about this place and I really enjoyed visiting a learning about it.I can't wait to go back.Maybe I will take some flowers,and say the names I know out loud,to remember.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

"I had fun everyday of my life."
"Snook" Silva
St. Vincent De Paul cemetery,Rancho Murietta CA.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

I could not read the dates myself on this.A transcription on Findagrave list the last name as Wade on both markers and a date of 1879 born and died ,Tena Wade,on the only legible one to them.This was in the Sloughhouse Pioneer Cemetery,Sloughhouse CA.I would say a third or more of the legible stones in this cemetery are for children.Very interesting place.Crazed commuters,tourists and logging trucks zipping by on a two lane road a few hundred yards to one side.On the other side farm land,cattle lowing in the fields, a farm cat running down the dirt road with a gopher in his mouth, a huge Swallowtail butterfly drifting by my head several times as I took photos.Pyramid Peak and the Sierras vanishing in the heat haze to the east as the temp. crept towards a hundred plus.Past and present together.Summer in the valley.

Friday, July 24, 2009

August GYR Carnival:Favorite Photo

This was tough for me because I always think my favorite photo/best photo is still ahead of me somewhere but that's a personality problem I have.I dream of taking pictures in Oaxaca on Dia de Muertos, of New Orleans and London,the old burying grounds of the North Eastern U.S. and New Mexico. I am sure if I ever get to visit them there will be wonderful graveyards and headstones to photograph, but for now my home is California and this is what I see. Most of my ancestors lie in unmarked or mass graves ,even those who may have had the money for a nice marker at the time of burial. This photo is of a unreadable marker in the San Juan Buatista Cemetery in San Benito Co. CA This cemetery was dedicated in the early 1840's as "the Mission cemetery could hold no more". There are a number of these old wooden markers that survive and many other old graves.It is here that my great,great grandmother Maria Teodora Garcia would have attended her mothers funeral when she was 13 years old.I believe her father is buried here as well,he died when she was 10,murdered,"three leagues from the Mission".He was the son of the first non-Indian child born west of the Mississippi. Behind and below this hill the cemetery is on, runs the San Andres Fault.In 1809 the first San Juan Mission and all buildings for miles around were leveled when there were earthquakes for 9 days. These and others of my family rest here.I like to look at this marker and think it might belong to one of them,this is my favorite photo.This is my California.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

St. Joseph Cemetery,Sacramento CA

Monday, July 20, 2009

Seeking Room For The Dead

With all of the negative news about the cemetery employees at Burr Oak in Illinois and the awful things they have done,this story in the New York Times provides a wonderful counter point.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grave Robbers

With all the recent publicity about the Burr Oak Cemetery in Illinois and the terrible things done for profit there I thought I would share the following article.Grave robbing is nothing new but it is the scope of the crime at Burr Oak that has appalled so many people-and maybe the idea that we should be better than that by now.
These articles are in the January 13 and 16,1903 San Francisco Call newspaper
Grave robbers broke into the tomb of Donna Maria Pico, wife of Pio Pico, the last Spanish (actually,Mexican)Governor of California a few days ago and removed the remains, which had beers buried for nearly fifty years. The well preserved skeleton was found by a boy this afternoon in old Calvary Cemetery, fifty feet from the Pico family vault. All the flesh had fallen from the bones, but on the hands, which were folded over the breast, was found a pair of gloves, and shoes and stockings encased the feet.
It is supposed that the vandals expected to find valuable jewels on the body, as the Picos were wealthy at the time of the death of Donna Maria in Santa Barbara in 1854,but if they obtained anything there is no evidence of the fact. The body rested In a niche in the vault, protected by a marble slab, on which were inscribed her maiden name, Maria Ignacia Alvarado, wife of Pio Pico, and a verse in Spanish. Inside of a hermetically sealed box rested the coffin, richly trimmed with gold and silver fringe and lined with silk, while the body was clad in rich laces, velvets and satin, all in a good state of preservation. The remains had been embalmed, which accounts for- the good condition of the skeleton. Old Calvary Cemetery has been abandoned for many years and is in a state of dilapidation. Many of the early Spanish families used it as a burial ground but a large portion of the bodies have been removed. Don Pio Pico's body, which rested be side that of his wife,was not molested

