Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Better Day Than Halloween...

...for a Graveyard Rabbit to celebrate a blogiversary?

Back in 2008, I was pleased and honored to be asked by the late Terry Thornton to be a charter member  of his new project, The Association of Graveyard Rabbits.

What is a Graveyard Rabbit? From About The GYRabbit Association:
Welcome to The Association Of Graveyard Rabbits – an association dedicated to the academic promotion of the historical importance of cemeteries, grave markers, and the family history to be learned from a study of burial customs, burying grounds, and tombstones; and the social promotion of the study of cemeteries, the preservation of cemeteries, and the transcription of genealogical/historical information written in cemeteries.

The Association Of Graveyard Rabbits was founded by Terry Thornton (Mississippi) with assistance from footnoteMaven (Washington) and Bob Franks (Mississippi). The Association Of Graveyard Rabbits is authored by Terry Thornton of The GYRabbit of The Hill Country. It features a weekly article with links to all of the articles written by the membership and a weekly feature devoted to the introduction of one of the members. Members are in contact with each other through their blogs, through a frequent Graveyard Rabbit e-Letter, and through interaction at the Graveyard Rabbit Group at Facebook. Additional publications planned include an e-Quarterly and an e-Annual.

The Association publication is implementing an articles and links library created with the contributions of its members. Discussions are ongoing about a Cemetery of the Year Award sponsored by The Association of Graveyard Rabbits.


The Association was named for Frank Lebby Stanton's poem, The Graveyard Rabbit. Although the poem is about superstitions associated with graveyard rabbits, Stanton also establishes that such rabbits have a charmingly intimate knowledge of graveyards and a loving association with the dead. These traits are the motivation of the human beings interested in this group.
I have only lived on the Central Coast for 7 years, but I have to say, the cemeteries here are gorgeous! I mean, who wouldn't want to be buried here?

It's true: the dead at the Santa Barbara Cemetery have a better view of the ocean than most of the living. I've already told my husband to bury me there, but at $20k+ per plot, I sincerely doubt that will happen!

And during my cemetery research and travels, I was surprised to discover a member of my own extended family buried in the Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura. As a 2nd generation Californian, it's not often that I find family I didn't know about buried here, especially on the Central Coast (most of my family migrated to the Inland Empire).

Although life has kept me busy, and I've often neglected this blog, my commitment to cemeteries and the history they preserve has never wavered. I hope that I have honored Mr. Thornton's memory by continuing to participate as a member of his project.

If you love cemeteries and would like to join the Association, please visit The Association of Graveyard Rabbits and click the JOIN button to fill out the application.

Thank you for hopping by today!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, October 26, 2012

Calif. cemetery-turned-dog park keeps tombstone from burial site

There's an interesting story this morning from CBS News about a woman from Carson City, Nevada, who tried to return a Spanish American War soldier's grave marker to the "cemetery" where he is buried:
A tombstone honoring a Spanish-American war soldier remains separated from the ground where the man's body was buried because that cemetery has been converted into a dog park.

CBS Los Angeles reports that a decades-long controversy over a recreational park continued when Cindy Southerland of Carson City Nevada traveled miles to Ventura, Calif. To return a tombstone her husband found in a canyon in the mid-1960's.

The headstone honored Edward Baker, a veteran of the Spanish-American war who died at 44 in 1913.

He was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery, but that land was turned into a recreational space about five decades ago.

Today, dogs and pedestrians play above nearly 3,000 bodies that remain buried at the grave site.
Read the rest of the story here. (Emphasis above added by me.)

Video from KCAL9

If you haven't heard the sad story of St. Mary's Cemetery, you can learn more at Restore St. Mary's Cemetery. What is truly unfortunate is that the majority of area residents prefer that the property be used as a dog park rather than it's intended purpose of a cemetery.

So... how would you feel to discover that your ancestor's final resting place was now a public potty for dogs?

