Monday, May 11, 2009

A Tiny Chapel, Old Cemeteries, an Old Schoolhouse and a Bird!

Yesterday was Mother's Day and I hope all of my readers who are Moms, Grandmas or Moms-to-be had a lovely day. Mine was very nice... We (my daughter, son-in-law and my youngest grandson) took a spur of the moment drive around the area where we live. My daughter and I had been talking about unique things or places that are close by and I mentioned the tiny chapel that is in the county across the river from where we live. She hadn't ever seen it for some reason, so I was trying to describe it to her. Her husband spoke up and said that he knew exactly where it was and asked if we wanted to go for a ride. Naturally, my daughter and I said "Yes!". We both grabbed our cameras, put the grandson in his booster seat in the car and off we went.

grandislandshrine The first stop was the Grand Island Shrine over in Colusa County. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, it's also a California Point of Historical Interest. The inscription on the plaque for the California Point of Historical Interest says:

"Site of the first Catholic mass to be said in Colusa County, May 1856. In 1864, a Catholic mission was conducted and a large wooden cross erected to commemorate the occasion. Masses, pilgrimages and visits were made here continuously thereafter. In order to preserve the identity of the place, Father Michael Wallrath secured a deed from Mrs. Anna Myers to this parcel of land and constructed a small shrine from hand kilned bricks in 1883."

grandislandshrine-int As you can see in the photos, the chapel or shrine is small. There is only room for maybe 4 people inside the building if they stand close together. The chapel doors are unlocked and it's available for people to go in and light candles and pray. There were fresh flowers in vases on the altar and one candle was burning. In the picture to the right, I am standing just outside the door, no zoom on the camera, no special effects or flash was used. So you can see how small the shrine is. We didn't spend a lot of time at the chapel, but we were there long enough for my 5 year old grandson to spot a lizard sunning himself on the wall. Naturally, being a 5 year old little boy, he had to do some investigating of the lizard.. lol.. My daughter tried to get a picture of it, but I'm not sure that she caught it. I'll be honest. I didn't even see the lizard. I was on the wrong side of the chapel when they saw it and by the time I got around to that side, the lizard had climbed up the wall to one of the ledges. Oh well. No lizard picture for me! lol

When we left there, my daughter and started talking about other places in the area that we had been to or heard about in the past and one of the places we both remembered stories about was what was known as the "witches grave" at one of the old cemeteries in the area. I don't remember how the stories went, it's been too many years, so I won't be spinning the tale of the witch that is buried in a cemetery near the Sutter Buttes. I will say that the stories of the witch's grave center around two different cemeteries and your guess is as good as mine about which one was the source of the stories. One cemetery is on the north side of the Buttes, the "Pennington" or "North Butte" cemetery and one on the west side, the Noyesburg cemetery. mcmurtrymonument We drove around the Buttes and found the northern cemetery. We parked and wandered around the old cemetery, reading the headstones as best we could. The earliest marker is from 1859 and the latest is from last year. The McMurtry monument shown in the picture to the left is one of the most complete and the most striking one that is left. There are a more than a few that have been so weathered that you can barely read the inscriptions and there are also some that have suffered vandalism. Some are laying in pieces and some have whole chunks missing. northbuttecemetery1There are also a few that look like they were recently placed, perhaps to replace the ruined or vandalized marker of a family ancestor. The one new grave in this small cemetery had an epitaph that puzzled us, so I looked it up when we got back home. The epitaph said "The char-à-banc doesn't stop here anymore." I didn't know what "char-à-banc" meant! According to, it means "a large bus used on sightseeing tour". And I looked up the name of the man buried there. He was from Sacramento, but his family/ancestors were some of the early settlers who farmed and ranched around the Sutter Buttes in the 1800's, so he is buried here in this small, old cemetery with his ancestors.

stohlmancemetery The other old cemetery we visited was on the south side of the Buttes. It's called the Stohlman Cemetery. Apparently it is a family cemetery and the earliest marker there is from 1859. The markers there have been vandalized as well. I will never understand what the "thrill" is for idiots to go into a cemetery and destroy the memorials. We wandered around reading the markers that remain while noting that a lot of the memorials had silk flowers placed nearby, we replaced a few of the flowers that had blown over. My grandson saw my daughter and I replace a couple and then he decided that was his job. Every time he saw a flower that wasn't where it should be, he picked it up and put it near one of the head stones.

sloughschool After leaving here, my son-in-law took us by one of the old one room schools in this area that is still standing. From what I've heard, there are a few of the old school houses still standing in the county. It would be interesting to do some hunting and see how many I could find. I have no idea of the history of the Slough School building, since I haven't found much information about it on google yet. Ah well.. Another day. And another tour of the area. lol...

cormorantJPG The last stops we made on our little tour yesterday were near the Sutter Bypass. As we slowly drove along the levee road and then down onto a bridge over the channel that had a locked gate at the other end, I spotted a cormorant sitting on a log in the middle of the channel sunning himself. Since we were stopped in the middle of that bridge anyway, I got out and took a couple pictures of the bird. This log was just downstream from the old bridge that people used to drive over. bypassbridge1 The roadbed leading to the bridge is long gone and the bridge itself is rusting away. Further across the bypass, there is still a portion of the raised roadbed standing, but it's not connected to this bridge anymore either... I'd like to add one more picture to this blog entry, but I didn't take it. It was one that my daughter caught of the cormorant taking off. And since she's at work right now, I can't even ask her for the picture. I'll have to give her a call later tonight and perhaps add the picture then...

Anyway.. I hope everyone had a lovely day yesterday! I sure did!


Anonymous said...

It is truly encouraging to hear of a family appreciating history and each other. So many families are too busy or too fractured to spend such a lovely day together. You built memories for your daughter and grandson that will remain forever. It's nice to hear of a caring son-in-law who isn't too harried and busy to share a quiet day with his wife and her mother.A sense of respect for what came before is a good example for your grandson,too. Days such as this help make life more enjoyable. A friend in Texas.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this, well done.