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tombstone Tuesdays

This is in Old Holy Cross,Santa Cruz CA To me it appears that a older stone that was broken has been set in concrete?I don't really understand the way the grave is covered with a tunnel though.I can see sealing the grave site with concrete to stop vandals, and this cemetery has a history of vandalism, but why the tunnel?If anyone else has seen this or has any ideas about it let me know!Maybe they were going to guarantee she rested in peace!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Writing Your Own Obituary

This was brought to my attention by a thread on by JHofmann I think we can all learn something from this lady's obituary.Not just about writing our own obit though that's a great idea.But about how we look at our own lives and loved ones.I thank her for a lesson I sometimes need a reminder of.How even the small,everyday things count in life. I included both links because online obits don't stay for long and I could use a reread of this one now and then.And the blog 37 days looks interesting too!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Back in a few days,camping, no graveyards sorry to say but fun none the less!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Famous prostitute's gravestone deemed too 'slutty

I confess, I wonder exactly how he was going to present the "two pink marble boulders"
This is a case were "making the memorial about the persons life,not death" Could get a bit-difficult.Though from the article this woman seems to have overcame a difficult life to become a advocate for a group women who are often voiceless.
This again points out the importance of putting your wishes about how you want to be remembered down in writing and letting the people in your life know.If she wanted the pink boulders-I say let her have them!It's just boobs!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

St. Joseph Cemetery,Sacramento,CA

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

This is the grave of Rina Picchi.she was born in Roseville CA. in 1915 and died in 1936.It is in the Roseville Cemetery in Roseville in Placer County.This is a lovely cemetery with a number of nice stones.Rinas is the most elaborate one.I love the way the marble has mottled so it looks like real skin.I was surprised to see so many Italian and Greek names on the early headstones.This was a railroad town,that and ranching were the economy for many years in this area.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Historic Catholic cemetery's upkeep

Lisa Burke over on adventures in Grave hunting has a post that expresses some of my feelings and concerns about older historic Catholic cemetery's here in California and what seems to be a pattern of neglect concerning them.I find it sad the church is failing to care for those who during their lives cared greatly for them.Please read it and I look forward to updates!Thank you Lisa and Louise Gaffney for bringing this to our attention.

Irish Roadside Memorials

Mayo Fan over on Findagrave posted the link to this very interesting site.
I find it interesting that there seems to be the absence of controversy about the presence of these memorials in Ireland.Some even seem"official" or done with the approval of authorities.Considering all the controversy they seem to bring up here what with banning them in some places or with them having to be approved and erected by the local road authorities. We really have become a nation of "only by the book,and only what the book allows".I realize some safety issues have been raised about these memorials but again I would think that could also apply to some of the new digital billboards that are blinding me while I drive!
The older Memorials are particularly intersting!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Shaming the Dead-Facedown burial

Found this over on the National Geographic site.
Interesting that the lead study author Caroline Arcini states that"shaming of the dead is most likely a deep rooted behavior in humankind."It mentions the practice occurring up into the first World War.Most likely with prisoners I would imagine?Information of this sort fascinates me.The why we are and the way we are and how many things are the same all over the world.
Here is a link to the original article in Current Archaeology customs

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Real Deal

Graveyard Rabbit that is! I did a little trip to Roseville District Cemetery this morning and this fellow was "half way galloping among the graves".And Wary Still indeed he was! Racing away from me.

