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Monday, August 24, 2009

The Great Restoration - Collegeville Cemetery, San Joaquin County


When fellow member of the San Joaquin County Genealogical Society told me about a man who was restoring a cemetery in San Joaquin County, I jumped to investigate. Not since the Harmony Grove Church Cemetery Restoration Project in Lockeford has there been such an undertaking.

Mr. Bob Anglin has been spending much of his spare time at the Collegeville Cemetery located at the corner of South Jack Tone Road and East Mariposa, about 6 miles east of Stockton.

Bob’s 2nd great grandfather’s sister is the wife of Alexander McDonald David Mc Intosh. Alexander or AMD as he was called, arrived in San Joaquin County in 1860 along with five brothers and at least one sister. The first land he owned was 160 acres sold to him by his father in law Job Anglin at less than $1 per acre. Within fifteen years he owned 1200 acres. His brother James C Mc Intosh, was a math teacher at San Joaquin College (Morris College) built in 1867 at the corner opposite the cemetery. Alexander was a resident in O'Neal township for nearly 40 years. His son George worked for the first telephone company in the valley. His brother in law James Garwood donated land to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1867. The Alexander children attended McKamy School which later became Collegeville School. The Collegeville School website had this to offer about the area:

“Educational services have been provided on the site of Collegeville School since 1867 when it was part of Chalmer Ranch, a stopping place for freight wagons and stage coaches on their way to the Mother Load. The name was changed to Collegeville when Morris College was established on five acres of the ranch, by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.”

While on a trip to the area to see the site of his Anglin family’s homestead, he came upon the cemetery. The cemetery was in complete shambles. Vandals had made off with grave markers. Mr. Anglin told me that he knows of a few cases where the markers were likely used as Halloween decorations in the front yards of nearby homes.

There is a possibility that some of the monuments have been found at Little John Creek, however, Bob is still awaiting verification.

Bob located and contacted the land owner of the cemetery. The owner’s daughter, Janie Gilgert had begun to gather supplies to start with the restoration. A local steel company had donated the sign out on Mariposa Road, a local fencing company donated over 100 used T posts and will run the wire for the fence at a reduced cost. Locals have trimmed trees and pulled weeds, and used a backhoe to removed dead trees..

As for the actual gravesites, Bob told me that much of the granite and most of the stencils that are used when he sandblasts the headstone inscriptions have been donated by John T. Robinson from Cornerstone Monument Company in Oakdale. Bob supplies all the labor for the headstones. The Veterans Administration will be supplying a headstone for one of the burials in the cemetery - Reverend Asbury Parks Black who was a Methodist minister and a veteran of the Civil War.

Bob has donated 100 amaryllis bulbs (naked ladies) to plant near headstones, additional fence posts, hundreds of feet of pvc pipe for the much needed sprinkler system. In reading some notes on the cemetery from the 1930’s, Bob learned that river rock had been used to surround the Walrad family plot so he brought in 100 four inch river rock to try and reconstruct the scene and has many more loads of rock to bring in. The owner of the property next to the cemetery has agreed to supply the water.

I asked Mr. Anglin if he had researched all the burials in the cemetery and could he account for all of them. He replied that he volunteered as a Family History Consultant and therefore knows the historic importance of the project. He has collected records from the San Joaquin Historical Society Library, the Haggin Museum Library, the San Joaquin County Recorder’s Office, descendants of the people buried in the cemetery. He says that he has positively identified 37 burials, but thinks that there may be as many as 50 or 60. The use of a ground penetrating radar system to locate all the burials would be ideal, if they could find someone to donate the service. If anyone has knowledge of any burial at Collegeville Cemetery or any old photos they could share, Bob is most anxious to hear from you!

UPDATE: CSI, 532 West Harding, Stockton, CA has agreed to try and locate the burials. The owners of CSI needed an opportunity to test new equipment. If it works, then they will survey the entire cemetery with their ground penetrating radar equipment as a public service to the community.


