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Many thanks to Kathie Marynik for her hard work on finding these articles for Genealogy Trails
(now Quiet Haven Memorial Park Cemetery)

Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 12-16-1993

No Rest for the Dead – Critics Assail Cemetery Neglect, Vandalism Many of the dead are not resting so peacefully at Sacramento's Arlington Memorial Cemetery. At least one casket has been vandalized and dozens of others are noticeably sinking into the wet ground of the old cemetery on Elder Creek Road east of Bradshaw. L. Cuffie Joslin, a member of the state Cemetery Board for 11 years, said she learned about the situation only recently. "I am absolutely furious about Arlington Cemetery," Joslin said. "No one amily members or neighbors - has come before our board to speak to the issue. So I was totally unaware of the problems out there. It's a deplorable situation." The Sheriff's Department estimates the vandalized casket was dug up and torn apart earlier this week, department spokesman John McGinness said Wednesday. It appeared that most of the remains were removed, and a cross and candle placed in front of the grave. "We are inclined to believe it was done in some type of ritual," McGinness said, although experts said the cross was not consistent with those used in satanic rituals. In one section of the cemetery, many of the graves are sinking into the rain-saturated soil. Most of the caskets were buried during the early 1970s, McGinness said, when current safeguards, such as concrete vaults, were not used. Jim Diaz, executive officer of the state Cemetery Board, said Arlington came under the charge of the state board in June 1986 when the owner defaulted on the property. The cemetery has an endowment care fund of less than $25,000, which produces only a few hundred dollars a month for upkeep, Diaz said. "This isn't normal," Diaz said. "The state shouldn't be responsible. It should be transferred to private sector hands." It would cost more than $10,000 to restore the cemetery, Diaz said. Arlington's problems are expected to be brought to the board at its next meeting in February, he said. In the section where many of the graves are caving in, most did not appear to have been tampered with. In an older section of the cemetery, however, nearly all the headstones had been knocked to the ground and several were extensively cracked. The situation at Arlington is not unusual, said Susan Reece, a Sacramento member of The Relatives Urging Sacred Treatments, a consumer watchdog group. "This is unfortunately a commonplace occurrence with the atrocious treatment of the dead," Reece said. "It's happening all across the state and all across this nation. It has been going on in this state for the last 30 years or so." Joslin said the six-member state board regulates most of the cemeteries in the state with the exception of district, religious and some county cemeteries. The board and its staff has not had a full-time inspector since July 1992, Joslin said.


Sacramento Bee, Sunday, 11-20-1994

Cemetery Restoration
A Great Relief To Kin of Deceased – Abandoned; Elements Take Their Toll For decades, the Bellview Cemetery, which sits on a portion of the Arlington Cemetery on Elder Creek Road, was abandoned to the elements, both natural and unnatural. Time took its toll. Since many of the plots, some more than 100 years old, had no vaults, the graves sank, exposing caskets and remains. Trespassers dumped appliances and furniture and used the site as a shooting range. Vandals overturned and broke headstones. And grave robbers, using metal detectors, pilfered the burial sites. In April, when Ray Giunta of Laguna Creek stepped into his new position as executive officer with the State Cemetery Board, he had his work cut out for him. The Bellview Cemetery became his first priority. "I felt it was time we took care of the property," Giunta said. "I feel these people have a right, and that we have a duty to bring the cemetery up to a level of decency and dignity. A lot of people think of cemeteries as macabre places, but they are historical sites," said Giunta. "There's a life behind every stone and a family behind every name." The old county cemetery began burials in 1847 shortly after the land was donated by the Ellis and Bell families. The site contains graves of all types of people, from indigents to the wealthy. Giunta said the place was kept up nicely until a man, whose name he did not know, purchased the 8-acre cemetery from the county in the early 1960s. The man continued with regular burials as well as the burials of indigents, or those who couldn't afford a burial site or had no next of kin, he said. The owner, added Giunta, sold individual plots to the county for the indigents, but instead of burying the dead in individual graves, he placed numerous bodies in the same gravesite. "In one week, the man would bill the county for seven or eight gravesites, but we found later that he had piled all of those remains on top of each other in one grave," said Giunta. The potter's field holds more than 6,000 bodies. "He walked away with $800,000," said Giunta. The man was later convicted of embezzlement and spent four years in the Vacaville State Prison. The property was then sold to a woman living in Studio City, Pauline Rust. "For the past 20 years, she's been an absentee owner," said Giunta. It was during those past 20 years that the cemetery has been abused and neglected, he said. "A lot of the families of those buried here just gave up," said Giunta. "One woman, who couldn't find the grave of her mother for 20 years, came out recently. She thought the headstone had been stolen. We found it, and she was very grateful." Another person who is happy with the restoration is longtime Elk Grove resident Fran Cumpston, whose great grandparents, the Ellises, donated half the land for the cemetery and are buried at the site in a family plot. Last week, Cumpston visited the cemetery after nearly 15 years. She not only located the unmarked family plot, but also was surprised to find another great-grandmother buried there. "I didn't know where she was," she said. Imogene A. Casey died in 1916 at the age of 77. Cumpston was 3 at the time. "I remember the day she died in our front parlor," she said. "My parents hurried me into the back and told me that she had gone to sleep. She was one of the old-fashioned women from Tennessee. She used to sit on the front porch and smoke her pipe." Cumpston said she was delighted to see the cemetery shaping up. "I think this is absolutely wonderful," she said. "I'm thankful they're taking care of things for me. They've done a heck of a lot of work out here. Now I'll go buy more headstones so my kids know where their family is buried." Giunta said the first phase of the project is nearly complete. The entire project is projected to be finished by next spring. Before work began at the site, the cemetery's maintenance was like "putting a Band-aid on a major wound," said Giunta. "We went in and performed major surgery. We've been able to accomplish a lot so far, but we have much more to go. I love that it's coming together." Two hundred yards of dirt and 300 yards of rock were used to fill in the sunken graves. Every day for nearly a month, laborers, many from the county work project program, have been cleaning up the site. Also, numerous community members have donated materials. Giunta wants people to know "that someone cares. If people have loved ones buried here, they can come and find them. There's also still room left in the cemetery, if people want to be buried next to relatives." Last Saturday, about 25 family members converged at the site to help with the restoration effort, but there's still a need for volunteers to participate, especially in resetting the heavy headstones. Individuals or service organizations interested in lending a hand should call Giunta at 296-5578 or the State Cemetery Board at 296-0083.

Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 12-21-2000

Cemetery Cleanup Leads to Mix-Up - Workers Knock Over Old Bellview Headstones; Managers Seek to Correct Problem A 30-year period of mismanagement had things at Old Bellview Cemetery looking pretty grim, but when the new owners tried to spruce things up, they stirred up a storm of criticism. While trying to clean up an area of the cemetery with a small tractor, workers knocked over some headstones, said Valintin Kalinovskiy, the cemetery's executive director. Old Bellview Cemetery is a small portion of Arlington Cemetery which was bought by Bethany Missionary Slavic Church less than two years ago. "We were cleaning up," said Kalinovskiy. The problem was not easily solved, however, because the cemetery does not have an accurate map of where all the headstones belong or where all the bodies are buried, Kalinovskiy said. Critics and cemetery management met Wednesday in an attempt to solve the problem. The two groups are looking for family members of those buried at the old cemetery to come forward and help figure out where the headstones belong. "Unfortunately for them," said Bob LaPerriere, chairman of Sacramento's Old City Cemetery Committee, "they inherited a cemetery with 30 years of problems." The cemetery on Elder Creek Road between Bradshaw and Excelsior roads "had been vandalized, unkempt, and in really poor shape before the Slavic Missionary Church bought it," LaPerriere said. Kalinovskiy said that the number of headstones disturbed by the cleanup efforts had been grossly exaggerated and that most of the displaced stones had been out of place before the church took ownership. "Only two headstones were moved by us," Kalinovskiy said. The cemetery is looking forward to working with the families to correct matters, he said. "We want to work together and do the right thing," Kalinovskiy said. Margie Porteous is one of the handfuls of Sacramento residents who attended the meeting with the church. Porteous said she has many family members buried in the cemetery, including her grandparents and great-grandparents. She was among those upset with the condition of the cemetery. "You would not be happy if you went into the cemetery and found that grave markers were not in the right spot. It is very upsetting," Porteous said. She repeated the call for those with family members buried in the cemetery to come forward to help identify grave sites and eventually rehabilitate the cemetery. She also said there ought to be better laws governing cemetery record-keeping. "There is really nobody to oversee what is going on," she said. LaPerriere said there was no malicious intent on the part of the church. "I don't think the church meant to do anything out of bounds. They weren't aware of how to approach this. They have done some good out there," he said. LaPerriere said he thinks that ultimately more good than bad will come from the situation. "Sometimes it takes something like this to draw enough public attention so some good can come from it," he said. Anyone with a family member buried in Old Bellview is asked to call the Old City Cemetery Committee at (916)448-5665.