A Tradtion Saved-sort of

This was in the San Fransisco Chronicle today. While it's sad that it won't be staying in the family it's nice the tradition will be carried on by people who care and California can use all the jobs we can get!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Old Holy Cross Cemetery -Santa Cruz CA. Jose Brijido Rodriguez is one of the early Californianos,he was baptized at Mission San Antonio de Padua,his father was a soldier.I believe this lady,Francisca R. Escamilla, in the same plot is his wife but that he was not her first husband as I found a record of her marriage to one of the Castro's.She was baptized at Mission San Francisco de Asisi,her father a soldier of the Presido there.Her parents originally came from Guadalajara.
This family plot is in a sad state but at least they have headstones,very few early Spanish/Mexican Californians do.

Sources- The Huntington Library, Early California Population Project Database, 2006. Photos are my personal property.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Death-the Great Equalizer
The comment about John Calvin gave me a chuckle,talk about spinning in your grave!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

The war to end all wars- we wish. St. Joseph Cemetery,Sacramento CA.

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Upturned Cemetery

From The Santa Cruz Daily Surf Sept. 26,1885 "In digging the trenches for the foundation of the new Catholic Church on Mission Hill, a large number of bodies were unearthed.The bones of many were in a excellent state of preservation.Coffins were found in several instances buried one above the other, the upper one being not more than 1 and a half or two feet below the surface. One of the skulls was about three-eighths of a inch in thickness. In the end of one of the trenches a large pile of bones was found,as though a great many bodies had been buried a t the same time. The results of further excavations will be watched with interest."
Remember not just Indians and Spaniards were buried here.Many of the American pioneer family's of the area were laid to rest in this cemetery as well.California had only been a state 35 years but these people were already forgotten and in the way.One has to wonder at the lack of over site by the church in this matter.They seem curiously absent,other than the mention previously of the Father calling for removal of family at the Sunday service, no mention in any of the articles I have read about the church overseeing or involved in the relocation of the people who first celebrated the Catholic faith here.I have one more article to share about this that says volumes about what happened here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our cemetery's

I would like to provide links to these blog posts.I think they both go a long why in explaining some of why people feel so disconnected from cemetery's today.I feel the sentiments in these posts are echoed in the huge growth of the holiday of Dia de los Muretos.People feel a need to be connected to their loved ones that have died regardless of their religious beliefs or ethnic customs.We as a society are looking for new ways to deal with the loss of loved ones and the way the business of death is handled now is not fulfilling our needs.Please read Joshua Inayat's blog post on his site Cemetery Seeker on the Camp Polk cemetery,
and Dead Man Talking over on Blogging a Dead Horse,were he talks about how the modern funeral business has set up their own demise,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This looks very interesting!

Sharif,a member over on Findagrave(, posted this link. I would like to try this,but my family and friends already think I'm nuts,this might push it over the edge!Might have to sneak into a lonely cemetery during the week and try it!I wonder if it would work through concrete?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Come and get your relatives

The following are excerpts from newspapers in Santa Cruz CA. regarding the moving of the Santa Cruz Mission Cemetery when the new Holy Cross church was built.In case you think this sort of thing only happened in the "old days"here is a link to Julie over at the Graveyard Rabbit of Chicagoland regarding the removal of a cemetery for a expansion of the O'Hare airport.

July 14,1885 The Santa Cruz Sentinel
"Sunday morning Father McNamee requested those having friends or relatives buried in the lot adjoining the old adobe to have them removed within two weeks."
So Sunday morning in church the father tells you to come and get your dead relatives within two weeks.I wonder how that worked out?I mean ,did you go dig them up yourself?Did you automatically get space in the new cemetery?By this time(1885),many,if not most,of the original settlers family's,both Spanish/Mexican and others, had moved away,this being one of the most mobile periods in history. I can not even begin to comment on the Indian burials and the remainders of their family's.Many of the family's in the cemetery would still not have English as their primary language so a newspaper announcement would be useless.
The most telling part of this article is the statement"buried in the lot".This sacred place was no longer Holy ground in the eyes of the powers that be.No longer a cemetery,but a lot to be developed anew.That this "lot" belonged to the church itself,that the people buried in this so called "lot" were the very people who had brought the faith of this church to this land and the peoples who lived here was no longer important.That would be the prevailing mindset in dealing with the California Mission cemetery's and the early settlers who were buried there all over northern and central California in the years to come.
I have some news articles dealing with the mass body removal I will post later.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Pioneer cemetery, Nevada City CA
"Our little angel has gone home to god"
Wilson Burnett Head
age 5 mos and 3 days