San Joaquin County District 4 Supervisor Ken Vogel has contributed to this project and has planned a dedication ceremony for the cemetery in April 2010.
Bob says that there is still work to be done and that they can always use a helping hand. Interested in helping? Send an email to Bob Anglin -

PHOTOS - Courtesy of Tim Cook, Stockton, California

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Creative Cremains - Now You Can Go Out In Style

Tired of the same old way to store a loved one's cremated remains? Well look no further. Creative Cremains, located in San Francisco, California, is a company co-owned by David Riccomi and Rena Fregosi. They have at their disposal a network of local artists and can commission an urn that captures the spirit of the deceased. The artists work in a variety of media: Ceramics, Clay Urns, Sculptures, Stained Glass, Memorial Plaques, Bronze Portrait Busts just about anything you could imagine.

They can also alter just about anything to hold ashen remains, from knickknacks to sporting goods. Some examples of modification of existing objects are collectibles, sports equipment, jewelry, books, statues, musical instruments, walking sticks, fishing rods and picture frames.

Co-Owner David Riccomi says, when he dies, he wants his ashes encased in fishing rods that will be distributed to family and friends. Then, long after he's gone, he says, he'll still be able to go fishing.

Because the business won't be scattering remains, it doesn't require state licensing. Riccomi and Fregosi say, however, that they have established strict guidelines in an effort to reassure customers they will handle the remains carefully and with respect.

The very best part of all is the very affordable prices. The minimum cost of converting a memento into an urn is $150. Prices for custom-designed urns vary substantially, but usually start at about $2,000. You can find about the same price range for standard urns sold through funeral homes. The only limits at this place are your imagination and finances.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Exceptional Find

During Victorian Times is was popular to make jewelry from a deceased loved one's hair. The bracelet below was made by tightly weaving the hair into this intricate design.

Here in the 21st century, there is a new way to have jewelry made from your deceased loved one.

LifeGem®. Forever. Like the memory of a loved one, a diamond lasts forever.

The LifeGem® is a certified, high-quality diamond created from the carbon of your loved one as a memorial to their unique life, or as a symbol of your personal and precious bond with another.

Their patented technology is designed to capture almost all of the available carbon in an 8 oz. portion of existing cremated remains. The carbon is then heated to extremely high temperatures under special conditions. While this process removes the existing ash it converts the carbon to an extemely pure level of graphite. The graphite is then placed into a diamond press which replicates how a diamond is naturally formed. The more time in the press, the larger the rough diamond crystal. Then the diamond cutters facet the stone according to your specifications.

Let me tell you something, this is definitely not for those who are on a budget. For a stone with a carat size of .20 to .29 it will run you about $3500. The prices go up according to the carat size with the largest being .90 to .99. This has a price tag of $19,999.00. The setting is extra.

But as the song goes.."Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend"

Written for the Graveyard Rabbit Carnival

Photo of hair bracelet courtesy of Musee McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wabbit Wheelie !

Aw Jeez, I KNOW it's not a cemetery or headstone. But it sure is funnier than hell don't ya think?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

All Dogs Do Go To Heaven

And cats and even horses according to Sacramento Pet Cemetery and Crematory which is located just outside Sacramento, California. Family owned and operated they are a full service, one stop shop. They offer a wide variety of services and products.

Transportation - You may bring your pet directly to them during our regular business hours or they can pick up your pet from the veterinarian or from your home.

Cremations are offered with individual choices. Prices vary according to the size of the pet. Cremains will be returned to the owner or may be interred in special areas of the cemetery. (crematory on premises)

Pre-need (Pre-arrangement) - This future protection ensures that the best decision is made for your devoted companion. Pre-need arrangements also allow you to secure multiple plots together for all of your pets. The choice of interment or cremation as well as the selection of memorial, casket and/or cremation urn can be made in a relaxed atmosphere.

Endowment Care - They are a deeded and dedicated pet cemetery, a special endowment care fund has been set up for continued maintenance

Horse Burials - They have a special section for horses.