Sacramento Bee, Sunday, 10-22-1972

Funeral Homes Move to Acquire Cemetery
Thirteen Sacramento area funeral homes announced they are joining to buy the five-year-old Pioneer Memorial Lawn Cemetery on Jackson Road, one of two local cemeteries operated by the Odd Fellows Lodge. The funeral homes are purchasing the property from Sutter Realty, owner of both Odd Fellows cemeteries, for $250,000, and will share equally in its ownership, according to the announcement. Robert Carnes, owner of Sierra View Cemetery in Marysville, will manage the facility in association with his son Stephen. The new owners will change the name to Camellia Memorial Lawn, install a crematory and modernize the cemetery offices. The Odd Fellows will continue to operate their cemetery on Riverside Boulevard. Listed as the purchasers are the following funeral homes: George L. Klumpp, Harry A. Nauman & Son, Lombard & Co., N. G. Culjis & Son, Miller-Skelton & Herberger, Morgan-Jones, Nightingales’s, Price, Sierra View, Thompson, Davis, North Sacramento, and Cochrane’s. Carnes, the manager, is also an owner and director of the group which has incorporated as Pioneer Management Co.  


Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 5-4-1995

Folsom Seeks Historical Recognition for Its Chinese Cemeteries
The California Historic Commission Friday will consider whether one of Folsom's two Chinese cemeteries qualifies for the National Register. The commission, meeting in Monterey, will review an application submitted by the city of Folsom regarding the Chung Wah Cemetery west of Folsom Boulevard adjacent to Lake Natoma. The application is designed to recognize Folsom's Chinese history. The last burial in the cemetery took place in 1946. "Folsom's Chinese community once contained the houses, businesses, and gardens of hundreds of people," according to an application submitted to the California Historic Commission. "Today, only this cemetery remains as the last visual reminder of a rich heritage and a viable Chinese population that once flourished in town." Attracted by gold, about 3,000 Chinese mined in the Folsom area. The community had a flourishing Chinese district that included stores, restaurants, barber shops, gaming houses, gardens, homes, churches and Chinese association halls, according to a report to the California Historic Commission by Maryln Bourne Lortie, a staff historian with the state Office of Historic Preservation. Chinese miners and laborers found Folsom a desirable location after experiencing racial violence in areas like Roseville, Rocklin, and Penryn, according to an 1878 report in the San Francisco Alta newspaper. Like Placer County, El Dorado County didn't appear to be friendly toward the Chinese. "Our neighbors at Folsom are silent on the Mongolian question, but if El Dorado County should succeed in getting rid of the Chinamen, Folsom will probably welcome them as in the case of the Rocklin drive," a Clarksville correspondent for the Placerville Republican said in an 1886 Folsom Telegraph article. "Our citizens here are talking seriously of boycotting Folsom businessmen if they do not do something to rid the place of the presence of Chinese," the correspondent said. In 1901, a fire wiped out half of Folsom's Chinese district, and by 1920 the Chinese population had declined to 26, Lortie said. While the 2.6-acre Chung Wah Cemetery is being considered for the National Register, Folsom's other Chinese cemetery, Yeong Wo, is being considered for designation as a point of historic interest, a less significant classification. Yeong Wo, adjacent to Lakeside Memorial Cemetery west of Folsom Boulevard and south of Sutter Street, doesn't qualify for the National Register because it hasn't retained the appearance it had in the 19th and early 20th centuries, said Lortie and Cindy Baker, historian for PAR Environmental Services and a resident of Folsom's historic district. "Abandoned as a cemetery in 1912, the lot presently contains a number of modern buildings, playground equipment, parking lot and barbecue facilities, none of which are related to the historic function of the property," Lortie said in her report to the California Historic Commission. Yeong Wo also is surrounded by The Preserve, a new housing development. On the other hand, Chung Wah, also known as Sze Yup and Sam Yup Cemetery, contains many burial mounds and pits where remains have been exhumed, Lortie said in her report to the commission. "Also on the site are brick-lined vaults, the remains of a shrine and a burning pit where the deceased's personal belongings were burned to ensure that they could be used in the afterlife," Lortie said. A Chinese custom, Baker said, was to bury people 18 to 20 inches deep rather than the traditional 6 feet. Exhumers from San Francisco returned to the grave about five years after the death, removed the body, cleaned the bones, and placed them in a container about the size of a thigh bone and return them to the family's home in China, Baker said. Chung Wah's "irregular shape suggests it was haphazardly planned, perhaps beginning with a few Chinese burials and then spreading out as more Chinese died in Folsom over the years," Lortie said in her report. "Graves were dug wherever there was room, with no specific orientation or layout." Vandals desecrated Chung Wah in 1967, Lortie said. Three graves were uncovered, and the coffins were smashed. Bones were left scattered on the ground, and jewelry was stolen and later traced to San Francisco pawn shops, Lortie said. Folsom's Chinese cemeteries are unique in Sacramento County, Lortie said, because all other known Chinese burial sites lie within community cemeteries shared by Asians and non-Asians. The New Helvetia, Elder Creek, and Sacramento city cemeteries contain Chinese sections dating back to the Gold Rush, the report says. Lortie found it unusual that Folsom has two Chinese cemeteries instead of one. The cemeteries were established by people from different areas of China, she said, and representatives of three Chinese factions in Folsom didn't get along with one another. The Chung Wah Cemetery consists of Chinese from the Heungshan dialect group and served the Sam Yup-and Sze Yup-speaking people. Meanwhile, Yeong Wo was established by people from the Chungshan district in the coastal province of Guangdong. If the California Historic Commission recommends that the Chung Wah Cemetery be designated in the National Register, the final decision will be with the keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, Lortie said. The "keeper's" staff approves California's recommendations 99.9 percent of the time, Lortie said. The decision to designate the Yeong Wo Cemetery as a point of historic interest lies with the California Historic Commission, Lortie said, because it would be a state site and not a national site like Chung Wah.  


Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 4-28-1994

Cemetery Thrives – Elk Grove Operation Grows with Times Due to the growth of the south area, decades of sound business practices and, well, the inevitable, Elk Grove's South East Lawn Cemetery has upgraded and expanded to match the community's architectural flair for the modern. "Our forefathers in East Lawn forecast back in the 1950s that Elk Grove would be a major community someday," said Don Hart, president of East Lawn, which owns five memorial parks/ mortuaries around Sacramento, including South East Lawn. "It looks like their prediction was right," said Hart. South East Lawn's 143 acres, which once sat as a forlorn parcel whose only company was State Highway 99, now rests comfortably, pardon the expression, between some of Elk Grove's largest new developments. And on April 8, South East Lawn's eight-person staff moved into a dazzling 13,000-square-foot building that borders the Stockton Boulevard frontage road along Highway 99. "We don't compete in a commercial sense with other funeral homes around town," says South East Lawn manager Rod Noble, lowering his voice, "but we have the nicest place in town now." Certainly a world away from the original building erected on the property in the mid-1960s. By the time services were moved to the new quarters earlier this month, the old funeral home was used for body storage, embalming, preparation, viewing, and religious services, with many of those taking place in the same room. It also served as a mausoleum, chapel, and administrative and sales office, all of this after expansion in 1988. "It was getting really cramped. Of course, it wasn't like we couldn't do our jobs or anything," said Noble. But the new building, which reflects the bright stucco architecture of homes in nearby developments, has plenty of space for all services. There are conference rooms for families, display rooms for headstones and caskets (22 different models), a chapel with CD sound system that can seat up to 180, separate areas for flower arranging and a room where beauticians fix the deceased's hair and makeup. The improvements are not lost on grieving families. "We lost a lot of business at the old facility because our chapel was right in the middle of the (mausoleum) crypts," said Noble. "When they've lost a loved one, people are very, very sensitive to those things." Because the area was so desolate when construction began 30 years ago, the original funeral home was only about 3,000 square feet. South East Lawn today remains the only funeral home south of Sacramento Memorial Park in the Elder Creek area. The new state-of-the-art facility came about, in part, because of Elk Grove's expanding stature as well as its expanded size. "I live just on the other side of Calvine Road and I wish I was on this side because I would be in the Elk Grove zip code," said Janice Martin, a secretary at South East Lawn. "People love Elk Grove because it's a million miles away from Sacramento, so I just tell people I live in the Elk Grove area," said Martin, who commutes five minutes to work. South East Lawn has also benefited from the visibility brought by the 1993 construction of Marketplace 99, an adjacent shopping center anchored by Mervyn's, Raley's, and Ross Dress for Less. And since the funeral home business, like most others, makes money on volume as well as visibility, it didn't hurt when the First Baptist Church opened a huge tile-roofed facility next to South East Lawn last January. "You never try to pry customers in our business, but I will say we've done a few funerals from them (First Baptist Church), and it's because they see our new facility and then come and find out what we have to offer," said Noble, a former free-lance embalmer who has seen for himself what other funeral homes have to offer. Said Hart: "Our success or failure is not dependent, obviously, on retail business being near our facility, but the fact that they are moving in tells us that our physical population base is growing, and that's where our business is." And as Elk Grove has plenty of space for growth so, too, does South East Lawn. Only 13 acres are currently used for burial, with about 50 to 60 percent occupied. Noble says full occupancy of the plots in the entire 143 acres is not in the foreseeable future. "We've seen reports that Elk Grove is one of the fastest-growing areas in California," said Noble. "And we'll just keep growing as the needs of our community grow."


Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 7-7-2005

East Lawn Cemetery Marks 101 Years of History
Cemeteries tend to be low-key places. Some historic places in Sacramento mark a birthday with parades, music and speeches by area people of note. A group of 50 people - mostly members of the Sacramento Historical Society and neighbors - marked East Lawn Memorial Park's 101st anniversary last week with a walking tour. The most famous people in attendance were in the ground. "In 1904, East Lawn indeed was a new concept in Sacramento," said Bob LaPerriere, a guide for the tour and curator of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Museum of Medical History. A private cemetery with perpetual care of the grounds was a new concept, but one that was growing in popularity across the country at the time, LaPerriere said. "As we walk through East Lawn ... recall its 101-year history but also remember that within its confines lie those whose history goes back well beyond 101 years," LaPerriere said. "Back to the Gold Rush, back to the settlement before the Gold Rush, back to the time before white man arrived in this area." The East Lawn cemetery opened in 1904 on what was then 40 acres of farmland west of town. Sacramento had only 30 registered automobiles then. The cemetery was built on some of the highest ground in the area, just like the Old Sacramento City Cemetery was in 1849. But there are many city pioneers in East Lawn, thanks to the relocation of one of the city's early cemeteries. In 1956, the city completed the removal of remains of 5,235 people who were buried in the New Helvetia Cemetery, once located east of Sutter's Fort. Most of the remains were buried in the Helvetia section of East Lawn Cemetery because they came from unmarked graves in the old cemetery. Among the remains in the mass burial area are those belonging to Joseph McKinney, Sacramento County's first sheriff, who was killed four months after taking office in what was called the "squatter riots" of 1850. A stone marker at the site was dedicated to him in 1995. Other stops along the tour included a visit to the final resting spots of Newton J. Earp, the older brother of Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp of the legendary shootout in Tombstone, Ariz.; and William Land, early hotel owner and landowner who donated the money to start the park named after him. One of the more unusual grave sites in the cemetery belongs to four British Royal Air Force pilots who died while test-flying American fighter planes during World War II. Rather than shipping the remains of the men home after the war, British soil was shipped to Sacramento to cover their graves. New chapters in local history are still being added at East Lawn. Outspoken Vietnam veteran and Assemblyman B.T. Collins was buried there in 1993. Congressman Robert Matsui was buried there last year. "We are 101 and still not full and not fully developed," said Alan Fisher, senior vice president of East Lawn. He said tours for children and adults continue throughout the year.


Sacramento Bee, Sunday, 10-4-1992

Grave Matters in Elder Creek
On a sun-baked afternoon, standing under the stingy shade of a cypress tree, Darrell Davies and S.W. Toots Sunzeri are trying to recall the last time someone was actually buried at Elder Creek Cemetery. The two survey the rows of crumbling plots looking for a fresh clue. “We are really a dead cemetery,” says Toots Sunzeri, whose sense of mordant good humor comes naturally. “Nobody comes here to bury anybody anymore.” That's not entirely true. Suddenly it dawns on Sunzeri. Sure, it was his sister-in-law, Alice. “She died just last year. September 18,” he says. “She passed away on the 15th. We buried her on the 18th. Her husband was a World War II veteran. She wanted to be buried next to him. She was 92 years old. Just a young girl,” he says irreverently. “Seven years older than me.” “Let me show you something,” interrupts Darrell Davies, eager to tell his own family tale. “See that tall spire in back. It's the tallest monument in the cemetery. It marks my great-grandfather's grave O.T. Davies. My father always liked to point that that monument cost $1,500 in its day.” That day was an eternity ago. Old O.T. Davies (Native of Wales) died Nov. 4, 1880. “What do you think it would cost today?” wonders Sunzeri, a fancier of angelic statuary. He peers at the prominent marble obelisk, pitted by time, bleached fossil-white by a century of sun. “Probably $30,000 or more.” They stand in the shade and ponder the price of antiquity. The Elder Creek Cemetery, a relic of the past, is encircled by new subdivisions in the city's south area. Just two lonely acres, it is bordered by a chain-link fence and dotted by clumps of pyracantha, oleander, and wild blackberries that run rampant over now illegible headstones. The pioneer cemetery made room for its first soul in 1869. “We don't know where that grave is,” says Sunzeri, looking distressed. It's disappeared. Other graves, too, their pine coffins long ago expired, have left poignant hollows in the earth. Yet what knowledge the rustic cemetery yields is possessed exclusively by these two. Darrell Davies is nearly 80 years old, a tall, distinguished-looking man, who was born and raised in the Elder Creek area. S.W. Sunzeri is 85 years old, a short, dark, outspoken man wearing a floppy cap. Together the odd-sized duo preside over the cemetery board that governs Elder Creek Cemetery. They also sit on the area Tokay Water Board. “Some people think we monopolize things around here,” says Sunzeri, shrugging off such life and death issues. Asked about the people buried here, Davies notes, “There are no murderers buried here. Nobody murdered. Oh, one guy went out and got a haircut one morning and then came home and blew his head off with a shotgun. But most of the people here were simple farmers. No one illustrious.” The two stroll along the brick-bordered plos. Dust stirs, weeds creep, the sound of gravel crunches beneath their feet. “Is old man Rutter buried here?” Davies suddenly bellows to Sunzeri. Sure enough, there's old man Rutter's grave 1827-1912. “The year I was born,” informs Davies. He was the man who first brought Tokay grapes to the Florin area. He ponders that long-forgotten accomplishment. Davies and Sunzeri manage small epitaphs for other graves, too. A woman who died in childbirth; a man who invented a washing machine; the first black buried at Elder Creek, his grave marked by a hand-chiseled marble tablet; a whole memorial grove dedicated to the early Japanese. “Elder Creek was the only cemetery that would accept Japanese bodies back then,” claims Sunzeri. Even graves that bear no headstone, Davies and Sunzeri seem to know something of their inhabitants. “I'm interested in that it looks respectable,” says Sunzeri, when asked of his years of devotion to the cemetery board. “And if things aren't right here, I raise hell.” “So many people buried here,” says Davies, whose father served on the cemetery board before him. “So many people I knew. All their names mean something to me.” Even now, in spite of the appearance of decay and congestion, about 50 plots are left in the cemetery. Most of them spoken for by local folks. But there will be no graves for these two. Curiously enough, both Sunzeri and Davies plan on being buried elsewhere. A final irony of sorts. “My wife has a plot here,” says a mock-peeved Sunzeri (her family, the Murphys, going back multi-generations). “But I'm going to be left out.” “Maybe we can double you up with somebody,” jokes Davies. Davies, whose descendants take up a lot of turf here, as he puts it, prefers to be interred in a crypt at East Lawn. The notion of being planted in the ground disturbs him. “What if someone pulls a fast one on you?” needles Toots Sunzeri, capable of pulling such a lasting prank. “What are you going to do then?“ Davies smiles sagely. “I'm not going to argue,” he replies.


Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 11-10-2005
Local History Unearthed in Area Cemetery
Elk Grove's history lies under shady trees and along worn walkways. Marble headstones give a thumbnail story of pioneers, soldiers and settlers who laid the foundation of today's community... "William H. Cumpston, Civil War Veteran" "Rachel War, free slave" "The past is here," said Marilyn Ann Flemmer, chairwoman of the board of directors of the Elk Grove -Cosumnes Cemetery District. "I have strong feelings about this." Flemmer is slim and dresses in tailored suits. She wears her white hair in a short, full cut. Her heart and life has always been in Elk Grove where family ties go back to the merging of the Flemmer-Frickert families, both well established in the area generations ago. "My parents and grandparents are buried here," she says of the 5-acre Elk Grove Cemetery just south of Highway 99. It's a quick turn off busy Elk Grove Boulevard onto the gravel driveway to the resting place of the community founders. "Natives here talk in a language of old houses and ranches," Flemmer said. "Names of the people who lived there are now on street signs and schools. Many of them are buried here." The first person interred on this site was John Irons, a Mason. He died in 1865 and was buried in the Ebernezor Baptist Church cemetery at Sheldon Road and Highway 99. In 1891, he was exhumed and buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Elk Grove. In 1951, the Masonic Lodge deeded this cemetery to the newly formed Elk Grove - Cosumnes Cemetery District. Once a simple 2-acre parcel, the district has grown to include Elk Grove, Franklin, Pleasant Grove, San Joaquin, Hilltop, and Elder Creek cemeteries. "This represents America," Flemmer said of small cemeteries. There are famous names among those who rest in the six cemeteries, and some not so famous. Five Civil War veterans lie in Elk Grove, one in Hilltop. "Three years ago, I read the Gettysburg Address at the Memorial Day services in their honor," Flemmer said. In Elder Creek, Japanese farmers and their families are buried in a fenced area. James Rutter, an early sheriff who raised Tokay grapes, is there also, on the other side of the fence. In Franklin, a multicultural mélange of Chinese, Japanese, German and Swedish immigrants are interred side by side. In Elk Grove Cemetery, there is Joseph Kerr, who donated the land where a middle school named for him was built. Also in that cemetery lies Obediah Shank Freeman, who crossed the Plains in 1861 to become a farmer in Elk Grove. He is buried in Lot 42. The most famous and most-sought-out grave site of all is that of Elitha Donner Wilder, survivor of the ill-fated Donner Party wagon train. Elitha was rescued and taken to Sutter's Fort. Debra Gale, the district secretary, has devised a walking tour of Elk Grove Cemetery that she takes with school or Scouting groups. She says the children like the story of Edward Cadjew, who had his dog buried beside him - the only dog known to be buried at the cemetery. People often come to Gale to ask for names for a family history or research papers. "People share their stories with us. Debbie talks with them and gives them what information we have," Flemmer said. "I love the connection with people." Last year, there were 72 burials in the district. This year, there have been 89 so far. A few cents annually from each county tax bill supports the district with a budget of $942,000. "As the community grows, so does the revenue," Flemmer said. "Because of that, we are able make improvements, such as getting water to Hilltop." A board oversees the cemetery district, but it is the staff members who are charged with the care and maintenance of its cemeteries. "I am so proud of my fellow board members and my office staff and the groundsmen who work so hard to make the parks so beautiful," Flemmer said. "The board is very proud of its employees." Closely governed by special district law, board members must live within the cemetery district. Those wishing to be buried in one of the plots must also be a resident or have roots in the area. Arnie Zimbelman, Sterling Kloss, and Flemmer comprise the three-member board of directors. They were appointed by county officials and receive $100 a meeting. It is their job to oversee and form policy for the district, organized in 1951. The directors met in a garage until 1990, when an administration building was constructed on the Elk Grove site. "Each cemetery has a master plan," Flemmer said. "At every meeting, we decide priorities. There is no problem we can't solve." Looking forward, the board has acquired more land and plans to have "niche banks" for ashes in all cemeteries, Flemmer said. An avenue of American flags is planned, with a nameplate for each pole. Members of the public can purchase a plaque for a donation of $100. "I want people to come to our Memorial Day ceremonies and honor our American middle-class values and the people who supported us," Flemmer said. "I want children to come." On Veterans Day, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post places flags on the grave of everyone who served in the U.S. armed forces. "I know my roots and love them," Flemmer said. "I want to protect and honor the past."


Sacramento Bee, Sunday, 5-1-2005

Fair Oaks Cemetery Grows in Size - District Widens its Boundaries to Accommodate More Residents The Fair Oaks Cemetery was founded Oct. 21, 1902, on 2.5 acres marked by gently sloping hills and oak trees. The park-like setting at Olive Street and New York Avenue now covers 13 acres, and cemetery officials perform about 200 burials there each year. But until recently, not all Fair Oaks residents could be buried there. Official action has changed that. The Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission last month approved a boundary adjustment for the Fair Oaks Cemetery District to incorporate Fair Oaks residents north of Madison Avenue in the 95628 zip code. Before the boundary adjustment, the Sylvan Cemetery District in Citrus Heights served those homes. Under the arrangement, part of the Fair Oaks district in Carmichael will be added to the Sylvan district. "We were getting a lot of requests from residents who weren't in the district but who wanted to be buried at the cemetery," district manager Ray Young said. He said it was difficult to explain that although the district served a greater population than Fair Oaks, not all Fair Oaks residents were in the district. The Fair Oaks and Sylvan cemetery districts started the process to adjust their boundaries two years ago, Young said. An engineering firm was hired, and a proposal was submitted to LAFCO in June 2004, according to a news release. The LAFCO process included a 60-day public comment period, during which no one protested. The new boundaries became official April 3. The process cost the two districts $33,500, Young said. The new boundaries affect about 1,100 acres and 18,000 residents. The Fair Oaks Cemetery District serves Fair Oaks and parts of Carmichael, Rancho Cordova and unincorporated Sacramento County. The district is bounded on the south by White Rock Road, on the west by Howe Avenue, by Natomas Lake to the east and by Madison Avenue to the north, except where the boundary adjustments added land north of Madison Avenue between Dewey Drive and San Juan Avenue and between Fair Oaks Boulevard and Main Avenue. Young said the district's cemetery and burial services typically cost half of what private cemeteries charge. Two of the earliest burials at the cemetery were of Lillian Maude Shelton and Nellie Williams, who both died in 1898, before the cemetery was part of an official district, according to the district's Web site. The first official burial was that of Sarah Vail in 1903. The Fair Oaks Cemetery also is the final resting place for many war veterans, including about a dozen who served in the Civil War. “There is a strong sense of community identity in Fair Oaks,” Young said. “Many people who have resided in Fair Oaks their entire lives want to be buried here. Now, that option is available to them.”

Sacramento Bee, Sunday, 9-11-2005

Cemetery Set for Final Construction
The Fair Oaks Cemetery District performs about 200 burials a year of area residents and veterans. But next week, district officials will break ground for reasons other than death. The district Tuesday will hold a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate construction of 211 vaults in the ground for burials and a new Patriotic Court of Honor that will house 500 niches for cremated remains. The developments will help meet burial needs for the next 10 years at the cemetery at Olive Street and New York Avenue, said Ray Young, district manager. Over the years, sections of the 11-acre facility have been developed as needed. “This groundbreaking ceremony will celebrate the development of the last remaining portion of the Fair Oaks Cemetery,” Young said, adding that current burial grounds are at capacity. The project will cost $480,000 and will be paid through a district surplus fund for land development, Young said. Construction of the vaults is expected to be complete within four weeks. The Patriotic Court of Honor should be finished by spring of 2006, Young said. The Patriotic Court will be designed as a pentagonal structure and will feature a Wall of Honor to commemorate veterans buried at the cemetery. Drawings will be on display at the groundbreaking ceremony, which will start at 11:30 a.m. The Fair Oaks Cemetery is a public cemetery district established in 1903, according to The district’s services typically cost half of what private cemeteries charge, because it is subsidized by property taxes paid by district residents and property owners, Young said. In April, the district adjusted its boundaries to provide all Fair Oaks residents an opportunity to be buried there. The new boundaries affect about 1,100 acres and 18,000 residents. The district also includes parts of the city of Rancho Cordova, Carmichael, and other unincorporated county areas.


Sacramento Union, 10-25-1953

637 Forgotten Men Lie Buried In Folsom Prison Cemetery
A prison is a city behind walls – and in prison as in a city, death as well as life is a part of the routine to be met. Men die of violence in prison, and of natural causes – 637 men lie buried in the hillside cemetery of Folsom Prison overlooking the American River. In neat rows stand the grave markers, the older ones of granite, the newer ones of painted wood, memorials to forgotten men who died while paying their debts to society. Folsom Prison Cemetery is as old as the prison itself, but who was the first man to be interred there, or why he died, is lost in the musty records of another century. The identity of all who are buried there is known, but it is not known for sure which of the graves actually is the oldest. No exact date is known as to when the cemetery first was established, but it probably was in 1880, the same year the prison was built. The original prison cemetery was located where the prison dairy now stands. It was moved in the 1920s to its present location to make room for expansion of the actual prison plant. It is a neat, well-kept cemetery, and although too high on the river hill for water to be brought to it without excessive cost, the cemetery is much neater and better kept than many public cemeteries in rural areas. Graves were marked with stone, with the prison number of the deceased chisled into it, in the days when a prison stone yard was maintained. Since the prison rock quarry has been closed, plain white wooden markers, with the prisoner’s name and prison number, have been used. Actually the number of deaths that occur in a jail of 2300 inmates, such as Folsom Prison, is much lower in ratio to population than in a town of the same size. This is due to the fact that most inmates are of an age range that covers their most healthy years, the fact they are given the best medical attention, have good food and good living conditions. The average age of a Folsom prison convict is 38. There is no infancy death rate nor high death rate due to extreme old age. Actually the number of persons buried in Folsom Prison Cemetery is only a token number of the deaths that have occurred there over its 73 years of existence. The bodies of the majority of men who died there have been claimed by families or friends and given outside burial. The death rate now also is lower at the prison than ever before. When death of a prisoner occurs, his family, if he has one, is notified. Arrangements can be made for outside burial, just as if he had died outside. If the body is not claimed in due time, it is embalmed and given regular burial in the prison cemetery. Humanitarianism always has played a large part in Folsom Prison administration, even in its earliest days when it was known as the toughest prison in the west. It got that reputation of toughness from the caliber of its inmates, not from the caliber of the treatment accorded them. No prisoner buried here, whether hanged for murder, killed in riots, or in a fight with other inmates, ever has been buried in quick-lime as was once done at early day prisons in the East. There never has been mutilation of a body at Folsom Prison. In the earlier days of the prison, it is true there were no religious services or burial rites for the dead. Men who died were placed in wooden caskets with a shroud and just buried. Religious rites and funeral services were inaugurated in 1929 under administration of Warden Court Smith; but, in reality, it was Bill Ryan, now associate warden of Folsom Prison, who was responsible for the first funeral services ever held here. The first regular funeral came about when one of the prison’s “old timers” a lifer known as Pop died of natural causes. Pop had spent a lot of years behind the walls of Folsom. He played on the prison baseball team in his younger days, and he was a sort of friend and counselor to countless prisoners and was well liked by the prison staff. On the occasion of his death, a delegation of prisoners came to Ryan, who then was a captain, and asked if a few words could be spoken beside the casket. Ryan agreed, but he went further than that – he contacted a Catholic priest in Roseville, for Pop was of the Catholic faith, and asked if the priest would conduct services. Rosary and mass were held in the prison chapel, the result was well received by both prisoners and Warden Smith. Shortly after, the practice of holding funeral services and graveside rites for all who were to be buried in the prison cemetery was inaugurated. Prisoners who are friends of the deceased now attend services in the prison chapel, but for security reasons, they are not allowed to attend the graveside rites. Folsom Prison now has two chaplains, Father Patrick J. Gilligan of the Catholic Faith and Rev. John Dunlop, Protestant. A Jewish rabbi divides his time between Folsom and San Quentin Prisons, and on occasion ministers of other faiths are brought in for services or to administer last rites. Today the bodies of all who are buried here are embalmed, and each man is buried in a new suit of clothes. The prison chapel itself, in which funeral services are held, is a plain, unadorned stone building on the outside, but its interior would do credit to churches in any community. In fact, its muraled walls probably are more beautiful than could be found in many of the finest churches in the largest of cities. The murals, done by a prison artist, were termed by a visiting priest from the Vatican as “real masterpieces.” A huge mural of the Last Supper over the church altar was painted by a man sent to prison for murder, and who, although he since has been released, now is serving another term in a Texas penitentiary. The faces of the 12 apostles in the mural are the faces of 12 prisoners who posed for the painting. Every effort is made by prison officials to turn remains of the dead over to the families, and quite often men are buried in the cemetery not because the members of the family wish it so, or have abandoned them, but because they do not have funds for outside funeral expenses. Many times men originally buried in the prison cemetery have been later moved to public cemeteries by their families. Only a few of the men who die in prison actually have been renounced by their families in recent years. “At the turn of the century,” said associate Warden Ryan, “the word ‘convict’ seemed to have a greater stigma attached to it than it does now, and many more families in those days renounced claim to the bodies of a deceased prisoner.” Persons who have relatives buried at Folsom can visit the graves, but they seldom do. Only once or twice a year are there requests from a member of a convict’s family to visit the cemetery where he is buried, prison officials said. Although in the early days of Folsom Prison, and as late as 1927, there were women prisoners serving sentences there, but not a single woman ever has been buried in the prison cemetery. There never were many women, and only one or two deaths. Their remains were immediately claimed by relatives. It may not be nice to think of dying behind the granite walls of prison, of burial in an anonymous prison grave, but the public may rest assured that those unfortunates who do die there are given a decent and respectable burial.

The Free Library, 1-26-1997

Man Delves into Discarded Resting Place: Prison’s Graves Tell Many Stories
Beneath a verdant hill on the grounds of Folsom Prison lie the graves of some 650 men. For years, the cemetery was forgotten, visited only by deer and rodents and considered so worthless that a former warden junked a map of the plots. Nobody was certain who was buried in the graves. But recently, one man has taken an interest in those laid to rest as long as a century ago. “A lot of people wind up with a black sheep in the family and they don’t know anything about them,’’ said Dennis McCargar, senior librarian at New Folsom Prison – officially California State Prison, Sacramento. ``It seemed to me we ought to come up with at least a surname list of people that died and were buried at the institution.’’ It has been entertaining work. More than 1,100 men are believed to have died at Folsom between 1874, when construction began, and 1957, when the prison began contracting with a removal service to handle inmate bodies. But only about half are in marked graves. McCargar and prison museum curator Tom Hickey speculate that the rest may have been combined into two mass graves when the cemetery was moved to its present site, about one mile northeast of the prison’s main gate and about a quarter-mile west of the parking lot of Folsom Dam. For some, this is the third resting site. The original graveyard was about a quarter-mile above what now is Folsom Dam, although it was built well before the dam and high above the American River. In 1896, floodwaters swept the coffins into the river, dislodging the corpses from the pine boxes. ``All the bodies went surfing down to Folsom,’’ said Hickey, with a bemused smile. Prison officials interred the bodies in a new spot, about a half-mile uphill from the original cemetery. But in 1913, prison authorities decided to put a calving barn atop the new graveyard. Again, the bodies were exhumed and moved to their present site, another half-mile uphill. Today, the calving barn is gone, replaced by a recycling center. And in 1989, when the new prison was built, authorities moved the shooting range to the base of the cemetery. ``When I’m up there, and they’re shooting, I’m ducking,’’ said McCargar, who visits the headstones to cull information from the mossy granite slabs and the fading wooden markers. The cemetery is home to all 93 men who were hanged at Folsom between 1895 and 1937, when Prison opened its gas chamber and Folsom ceased to house one of California’s two Death Rows. Also, there are the bodies of six prisoners whose bloody attempted escape on Thanksgiving Day in 1927 has become part of prison lore. One was shot to death in the ensuing uprising and the other five were hanged that same year. One granite marker is for Jake ``the Tiger’’ Oppenheimer, who murdered at least three prison inmates and was suspected of many more killings. He was a legend even in Folsom Prison, known for its historic streak of violence. He was hanged in 1903. But only a fraction of those buried at Folsom Prison were executed. The rest died in disease epidemics or gang warfare or escape attempts – some of which were more bizarre than others. In the fall of 1932, Carl T. Reese tried to escape the prison by weighing himself down with steel plates and walking the length of the canal that connected the prison with the city of Folsom. He wore a diving helmet made from an old football bladder and a hodgepodge of hoses. But Reese miscalculated the depth and drowned as he frantically tried to dump the steel from his pockets, according to Hickey. Hickey, a human encyclopedia of Folsom Prison history, has been intrigued for years by the mysteries of the graveyard. ``These men were the pioneers of California,’’ he said. ``They came for the Gold Rush.’’ Although Hickey discovered a pirated copy of the cemetery’s plot map, many of the wooden markers are out of sequence and many, many graves appear to be missing – spawning the speculation of mass burials. Years of official indifference have made the puzzle even more difficult to solve.


Sacramento Bee, Saturday, 12-19-1998

Cemetery Planned
Construction may begin as early as January on the Sacramento area’s first Muslim cemetery, to be built on Jackson Road, local religious leaders said this week. Muslims from more than a half-dozen mosques, or masjids, and Islamic centers have purchased the 15-acre plot together, according to Imam Mumtaz Qasmi of the V Street mosque. Half of the roughly $400,000 needed for the project has been raised so far. One or two acres, with the capacity of 1,000 to 1,100 graves per acre, will be developed first, Qasmi said. Most Muslim burials now take place in a section of Camellia Memorial Lawn, also on Jackson Road, Qasmi said.


Sacramento Union, 7-30-1950

Old Weed-infested Cemetery in Galt District Reads Like Who’s Who in State Pioneer Lore
Next organization with a yen to erect a monument to northern California pioneers could do worse than look into the matter of Hicksville Cemetery, located only a stone’s throw off Highway 99, several miles north of Galt. The weed-infested, three-acre plot burial ground for several hundred early-day settlers is already a monument, but only to man’s ability to forget quickly. A trip to the cemetery is in itself an education. Dozens of pioneer families are there, and stones carry inscriptions reading like a who’s who of the central valley’s early day history. A few fresh mounds are visible, but for the most part the cemetery lies covered with weeds, grass, and poison oak. A few trees, including a stately cypress, add an incongruous note. Scores of tiny lizards live in the graveyard, and burrowing animals have undermined tombstones and dug into graves themselves. The cemetery was started by Mrs. Elizabeth Davis, a short time after she settled in the vicinity in 1851. Mrs. Davis objected to the custom of burying pioneers in widely scattered places. She quickly won the approval of other women of her day who decided upon the location it now occupies. First burial, according to old-timers in the area, was that of a Negro known only as “Nigger Dan,” a former slave. Several other Negroes, nearly all former slaves or descendants of former slaves, also are believed buried there, but markers apparently have been removed or have deteriorated, making identification impossible. Monuments over graves attest to hardships of life in the 1880s. A large share of graves are those of children, some of them dead at birth, and some who lived only a few weeks or two or three years. Hardy settlers who survived terrific handicaps to reach their “land of Promise,” often as not were 80 or more before death came. David L. Davis, who died when 72 years old, is an example. Though both he and his wife lived to ripe ages, clustered around them in their famil7y plot are five children, including Willie, 3; Phoebe, 1; and Louie, who died the same year he was born. The somber eloquence often found on old tombstones isn’t lacking at Hicksville. One slab, over William Frazer who died when 15 months old, reads: “Those little hands thou wilt raise no more to meet my loving fond caress. For death’s cold blast in passing over has snatched thee from affection’s breast.” A tiny stone, apparently the burial place of another Frazer child, shows only the initials W. F. F. Many old tombstones are broken, some apparently by vandals. Others shattered as they toppled over when animals burrowed underneath, or as windstorms whipped through the field, blowing over weakened monuments. Present owner of the graveyard is not known. The site once came under ownership of the Hicksville Methodist Church, which was sold many years ago after the town of Hicksville burned down. The wood was taken to Galt for construction of houses, and the cemetery fell into gradual decay, as people moved away, and modern farm methods and machinery dispersed farm populations. Sacramento County Assessor’s rolls carry a notation “not assessed to anyone.” Though considerable restoration work must be done to bring the cemetery into condition, residents of the area feel that if enough interested organizations would participate, the acreage could again be made a suitable resting place. In all fairness, the cemetery isn’t entirely neglected. A new-looking sign, marked “Hicksville Cemetery,” hangs over the entrance. About a year ago, Airport Road Camp inmates cleaned up the grounds, removing weeds and rubble, and at least once each year a women’s pioneer organization hangs a wreath on the cemetery gate. Otherwise, only lizards, grasshoppers, and a few rodents watch, disturbed only when another pioneer is buried beside other members of his family, or when a new grave is dug.  

Sacramento Bee, Monday, 5-1-1995

Historic Cemetery Sacred to Indians
For Pat Blue and other American Indians, Hicksville Cemetery is a sacred spot. The east side of the 2.5-acre graveyard, about six miles south of Elk Grove, is the final resting place for more than 60 American Indians, some of whom were born in the early 1800s. The west side contains the remains of many early ranching families in the Elk Grove area, including the Dillards. On the west side, the graves are topped by elaborate tombstones. On the east side, most of the graves are unmarked in keeping with Indian tradition. I feel like I’m coming home every time I come here,” Blue, 60, of Sacramento said recently while visiting the graves of some of her Miwok ancestors at the tree-shaded cemetery on Arno Road. Her comment had double meaning. She spent her early childhood in a house a couple of miles east of Hicksville Cemetery; when she dies, she plans to make the cemetery her final home. “I feel like a real part of this land,” Blue said, standing near the graves of her parents, grandparents, and at least 10 other relatives. “I feel close to my family when I come here... That’s why I want to be buried here.” The Hicksville Cemetery was established in the 1860s or 1870s on land set aside by the Valensin family, said Elizabeth Pinkerton, a south county historian and past president of the Elk Grove Historical Society. Like Hicksville, a nearby town that flourished in the mid-1800s, it was named for William Hicks, a pioneer cattle rancher. Initially, the cemetery may have served as a burial ground for employees of Pio Valensin, whose descendants still own the 4,356-acre ranch bordering the tombs, Pinkerton said. The Valensins declined to be interviewed. Pio Valensin also decreed that the east side of the cemetery would be a burial ground for American Indians who lived on or near his ranch, Pinkerton said. Even before then, the east side of the cemetery had been a sacred Indian burial ground, American Indians suggest. What is certain, they add, is that after Valensin deeded the land, American Indians buried their dead at the cemetery without any costs. “There’s no question in my mind that Mr. Valensin intended that the Indian people would have this land and they would not have to purchase it from him,” Pinkerton said. “At that time, people gave away land freely because there was so much of it.” But the absence of a written deed has led to a dispute between some American Indians and the Galt-Arno Cemetery District, which took over the cemetery in the early 1950s. More than a year ago, the district began charging a $100 “endowment fee” for American Indians to bury a loved one there. Interest from the endowment will eventually be used for the cemetery’s maintenance, said Lawrence Mendoza, an official of the cemetery district. American Indians such as Terisa Franklin contend the fee is illegal. “We don’t feel it’s right to have to pay $100,” said Franklin, a Miwok from Sacramento, who has numerous relatives at the cemetery. “We’ve never had to pay to bury our people at this cemetery. It is our sacred burial grounds.” And some of her people cannot afford the fee, she said. Franklin and other American Indians have proposed taking over the cemetery – and assuming maintenance duties, which they say they sometimes do now on weekends. But Darlene Brown-Toyebo, an American Indian who serves on the board of the district, said the cemetery cannot rely on private citizens for its upkeep. “People make a lot of commitments and they don’t follow through,” said Brown-Toyebo, who also has loved ones at Hicksville Cemetery. Brown-Toyebo said raffles and other fund-raisers have been held in the community to raise money for those unable to pay the $100 fee. The district took over the cemetery years ago, after it became run-down and overgrown with weeds, Mendoza said. “The (Sacramento County Board of) Supervisors turned it over to us because there was no one there to keep that place clean,” he said. At one time, the cemetery was administered by a nearby, now-defunct church. Even today, American Indian funerals at Hicksville involve old traditions. The grave is dug by hand, by male relatives of the deceased. During the burial ceremony, Indian chants fill the air. The Nature Conservancy is trying to purchase the Valensin Ranch, with hopes of turning it into a preserve. The cemetery would not be affected if the transaction goes through, conservancy officials have said.

Lodi News-Sentinel, Wednesday, 7-16-2008

Local Indians in Fight Over Use of Historic Hicksville Cemetery
GALT — A group of Miwok Indians whose descendants inhabited the Cosumnes River area are once again trying to acquire burial sites at historic Hicksville Cemetery — sites they insist are rightfully theirs. It goes back to what local Indians admit is a handshake agreement in 1870 that settlers in the Galt-Wilton area would share Hicksville Cemetery with local Indians, according to Galt residents Darlene Brown and Billie Blue-Elliston. Now there are two disputes affecting the Galt-Arno Cemetery District, a tax-supported institution that operates Galt and Hicksville cemeteries. One dispute is how many plots are to be allocated to local Indians. The other is whether Indians should be charged for burials. “This is really complicated,” cemetery board chairman Guy Rutter said. “The drama associated with it is overwhelming at times.” The issues are so acute that Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli convened two meetings between cemetery and Indian representatives in April and May. Attorney Bob Hunt, who represents more than 25 public cemetery districts, laid out the elements for a possible agreement between the two factions. Hunt was not available for comment Tuesday, but Nottoli said he left the two meetings believing that significant progress had been made. What complicates the matter is that Brown and Blue-Elliston, in addition to fighting the cemetery district, also sit on the five-member cemetery board, which is appointed by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. Blue-Elliston said that relations with the cemetery district changed in 1992, when her family was charged $700 to bury her father, William Blue, at Hicksville, a four-acre cemetery on Arno Road, just east of Highway 99. “That’s when it hit the fan,” Brown said. Since Miwok Indians perform their own burials and don’t hire professionals to dig the graves, Indians hadn’t been charged to bury their relatives at Hicksville Cemetery, Brown and Blue-Elliston said. Indians stopped being charged for burials later in the 1990s, and the Blue family was reimbursed its $700 payment. However, in 2002, the cemetery board voted 3-2 to charge Indians the same as people from any other denomination. “That’s when the nightmare began,” said Brown, a descendent of several Indian tribes. “I could not believe we were going backwards.” The other issue is what Indians perceive as having some of the land at Hicksville taken away from them by the cemetery district. The cemetery is divided by a concrete walkway. Brown and Blue-Elliston maintain that the Indians get the east side of the walkway, and people from other cultures get the west side. But cemetery district officials say that Indians get two rows of 90 plots each, not the entire six rows that are on the east side of the cemetery grounds. Depending on who you talk to, the issue is in limbo, or the cemetery board is stalling on a decision about both issues. Rutter says attorneys are reviewing legal aspects of it, one issue being whether a public district can give away land to Indians. Would it constitute a gift of public funds, which would be an illegal act? Rutter expects to receive a legal opinion in the next couple of months so the board can take action, but Brown said that attorneys aren’t reviewing anything. The board could act on these issues any time it wants, she said.


Sacramento Bee, 11-25-1925

Jews to Dedicate New Burial Ground
 – Public Cemetery Planned For Opening of Home of Peace Cemetery Arrangements have been completed for the dedication next Sunday afternoon of the new Jewish Cemetery, which has been named the Home of Peace of Sacramento. The cemetery comprises between six and seven acres of land, and is located on the Stockton Boulevard, about six miles distant from the Sacramento post office. Rabbi Harold F. Reinhart of Temple B’nai Israel and Rabbi E. Brosin of the Mosaic Law Synagogue will jointly conduct the consecration services, beginning at 3 o’clock. There also will be an address by Rabbi Michael Fried, formerly of this city, now of Temple Shalom in San Francisco. Rabbi Fried will be the guest of the cemetery association. The public is invited to attend the services, and announcement was made today that automobiles will be provided until 2:45 o’clock Sunday afternoon for transporting persons from the Colonial Heights station of the Traction line to the cemetery. Arrangements also are being made to meet out-of-town guests at the railroad station upon request made in sufficient time in advance to Max Simon. Simon can be reached through post office box 89, or telephone number Main 3470M. The new cemetery is located on a corner on the west side of Stockton Boulevard. The property is 200 feet on Stockton Boulevard and extends 1,500 feet along a county road crossing. A sprinkler system with a deep well and pumping plant and automatic sprinklers provides facilities for the care of the grounds. The plan provides for a lawn without elevated stones for the central section of the cemetery. Side sections are reserved for those who choose to erect tombstones and mausoleums. The Home of Peace of Sacramento is a corporation, the membership of which consists of those who own plots in the cemetery. The organization was formed by representatives of the two local Jewish congregations, Temple B’nai Israel and the Mosaic Law Synagogue. The old cemetery at J and Thirty-second streets has been taken over by the new corporation, but no more interments will be made in the old cemetery. The J Street burial ground is one of the oldest cemeteries in the valley, having been started by the first Jewish settlers in pioneer days. The office of the association is at the Temple B’nai Israel, 1431 Fifteenth Street. The officers and directors are: J. S. Gattman, president; I. Kubel, vice president; O. Goldblatt, treasurer; H. M. Kauffman, secretary; directors Albert Elkus, Oscar Blumberg, I. Brown, J. S. Gattman, O. Goldblatt, H. M. Kauffman, I. Kubel. A. J. Markowitz, Gus Marks, M. Simon, and Max Smith.

Sacramento Bee, Friday, 6-12-1987

Ill-Suited Neighbors Cemetery Owners Not Pleased With Adjoining Junkyard
Isidor Kalischer was born in the politically divided and physically hungry Germany of the 1830s. Sixty-nine years later – on March 7, 1907 – she died and was buried in Sacramento. The immigrant’s granite headstone rests less than a car length from a faded, metallic green Ford Galaxy 500. The vehicle was manufactured in the early 1970s, definitely in pre-energy crisis America, and thousands of miles later was stacked on top of other junked cars parked off Stockton Boulevard. The owners of both sections of land apparently sought out the purlieu – one for solitude and the other for isolation – but ended up next to each other with a city growing up around them. A six-foot block wall separates Home of Peace Cemetery from American Auto Wreckers, but it’s not tall enough to shield from view the rusting Ford, its trunk sprung open. Owners of the cemetery consider the wrecking yard an “obscene’’ neighbor for the final resting place of their loved ones. “Sometimes you can’t even hear yourself in the middle of a funeral,’’ Rabbi Lester Frazin said of the heavy equipment that moves car bodies around. “We just want the place to be decent, acceptable,’’ said Oscar Morvai, president of the cemetery association that built the wall and has planted shrubs to shield the view. “Would you like to live next to a wrecking yard?’’ Dick Parks, owner of American Auto Wreckers, knows that no one wants to live next door to his business, that people consider it an eyesore. No one likes sewage treatment plants either, he said, but both are necessary. The facts of civilized life aside, Parks insists that he’s done what he can to get along, and to survive. “This place has been here since before God,’’ Parks said of the 40-year- old wrecking yard. The cemetery, however, predates the wrecking yard. Rabbi Frazin said the cemetery contains some of the oldest Jewish graves west of the Mississippi River. Some of those buried at Home of Peace, including Isidor Kalischer, originally lay in Sacramento’s first Jewish cemetery east of 31st Street (now Alhambra Boulevard) and south of J Street. That property is home today to a concrete water tower, a grocery store, a bank, and the Lincoln Law School. But back in 1850, the B’nai Israel Congregation purchased it for a cemetery and turned it over to the Sacramento Benevolent Hebrew Society, cemetery historian Doe Bayless said. In 1924, the congregation purchased the 10-acre wedge of property fronting on Stockton Boulevard, about a mile south of Fruitridge Road. The early graves were moved to the new site in the country. To the north is El Paraiso Avenue, Spanish for “paradise,’’ and on the far side of paradise is Sacramento Memorial Lawn Cemetery. Parks said the wrecking yard was built south of Home of Peace in 1947, and when he acquired the business 15 years ago it came with “all kinds of grandfather rights.” Parks said he spent a couple of thousand dollars on plans to expand the operation and spruce it up. But Parks said the city rejected his proposal. By the early 1970s, land-use standards had been established and in planning parlance the junkyard was a “legal non-conforming use,’’ said Chuck Fontaine, a city nuisance abatement officer. Fontaine said city records contain no specific complaints against the wrecking yard. But a year ago, Fontaine said, residents complained at a community meeting about old cars being dumped on a nearby vacant lot that has since been developed. Morvai said the wrecking yard is a perennial irritant for the cemetery board, which at one time thought about buying out the business to relieve the concerns of the congregation. Morvai and Frazin said over the years the cemetery association board has complained to the city because of cars stacked high above the wall. But Morvai couldn’t say specifically when and how the board has complained. For now the association has decided the answer is time. As the area builds up, Morvai believes economics will pressure the wrecking yard owner to sell out. “It’s one of those things that’s been there so many years you kind of learn to live with it,’’ Morvai said. Parks said he has been visited only once in the past 15 years by someone from the cemetery. “They wanted me to put barbed wire on top of their wall,’’ Parks said. “The thieves cut through the cemetery at night,’’ he explained. “They throw the parts over the wall and carry them through the cemetery. But if the cops drive by, they’d drop the parts and run. It would be like me getting mad if I found a tombstone in my yard. One time in 15 years,’’ Parks said. “I don’t have a problem with the cemetery.’’ But Parks does have other problems and some of them are economic. “I’m having a time just surviving out here,’’ Parks said. “Thieves are making off with thousands of dollars a year in parts,” he said. Last year a mini-warehouse was built south of the wrecking yard, and Parks said modifications made to the creek between them caused his property to flood in the winter. During the summer, he fixes radiators and air conditioners. In the winter he buys cars smashed up on rain-slick roadways and tears them apart. But this year, half of his 450 junked cars spent the winter in two to feet of water, which Parks figures cost him $80,000 in sales during January and February. City engineering technician Ron Perry said he has urged the businesses to settle their differences.


Sacramento Bee, 4-2-1924
Jewish Cemetery Being Moved to a New Location – All Bodies At Thirty-Second And J Will Be Taken To Site On Upper Stockton Road With the removal yesterday of six bodies from the Jewish Cemetery at Thirty-second and J streets to the new Home of Peace Cemetery on the Upper Stockton Road two miles south of this city, the abandonment of the old cemetery began. It was announced today by the B’nai Israel Cemetery Association, which owns the old burial grounds, that all bodies will be removed to the new cemetery and that the old ground will be sold. Plans have been underway for several years by the B’nai Israel Cemetery Association for the abandonment of the old cemetery. No bodies have been buried there for some time. The abandonment was made possible recently when the Home of Peace Cemetery Association was organized by the congregations of the two local Jewish churches. The new cemetery occupies six and one-half acres on the west side of the Upper Stockton Road, two miles south of the city limits. Only a few of the lots in the old cemetery are owned by individuals. The title to practically all of the lots rests with the association. It was stated that all the bodies will be removed.