Friday, June 5, 2009

The plot thickens-or doubles as the case may be

I received some new information on the traveling nature of my 3rd great Grandmother Maria Euginia Ynes Robles de Castro grave site from the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz county.I had requested a search for a obituary as the society has extensive holdings of early newspapers on film and will do some research for a modest fee.They were not able to find a obit for her.Already by 1867 the lives of the founding Spanish family's were at best reduced to a one line mention and more often not worth mentioning at all.When we do research on our family's it is good to remember that those who were poor,or out of society's(whatever society was the In one of the time and place) main group may not be reported in the news papers and other main records of the time.Often they don't even make it into the census.But it does not mean they were not there.Having baby's,birthdays,party's and fiestas.Living and dying with ceremony and passion as best they could.It just did not make the local news.
Both Ynes and her husband Jose Saturnino Trinidad Castro are listed as buried at Old Holy Cross.As both of their death dates precede the date I have for that cemetery being consecrated I will assume they made the move from the mission cemetery.I need to ask some more questions about the sources for the records the society has and confirm the founding date for Old Holy Cross.They apparently have a compiled records of interments for this cemetery.Now I really need to get back to Santa Cruz and visit the Genealogy room at the main library!The Genealogical society maintains a wonderful collection there and if you have research to do in the area I highly recommend it.
They also were able to send me some of the local news paper stories about the removal of the body's and I will share those in another post.It makes for some eye opening reading.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

I can't always get over to the coast or down valley to explore were my own family rests so sometimes I go visiting in my local cemetery's.I am close to the gold country of N.Cal with its rich history.This headstone is in the little cemetery of St. John the Baptist in Folsom CA. I have been photographing there lately.I had to fight my way into the Oleander bush to get this one.I have to go back so I can get how old he is and what it says on the bottom! Darn leaf!

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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cemeterys-and other people

Spousal support units and graveyards. It’s a delicate thing. “Can we stop at this cemetery since were going to be in the area”? “Okay, who’s there that you’re related to?” “Um, no body I know of.” “So now we just go to any old cemetery and look at any old dead people, not just yours!?!” “Well it looks like a very interesting place! And the art! Think of the art! (Thank god art covers just about anything you can think of these days!)”

Actually, he’s very understanding about my weird ways and obsessions.

Our vacation in April included a 30 mile detour to Old Holy Cross cemetery in Santa Cruz CA.

A bribe of lunch at Gail's deli and bakery in Capitola helped sweeten the deal.And I pointed out how crowded it was at the deli so we had lunch at the cemetery.

He got a nap in the car after lunch and I got to make a visit to a old,often neglected cemetery full of the history of early California.A sad example of how the first settlers have been treated and to photograph the-likely-final resting place of my 3rd great grandmother. Maria Eugenia Ynes Robles de Castro, a woman who's life was lived under the flags of 3 nations.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Campo Santo-holy ground.A good name I thought for a blog about cemeteries and the dead.Especially as I want to focus on my early California Spanish/Mexican ancestors.I am a eighth generation native daughter of Alta California on my fathers side.I have always been interested in family and cemeteries but lately they have been calling for more of my attention it seems. I think it started with the sadness I feel about how few graves there are to visit in my family.Poverty,time and a lack of respect for the early settlers of California have left few tombstones to see.I want to draw some attention to to that.

I know I will venture into other areas though.I like to visit graveyards for many reasons.I have become involved with the website and have become a contributor there.I hope I might be able to include some of my mothers side of my family even though I live far from were any of them are buried.

The holiday Dia de muertos has been a major celebration for me for the last 10 years.So I have many areas of interest in holy ground.