Yosemite Pioneer Cemetery

Yosemite Pioneer Cemetery

I’ve added this “page” to the main menu because I found it more useful when actually visiting the cemetery. Though cellular service is sparse in Yosemite, there seems to be enough service to reach this website from the cemetery. Have removed the four-part series on the cemetery in favor of this page.

The cemetery was set aside in this place sometime back when Yosemite was still under the supervision of the State of California. Speculation has it at about 1870. At that time, at least two other grave sites were moved to this location.

The numbering of the markers is, somewhat arbitrary and do not reflect a chronological order. The first one buried at this cemetery is listed just as “A Boy” (see item #29). The last was Gertrude “Cosie” Hutchings Mills, the daughter of James M. Hutchtings in 1956. She is likely to be the last one buried at this cemetery. (see item #4, below).

[1]

There was no special right to be buried in this cemetery, it was mostly as matter of convenience (or inconvenience, depending on how you look at it) and, occasionally, a request. One such request was from a man, now buried there, not only by choice, but in fact had picked out, dug and delineated his own grave — 20 years in advance (see item # 12). Of the 45 markers, 8 were children.

 

 

 

 

1) Henry Eddy, Died October 10, 1910. He was a day laborer and was found dead of natural causes in his tent.

 

 

 

 

 

2) Frank Bockerman, July 9, 1910. He came from Coulterville looking for work in the park and was found, sick, under a tree. He was taken to the Army hospital where he died.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) William Bonney Atkinson, a youngster of just three years old died, April 15, 1902. He was born in the Valley June 25, 1898 and was the son of Charles and Nell Atkinson. His father was an employee of the State of California. Though Yosemite was a national park by this time, the Valley (and Mariposa Grove) were still being managed by California as part of the Yosemite Grant.

 

 

 

4) A giant stone in this marked off area denotes the Hutchings’ Family burial site. James Mason Hutchings, born February 20, 1824[2] a prominent promoter of Yosemite was the first to publish a tour of Yosemite in 1855. He published and wrote a magazine, was proprietor of one of the earliest hotels in the valley (Hutchings House), and was even a park Guardian for a time. He was on a buggy trip just outside the park when a horse bolted and he and his wife were thrown. His wife, Emily, only slightly injured, survived the accident, but James died in her arms on October 31, 1902. Florence Hutchings, the daughter of James and Elvira Hutchings and the first white child born in the valley, died from complications of an accident on the Ledge Trail (that crawled up the face of Glacier Point, which is now closed), September 26, 1881. She was 17 years old when she passed and only about six weeks before her step-mother, Augusta who died in November 6, 1881. Also, Gertrude (Cosie) Hutchings Mills, born October 5, 1867 and died May 20, 1956. She was 88. She was last person buried at this cemetery.

 

 

 

5) This is an additional marker that commemorates James Hutchings passing. It says, “In memory of James Mason Hutchings. Pioneer Patriot.”

 

 

6) Effie Crippen, was only 14 when she died August 31, 1881. According to one account, she was wading in Mirror Lake when she stepped on a broken, discarded wine bottle severing an artery. There are two accounts, which paint a different picture, published in the Mariposa Gazette that suggest Effie succumbed after a long illness. “…her death has been a protracted one, and her death was not wholly unexpected…” from September 3, 1881. Also, on September 10, 1881, “…she had been ill for a long time, and when at last the summons came for her to bid farewell to earth, she obeyed without a struggle…” She and Florence Hutchings were friends. Florence sang at Effie’s funeral which was less than a month before Florence, herself, died. Her epitaph reads, “In memory of Effie Maid Crippen Died Aug 31st 1881 Age 14 Years 7 Mos 22 Days. She faltered by the wayside and the angels took her home.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

7) Mrs Laura Cannon and her husband were visitors to Yosemite (staying at the Stoneman House) when Laura passed away in the summer of 1895. Her stone says, “Laura Milner Cannon Bloomington, Ill 1868 Yosemite 1895.”

 

 

8)   Thomas Glynn and his wife Elizabeth operated the Mountain House Hotel at Glacier Point. Thomas passed away December 19, 18813. His marker reads, “To the memory of Thomas Glynn, Mexican War Veteran, Died Oct 18, 1881.” Galen Clark officiated at the funeral held in Yosemite Valley on December 21st and gave the following eulogy:

Friends: We have again assembled at another house of mourning, in the solemn presence of death, to  perform the last sad duties, which we can render unto the mortal remains of our deceased friend. This makes the sixth one of our little community, which, within the past six months, have passed from our midst over to the silent land[4]. After long months of sickness and fearful suffering, the Angel of Death has pleased to release his immortal spirit and it has taken its flight to the celestial spheres. After having periled his life on many hard-fought battle field, serving his country with distinction and honor through the late war, he has, while fighting the more peaceful battles of life been vanquished, and had to surrender to the invincible enemy of all life, which found him brave to the last. Why a fellow-mortal should be doomed to such long and terrible suffering and tribulation, struggling in the cold grasp of Death, absolutely without hope and trust that it has been for preparing his immortal soul for higher and nobler spheres of action in the spirit realm. GOD UNDERSTANDS! May the bereaved and forlorn widow, whose home, and whose heart, have now been made desolate by the loss of her kind and affectionate husband and helpmate, try and seek consolation in the knowledge, that throughout all these long and terrible trials, she has most faithfully, patiently, and nobly done her whole duty. When her weary, failing, mortal body has seemed about to succumb, and sunk under its great load of anxiety and care, her internal, immortal, and indomitable spirit has rushed to the rescue with Herculean power, and rallied the muscular forces again to action, and to duty. She has the sincere sympathy of all her friends in her lonely course to the sunset of life. There are many and widely different ideas with regard to a future spiritual state of existence after death; almost all people, both civilized and savage, firmly believe in it, under some condition or form. It seems a very happy and consoling hope or faith, to believe that all our various earthly trials and tribulations are for a wise and good purpose, if patiently endured, and our duties well and faithfully performed. Every trial may be likened unto the work of the graving chisel of the Great Sculptor of Creation, on the embryo soul. If they are firmly borne without faltering or flinching, perfectly engraven lines will be the result. Thus line upon line of harmonious beauty will be engraven  and developed upon the form of the unborn spirit, which, when freed from its mortal veil of flesh, will  stand forth in a form of inexpressible, angelic beauty, clothed in robes of celestial splendor, the  texture of which, mortals themselves make during life, as they go to and fro, faithfully performing  their duties, they fill the wool into the warp of life, until life and fabric are complete: every noble  deed well done forming in it a figure of marvelous and unique design, and crowned with a crown of glory,  whose encircling diadem is a transcendent light, too bright for mortal vision, before which inferior  spirits bow their heads and veil their faces with their long and shining tresses, feeling their  unworthiness. 