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunday October 28, 2012 is "Visit a Cemetery Day"

I received the following press release from yesterday. It appears to be legitimate; although my first thought was that Mr. Colin Firth must be having trouble finding work in the movie industry. It's obviously a different Colin Firth... anyway, check it out for yourself. At any rate, the Cemetery Search game looks like fun, and I may drag my family out to play it (good reading practice for my kid).

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"Visit a Cemetery Day" is a day in which everyone comes together to show their support for the historical and social importance cemeteries have in their community. Not only are cemeteries the best place to learn about the rich history of a community, they are also a place where a person can trace their ancestry through the generations.

"Visit a Cemetery Day" isn't just a day to commemorate those who came before, but rather it encourages people to embrace the celebration of life and to learn about the people who've helped shape each and every community across North America.

Whether it’s to bring flowers, wreaths or other tributes to the final resting places of family members and friends, take a quiet walk along the paths, photograph headstones and mausoleums, or study the engravings etched on headstones, "Visit A Cemetery Day" is also a wonderful opportunity to spend a beautiful autumn day with family and friends and visit the gravesites of ancestors and departed friends, before the cooler temperatures of winter arrive.

On "Visit A Cemetery Day," everyone is encouraged to take the time to visit a local cemetery to show their respect to those who came before and also enjoy an interesting and memorable day with family and friends, because every life is worth celebrating and remembering.

For further information please visit or contact founder Colin Firth at for more information.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Upcoming Event: Celebrate Day of the Dead at Mission San Antonio de Padua

Mission San Antonio de Padua as it appears today.

Join historian Daniel Krieger for a rare opportunity to experience a traditional religious ceremony celebrating the Day of the Dead at California's third-oldest and most remote mission, San Antonio de Padua, at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, October 29, 2011.

The mass will be the same Latin Mass that was celebrated on that site in 1771. There will be prayers chanted in the Salinan language by tribal elders and children.

An especially joyful part of the liturgy will be the music by Remie Campomenosi, John Warren, the choir from Mission San Miguel and guest singers.

The "Angus Dei" (Lamb of God) is from "La Misa en Sol," composed by Padre Juan Bautista Sancho, O.F.M. (1772-1830), who led the best-known of mission orchestras at Mission San Antonio. Father Sancho is buried at the foot of Mission San Antonio's altar.

Mission San Antonio is about 30 miles northwest of Camp Roberts along Monterey County Road G-18, reached at the Jolon turnoff.

Be sure to carry your auto registration and proof of insurance, as well as identification for all passengers, to enter Fort Hunter-Liggett, which surrounds the mission. MAP.

For more information, see Dan Krieger: Past lives at mission on Day of the Dead.

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Daniel E. Krieger Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of history at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and past president of the California Mission Studies Association. He is the author of TIMES PAST, Historical Features Column, San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune, a weekly column dealing with Central Coast History which has run uninterrupted since January, 1984.

Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Upcoming Event: Old Mission San Luis Obispo Cemetery Tour

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa c. 1909

Families and individuals are invited to join historian Daniel Krieger this Halloween, Monday, October 31, 2011, at 4:30 P.M., for a free tour of the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Old Cemetery.

Meet at the Bridge Street entrance, near the intersection of Beebe and Bridge, in back of the Pacific Coast Center.

You will be taking a look at the last resting places of San Luis Obispo's pioneers Ah Louis, Josefa Carrillo Dana and her husband, William Godwin Dana, Pierre Hypolite Dallidet, and many more final resting places of San Luis Obispo's "gone but not forgotten."

This is a "non-scary" (great for children) look at how graveyards reflect periods of history such as the sentimentality of the Victorian era and the role that the deceased played in the making of our community.

Bring flashlights and wear brightly colored clothes.

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Daniel E. Krieger Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of history at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and past president of the California Mission Studies Association. He is the author of TIMES PAST, Historical Features Column, San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune, a weekly column dealing with Central Coast History which has run uninterrupted since January, 1984.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal