Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Memorial Weekend Project

Remember my post from Mothers Day? I wrote about a drive around the area that my daughter, son-in-law, grandson and I went on and visits to 2 old cemeteries. Well, in the days after Mothers Day, I did some looking around on the Internet and found that as far as the genealogy sites go, the two cemeteries we visited are not well documented. Sure, there are lists on one site, but very few photos. And on one of the sites that I use for looking for my ancestors, there were no names, no photos or anything. (That site is called "Find a Grave".) So, I started making lists of names, dates and whatever other information I could find. Then I spent some time entering the names, dates and etc. on Find a Grave page for one of the cemeteries. About 150 names...

Then yesterday I asked my 14 year old granddaughter if she'd like to go out there and help me. My 5 year old grandson heard us talking about it and he piped up that he wanted to go too. So we piled in my car and headed out there. And now I'm going to share a few of the pictures that I took out there yesterday.

DSC01934 This is the view of the cemetery as you drive down the dirt road. There are no signs identifying the place as the Pennington or North Butte cemetery. Just a couple signs placed out by the road and then again back there under that big tree that tell you that the county does not want people hanging around there after dark. The urban legend around here is that there is a witch buried somewhere in the graveyard, but no one seems to know which grave is hers or even if her grave has a tombstone on it. It all depends on who you talk to. Local teenagers have come out to DSC01857this cemetery at night for years now, and unfortunately some of them had no respect and spent their time damaging the old tombstones and other grave markers. Take a look at the grave in the photo to the right. The name or names are gone, so are the dates and just about anything else that might identify the poor soul who is buried there. The pieces of the large stone that the name would have been on are gone. The three small pieces that are laying there are blank. Nothing on them. So now, it's a misdemeanor to be caught in this old cemetery at night. Unfortunately, it's not exactly on a main street.. It's on a back road among the orchards at the base of the Sutter Buttes, and there is no one living close by. It's a sad place.

DSC01888Some of the makers on the graves are really hard to figure out. Four or five of the graves are marked with a piece of metal on a stake that had been painted at one time with the person's name. No dates or anything else. Perhaps these were the "pauper's graves"? Unfortunately, the one in the picture to the left is the one that is the most readable now. Others have no paint left and are rusting, so there is no way of knowing who is lying below.

DSC01863This being the Memorial Day weekend, I knew that most cemeteries would have flags placed at all the veteran's graves. I did not expect it here at this old cemetery. But, someone had come out and placed flags and crosses on each of the gravestones that identified a veteran. My granddaughter told me that it is good that people haven't completely forgotten these people. And I agree with her. DSC01868 Both of these graves are for World War I veterans. There are also a couple World War II veterans buried in this old cemetery.

By the way, this is not an abandoned cemetery. There have been burials there as recent as last year. Not many, only two, and the surnames of the two who were buried there last year were common ones among the other "residents" of the cemetery. DSC01893The earliest tombstone is for Sylvanus Sanborn in 1859 and it's one of the more ornate ones there.

In wandering around the cemetery reading and photographing the tombstones it was interesting to see the ones that told where the deceased had come from. Kentucky, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey were among the places mentioned. There are even natives of Belfast, Ireland and Portugal buried here in this small, old pioneer cemetery. These weren't the "49'rs" who came to California to mine for gold. These were the people who came with their families to build a life, to build farms and grow orchards around the base of the Sutter Buttes.

Well, I guess I'll get back to uploading the photos of the tombstones to the "Find a Grave" site and reviewing the information from the other list I acquired. Some of the photos aren't matching up with the information on the list... A date wrong here, a name misspelled there. I'm making notes and will send what information I've worked out to the other sites that were my sources. Maybe someday it'll help someone who's trying to track down their family tree.

Happy Memorial Day everyone.... Remember to stop, think and give thanks to all the veterans who have served this country...

Before I go, though.. I'll share a photo of a one-room school-house here in the area... They had a fire in it a couple years back, but overall the school house looks pretty good, huh?

9 comments:

Steven said...

Thanks for the link to 'Find a Grave'. I was always going to do what you have done and add some names from remote and forgotten cemeteries, but haven't gotten around to it. There's a very interesting one in Prattville, on the southern shore of Lake Almanor. Another can be found, if you look very hard, in Hayden Hill, an abandoned gold mining town about 56 miles north of Susanville off of SR 139.