Country Garden Burial - This burial option offers a natural setting at a reduced cost. The individual gravesites are unmarked, however, markers for these pets will be placed on the central memorial plaque

Tombstones come in either

granite ( shown above)

or engraved river rock

(shown below)

Monday, February 2, 2009

A "New-To-Me" Cemetery Website

Greetings Rabbits! I have come across a website that is new to me and may be of interest to you. It covers the State of North Carolina and is called "Cemetery Census." Here is a description from from website:

"Cemetery Census is a strictly volunteer effort to record the burials in local family, religious and municipal cemeteries. We are not associated with any government agency, religious affiliation or commercial cemetery entity. This is strictly a labor of love by the many volunteers who collect, record, photograph and make available these valuable resources.
Allen Dew is the originator and driving force behind Cemetery Census. Allen started collecting cemetery records from several sources in 1995 and 1996. A few years later, Allen published these records on the Internet. The collection has grown to include several counties in central North Carolina.
Plans and capabilities have been put into place to expand the collection to other counties and states in the surrounding area. Partnerships have been established with Historical Associations and Genealogical Societies to import and display their cemetery information."

It also has a section that explains and defines cemetery law in North Carolina. This is a wonderful project completely done by volunteers. Take a few minutes and check it out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Little of This and A Little of That

Most of ye Graveyard Rabbits have found a niche. This Rabbit is still floundering, presenting a little of this and a little of that.

Along the way I have discovered some most excellent blogs and websites that I have to share with you. Some are Graveyard Rabbits, some are not. But all of them left some kind of impression upon me.

Up first is a blog called
Blogging A Dead Horse . Member of the Graveyard Rabbit Association, this blog is by far one of the most interesting. The selection of cemeteries chosen, the great photography and best of all is the writing. It is captivating, poignant and very moving. Here is a descriptive excerpt from the blog

"I collect grave site offerings, permanent and ephemeral. I am a digital archaeologist. I record objects brought to sacred ground to bask in and add to the spiritual powers present there. What I do is record a world that will be gone tomorrow. Like the river that is never the same whenever you step into it twice, the cemetery you visit will not be the same one I saw. I’m showing you the soft inside of the culture of the Oregon Territory as it stands at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It will never be seen again. Enjoy it while you can."

There is a collection of photographs from Dead Man Talking that further exemplify his talent. You can find them at or by clicking here.

Take a few minutes to explore the blog and the photo collection. I promise you won't be sorry.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My, What A Handsome Rabbit!

(I apologize for the total lack of self control, but I think it's funny!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brichetto's Tomb

The Brichetto Tomb sits all alone, high up on a hill overlooking what was once the vast lands of the Brichetto estate in San Joaquin County, California. Immigrants from Italy, G. Joseph, a pioneer farmer and merchant, and his wife, Luigia Canale, settled in the Banta area of San Joaquin County in the 1870’s. The mausoleum is made of marble and granite, built in the Grecian Doric style. The tomb sits alone on one acre of land that is enclosed by a wrought iron fence. Built in 1916 according to the provisions of the will of G. Joseph Brichetto, the tomb contains twelve crypts but only six have been used.

G. Joseph Brichetto 23 Dec 1841 to 22 May 1916
Luicia Brichetto 18 Feb 1860 to 12 Dec 1956
Irene L. Brichetto 7 Jun 1884 to 10 Sep 1945
John N. Brichetto 5 Feb 1881 to 3 Mar 1934
Baby Edward 13 Jan 1883 to 11 Dec 1883
Baby Henery 14 Dec 1885 to 25 Nov 1886

The wrought iron fence that encloses the acre of land was made by Stewart Iron Works Company who are still in business to this very day.

There is nothing quite like this in all of San Joaquin County. I decided to do a little research about this family who commanded such a grand place of eternal rest.

