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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


Teena in Toronto said...

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