Sprocket said...

Your graveyard trip took me down memory lane a few years back when my sisters and I surprised our Mom with a trip to her childhood home towns (2) where we saw the properties of her childhood homes (new houses there) the school she attended, where the old soda shop was, the old railroad depot and the old local graveyard. She said one of her grandparents is there but there's no tombstone anymore.

Seeing those photos you took reminded me of all the photos I took of the gravestones.

Thank you Anakerie!

Anonymous said...

Your trip to the cemetery to "plat" and photgraph the graves is a very good deed. Sharing it with the Find a Grave site may help others find graves they are searching for. 25 years ago my sister-in-law and I walked and platted our local cemetary. We gave the plat(map)to the cemetery association. Another source who would appreciate the information is the county historical society or local library. Genealogists often ask these groups for information on remote cemeteries.
One trick we used to bring up the information on really old, deteriorated tombstones was to use a rubbing method. Place some newsprint or butcher paper on the stone and use the side of a crayon to rub the paper. The indentions on the stone will show up on the paper and you can read the names/dates,etc. Another trick is to use white or colored chalk to outline the letters and numbers, making them easier to read.You have done a very important thing and sharing this information will someday help people find their ancestors. Thank you for your work. It was also good to include your young relatives in this project. It builds respect for those who have lived in the past. You certainly will not have to worry about these young people vandalizing graves!! Again, thanks for your work. A friend in Texas.

Anakerie said...

I haven't mapped that cemetery, because I believe it might have already been done. I need to go to the county office that oversees the cemeteries and find out what has been done in the past. There is no use in duplicating work already done. The initial list of names was done as an Eagle Scout project several years ago. I knew that there were very few photos of the graves markers on a site where I obtained the first list of names, none on another site where I gathered a few more names and nothing at all on Find A Grave. I'm also working on getting some information about another small cemetery in the area. Again, I need to pay a visit to the county offices..

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the photo of the one room schoolhouse. My mother many years ago, went to that school along with her three siblings. We visited it about 20 years ago, and it looked to be being remodeled. It is a shame that a fire damaged the property.

Anakerie said...

Anonymous at 4:33pm:
I'm glad you enjoyed the photo. I've been thinking about heading back over to that schoolhouse to take a few more photos of it. I haven't been over that way in a few months and it might be interesting to see what has happened...

Anonymous said...

just so u know the pics of the cemetary u are showing is not the witches graveyard thats the noyesburg cemetary not the same one!! thats why its still being used the other one the so called "witches" is not

Anakerie said...

To Anonymous on Nov. 9th;
The images in this blog entry are from the North Butte Cemetery (Or Pennington Cemetery). This cemetery is on the South side of the road where the Noyesburg Cemetery is on the North side and further West on North Butte Road. Noyesburg Cemetery is also much closer to the road and has a sign showing the name. It also has "current" burials.

All of the old cemeteries that are around the Sutter Buttes have somewhat recent burials because the families who've lived on and around the buttes still choose to use the "pioneer" cemeteries. I've verified the locations of the two old burial grounds that I've documented with the Sutter Cemetery District. Noyesburg Cemetery was in the process of being photographed by another person so I took no photos there.

As for the location of the "witch's grave", the legends about the "witch" have become so blurred and the old cemeteries have been vandalized so heavily there is no way to know exactly which of the cemeteries that are around the Buttes is the one where the legend began. Your guess is as good as mine as to which one she/he is buried in.

Anonymous said...

Dont know why today i thought about my trip to that cemetary but thought it was interesting that people are actually still talking about it, Anerkie the pics are of the so called "witches graveyard" albeit only legend has one witch that was hung by the very tree in the cemetary. The noyesburg or pugh cemetary is close by for the other annony person. But heres the thing my adventure there as a kid in the middle of the night was very scary at the time strange sounds, buddies car not wanting to start upon trying to run the hell outta there. No im not making this up. The main thing i recall is a small stick like cross on a grave that has since been destroyed or removed, but i do remeber that distinctly. so Anerkie the legend is true i believe. Anyways a very interesting place for you paranormal cemetary folks out there. bye Matthew