G. Joseph Brichetto came to San Joaquin County in 1867. He was employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in tunnel construction for a time; he then settled in the San Joaquin gardens on the river, and later located in Banta, where he raised and sold vegetables. In 1872 he opened a general merchandise store at Banta, which he conducted for many years. He became a large farmer and landowner in the Banta section, owning, at the time of his death in 1916, 9,000 acres of land on the West Side. I found this little article about him in an Ohio newspaper:

13 September 1917
When an inheritance tax report was fixed in the estate of the late G. Joseph Brichetto, it was shown that he came to California with a capital of $40 and in 40 years accumulated an estate of $333,279.35

There were seven Brichetto children born and five who lived to adulthood:

John N. Brichetto was born 5 February 1881 and died 3 March 1934. He formed a partnership with his brother, Joseph C., under the name of Brichetto Bros. which is known for their grain farming. John was the president of the Board of Directors of the Banta-Carolinia Irrigation District which cared for the irrigation of some 20,000 acres in the Tracy and Banta districts. He also became prominent in banking circles becoming director in both the San Joaquin Valley National Bank of Stockton and the Bank of Tracy. In 1916 he married Nancy Kneass.

Irene Brichetto was born 7 June 1884 and died 10 September 1945. She never married.

Mollie Brichetto was born 12 September 1887 and died 2 June 1965. She married Joseph J. Raspo in 1911. Joseph was employed by Mollie’s father in the general merchandise store the Brichettos owned. In 1917 he acquired a one-third interest in the concern and its trade, and in November, 1918, he became sole proprietor, purchasing the business from the Brichetto heirs.

Minnie Cecelia Brichetto was born 8 October 1889 died 6 December 1989. She never married.

Joseph C. Brichetto was born 18 February 1894 and died 20 August 1976. Joseph became the manager of the vast agricultural interests of the Brichetto estate, consisting of several thousand acres of land on the West Side, which he developed into one of the show places of Central California. He married Eva Campodonico in 1921.

Photos curtesy of Brian W. Barringer

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

After The Fact, After The Fact

Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Elk County, Kansas

I have made some progress towards finding the answers to questions I posed in my post "Engraving After The Fact" .

A saint of a woman named Ruth Walker has been patiently finding answers to the endless questions I keep tossing her way. Ruth is the parish secretary for St. Mary's Catholic Church in Moline, Elk County, Kansas. St. Mary's is the "caretaker" of Mount Olivet Cemetery. My 3rd great grandparents - Daniel Derondo Delaney and his wife Ellen Collins are buried there as well as my other 3rd great grandmother - Ann Emily Leseure Sheern.

Ruth could only answer questions about the Delaney's. Ann Emily Leseure Sheern was buried before 1900 and Holy Name Catholic Church would have those records.

Ruth explained to me that they were originally buried at Boston Catholic Cemetery which was located in the now defunct county of Howard. The headstones were moved to Mount Olivet in 1961 but it is possible that the remains were not.

As to specific questions about the plot purchased by E.F. Sheern in 1911 she replied, "I can only speculate what your ancestor was thinking but you would assume he purchased the lots when Mount Olivet was very new, then moved to a new community and decided to be buried there. He may have known he would not be buried in Mount Olivet and so gave permission for the graves to be relocated in his lots or someone in his immediate family gave permission for the graves to be moved there. We do not know this. "

The question as to the care and upkeep of Mount Olivet got this response:

"We do not have a "sexton" as such. St. Mary's is a small, (less than 50 families) rural parish. Most everything is done by volunteers. We do hire the mowing done in the summer months. Our funds mostly come from former parishioners living elsewhere that help support the cemetery. The iron fence in front of the cemetery is painted by volunteers. The barbed wire fence on three sides is maintained by volunteers. When we need to repaint the large statue [see photo above] in the middle of the cemetery some member or former member will donate the money and a professional is hired. Graves are dug by the city of Moline. I keep the books and if you want to purchase a plot you would need to visit with me.
Many times lots are purchased as the purchaser wants to buried by family, then they move to another community, become involved in that community and decide they want to be buried there or the ones making the final arrangements want them buried there and so the lots in the original cemetery are vacant. We have that at Mount Olivet. We would hope
they would donate the lots back to us or we would buy them back, but many times this is not done. And I do know of instances where they did not notify any of their heirs that they owned the lots and so they cannot return what they do not know about. "

Next Stop - Holy Name Catholic Church !