Sacramento Bee, Saturday, 11-2-1996
State Probes Rubble in Folsom Cemetery Dispute
State investigators were poring Friday over a massive heap of concrete and granite rubble near the Lakeside Cemetery in Folsom, hoping the tons of debris will resolve a lengthy battle between history buffs and owners of the burial grounds Officials recently found fragments of headstones and burial plots in the rubble, some of which is on public property in the Folsom State Recreation Area and has sparked concerns about the possibility of illegal dumping by the cemetery. Underlying the state investigation, however, are more troubling but unsupported allegations by local historians that 19th century burial plots have been degraded and that many grave markers of historical pioneer figures are missing. Nothing found thus far in the digging, which is in its preliminary stages, has linked Lakeside to any felony wrongdoing, according to Mike Gomez, head of investigations for the state Department of Consumer Affairs. No charges have been filed. No conclusions have been reached. And Lorin Claney, owner of the cemetery, contends the excavation is much ado over little or nothing. Historians' accusations against Lakeside are unfair and unwarranted, he claims. Claney admits that the pile of rubble, which Lakeside has agreed to remove, includes material from the cemetery. But most of the affected plots were altered before his ownership and all were done with permission from families of the deceased, he said. Claney, whose family purchased Lakeside in 1963, said previous owners began removing concrete copings - walls outlining old cemetery plots - in the 1950s to convert the old cemetery into a more modern lawn-covered cemetery, not to degrade plots. Most concrete copings and headstones removed from the cemetery had been damaged and broken by weather, fallen trees or vandals, Claney said. During his ownership, copings around eight burial plots were removed and dumped, all with the permission of affected families, he said. As for accusations that the cemetery removed copings for the sake of financial gain - such as reselling grave sites - Claney said "it just doesn't happen" at Lakeside. "If we thought the cemetery was filled to capacity, why would we take it over?" he added. "There's no financial gain to take over a cemetery if you can't sell plots, and we sure didn't buy it to maintain what was already there." The rubble heap, about 35 feet in length, lies in a ravine partly on state-owned land adjacent to the cemetery at 507 Scott St. Following numerous complaints about the debris, city officials ordered Lakeside to remove the rubble as a condition for obtaining a use permit to install a new mausoleum in 1991. Lakeside started removing the huge pile this week. Investigators from Consumer Affairs - which oversees cemeteries - moved in, cordoning off a 50-yard-by-50-yard area in which they plan to excavate and study the contents. Sue Silver, a Folsom historian, said the debris reveals at least 10 to 20 family burial plots that have been "grossly degraded." Silver also claims many grave markers of historical pioneer figures are missing. "These are all pioneer graves," said Silver, who has leveled numerous complaints against Lakeside. "They are our history." The state Department of Parks and Recreation is looking into the possibility that the rubble was dumped illegally on parkland, while Consumer Affairs is studying the contents for evidence of unethical business practices, officials said. Several days ago, investigators found what they thought were small bone fragments among the rubble but tests by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office determined them to be pieces of vegetation, wood and dirt

Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 5-7-1998

Cemetery in No Apparent Hurry to Develop Mausoleums
After making strides toward compliance with conditions for development and a change of ownership, one of Folsom's oldest businesses has yet to develop a sizable piece of land planned for as many as 10 mausoleums. Lakeside Memorial Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum, which dates back to 1869, plans to use nearly 2 acres on the southern tip of its Mormon Street mausoleum site that complements its 7-acre cemetery on Mormon and Scott streets. "All of this land is sitting here, and we only have one mausoleum," general manager Lorin Claney said. "It makes sense to do something with it." Lakeside has used the two years since the Folsom Planning Commission last reviewed its proposal to comply with 16 conditions of approval. In February 1996, the commission found that Lakeside hadn't complied with all of the conditions set forth in the original approval in 1991, and instructed the firm to report back to the commission in two years. Since then, the Claney family, which owned the cemetery for 35 years, has sold the Lakeside Cemetery and Mausoleum to Service Corporation International, which owns Mount Vernon Memorial Park in Fair Oaks. The state Department of Consumer Affairs' approval of the sale is pending. Lorin Claney has remained the general manager while the sale is pending. The transaction could be approved by early June. At the time of the 1991 approval, boundaries of the property were the subject of a dispute between Lakeside officials and representatives of the nearby Chung-Wah Cemetery, a historical Chinese cemetery. Chung-Wah representatives said a road Lakeside was grading at the mausoleum site encroached upon the historic cemetery. The dispute escalated to the point that the state Cemetery Board became involved, and an agreement was reached. The problem was that the surveyed boundary line didn't match the generally accepted boundary. The Claneys were building the road in the wrong place, and it was acknowledged that Chinese burials probably had occurred outside the Chung-Wah site. It was agreed that the southern tip of Lakeside's mausoleum site would be a "no-build" area, said Loretta McMaster, a senior planner with the city. Claney said the new granite mausoleums will be similar to the current mausoleum, which contains 168 caskets. When built, the Lakeside mausoleums will contain 2,000 crypt spaces. Other area cemeteries, such as East Lawn Memorial Park in Sacramento, have mausoleums similar to Lakeside's, Claney said.

Sacramento Bee, Thursday, 12-4-2008

It's a Maintenance Issue - Cemetery Goes Back to Basics, to Chagrin of Some - Couple Forced to Take Away Angel Statue at Their Son's Grave Site A stranger helped John Koppel lug the concrete angel from his son's grave site at Lakeside Memorial Lawn in Folsom to the family sport-utility vehicle. The heavy statue had to be hauled away Monday because it violates newly enforced regulations at the 160-year-old cemetery. John Joseph Koppel, who shared his father's name, was a teacher at Folsom Middle School when he died two years ago of cancer. By all accounts, the 37-year-old was a popular and inspiring educator. His students still visit his grave. His parents, John and Carolyn Koppel, visit their only child's grave every day. Until Monday, the angel sat next to their son's ground-level headstone. But Lakeside's regulations say graves can be marked only with a headstone and fresh flowers in a permanent vase. "The rules have been posted on the front gate for umpteen years," said Lorin Claney, who owns the cemetery and Miller Funeral Home in Folsom. The rules were mostly ignored for decades, however, and graves were bedecked with all manner of memorabilia. It became a maintenance issue, Claney said, and a notice was posted in September that the rules would be enforced as of Dec. 1. Not everybody complied, as shown by an array of items piled next to a storage shed at the cemetery, including various statues and crosses, candy canes, a teddy bear, a Raggedy Ann doll, a small decorated Christmas tree and a Tony Stewart No. 20 NASCAR flag. Lakeside is a far cry from the modern, meticulous and often massive genre of cemeteries. Nobody finds the site by accident. It's tucked away west of Folsom Boulevard, near Natoma Street. "If this was Mount Vernon, I could understand the uniformity," Koppel said. "But this is not that kind of cemetery." Its 6 acres of developed grave sites meander among palm, cypress and other evergreen trees, and the rows of headstones -- when they are in rows -- are less than precisely aligned. Grave markers range from shiny and new to a rough granite-looking pillar that stands close to 10 feet tall. The date on that one was too worn to read, but others date back to 1862, 1876, 1877, 1885, and so on. "We have one marker from 1850," Claney said. The Koppel grave at one time was decorated with the angel and two small rosemary trees, along with mementos left by other visitors. "One of John's students comes every month and leaves flowers or something," his 63-year-old father said. "He helped her with some problems at school, and she had so much respect for him." The problem with the Koppels' angel was that it was not attached to the headstone, Claney said. When their son was buried, upright headstones were not allowed in that part of the cemetery. The rule has since been changed because some families erected upright monuments anyway, Claney said, but the Koppels don't want to replace the headstone at their son's grave. John Koppel said he understands that Claney has a business to run but contends that he had permission to add the statue. He also said other Lakeside families also are upset and plan to meet with Claney today. The cemetery has been in Claney's family since 1963. The site originally consisted of six private cemeteries, most of which were owned by Folsom lodges, such as American Legion and Odd Fellows. In 1955, the private graveyards were combined into Lakeside, where approximately 6,000 people have been interred. But even an old and picturesque cemetery must be maintained, Claney said. The grass must be mowed and the weeds must be whacked. "With all that stuff scattered around, you would have to get off the mower just about every time you come to a grave," he said. "And if I hit something with the mower or a weed whip, families would get upset." He said other cemeteries -- "every other one that I have been to" -- allow nothing beyond a marker and an in-ground vase at each grave. "Everybody is different and everybody has something ... that is significant to them," he said. "In recent years, it just got out of control."

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