 

 

 

 

 

9) Agnes Amour Leidig, another child in this cemetery was the second of 8 children, and wasn’t quite two years old when she died. Her parents were Inn Keepers, running “the Lower House” for Alexander Black. Agnes was born in Coulterville, February 24, 1867 and succumbed from food poisoning December 21, 1868. Her marker, mistakenly, reads, “Agnes Leidig, Died Dec 1869”

 

 

 

 

 

 

10) Albert May was a carpenter and caretaker at Black’s Hotel. He died at the age of 51 on October 23, 1881. His headstone says, “In memory of Albert May, A native of Ohio. Died Oct. 23, 1881. Aged 51 years. May his soul rest in peace. Erected by his friend, A.G. Black”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11) James Chenowith Lamon (pronounced “Leh-MON”) died May 22, 1875. He was the first white settler to build a cabin in Yosemite. He is the brother of Robert Bruce Lamon who led a tour of the valley prior to James Hutchings, however, there was never a published record of it. He was a fixture of the early valley life and was a friend of Galen Clark. An existing apple orchard near Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) was originally planted by Lamo.

 

 

 

Galen Clark Grave Marker

 

 

 

12) Galen Clark first came to Yosemite in 1855 after reading about it in an article written by James Hutchings. Shortly thereafter, Galen was given six months to live after being diagnosed with Consumption (Tuberculosis is what it’s called today). He moved, permanently, to Yosemite in 1857 “to die” as he put it but lived a long and productive life. He founded what is now the Big Trees Lodge (formerly Wawona Hotel), was instrumental in getting President Lincoln to grant to California both Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees (which Galen had discovered and named), became the first Superintendent of the park and lived to the rip old age of 95 (just a few days short of his 96th birthday). He even picked out his own grave site, dug it, delineated it with 6 Sequoia saplings (4 of which are still growing) and carved out his own head stone some twenty years before he passed. He died March 12, 1910.

I am concerned about this site. You can see how big the saplings have become since they were planted (in the late 1800s) and we are all well aware how big they can get. I am concerned that some well-meaning soul will want to relocate the site to avoid these trees (which they almost certainly will) merging together and decimating his grave. I am positive that Galen was well aware of this eventuality and will bet he planted those saplings and chose this site IN ORDER to become one with the trees.

A more appropriate issue is what to do with the adjacent graves in this cemetery.

 

George Fiske Grave Marker

 

 

 

 

13) George and Carrie Fiske were residents of the Valley. George was a noted photographer and extremely close friends with Galen Clark. His later years, life seemed to be one tragedy after another. His studio burnt down in 1904. Galen Clark’s passing in 1910 was very hard on him. He lost his wife in 1917 and after being diagnosed with a brain  tumor and suffering from terrible head aches, he took his own life on October 20, 1918 one day before his eighty-third birthday.

 

 

Carrie Fiske Grave Marker

 

 

 

 

14) Caroline (Carrie) Fiske. Died December 30, 1917[5]

 

 

 

 

 

15) Hazel Caroline Meyer was about 3 ½ years when she passed away on July 5, 1905. She was the daughter of George and Lizzie Meyer, pioneers who settled just outside the park boundaries. Lizzie Meyer, was the Niece of James McCauley who had carved out the 4-Mile Trail from the Valley Floor to Glacier Point. Her stone reads, “In memory of Hazel Caroline, Daughter of Geo. and Lizzie Meyers, Jan. 22, 1902, July 5, 1905.”

 

 

16) Gabriel Sovulewski was a member of the Army that administered the park and continued to serve after he became a civilian. He acted as Superintendent and Supervisor for over 35 years. He was buried November 29, 1938.

 

 

 

 

17) His wife, Rose Sovulewski, died prior to her husband, Gabriel, on August 28, 1928.

 

 

 

 

 

 

18) Leonidas G “Dick” Whorton was a Justice of the Peace and a Grand Marshall of Parades. He was a part owner of the Lake House at Mirror Lake. He was shot and killed April 4, 1887 by Abel Mann. Mann was acquitted of the murder charge, but some years later tried to cut his wife’s throat and committed suicide when surrounded by a posse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19) John Hamilton was a guide. He lived in the valley and died June 21, 1881. His was the first funeral service held in the Yosemite Chapel constructed only 3 years earlier (almost to the day).[6]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20)  George Anderson was the first to climb Half Dome, which until that time was said to be impossible (by “Knower of all things — Josiah “I Have Spoken” Whitney), on October 12 1875 and was leading tourists to the top less than a week later. He lived in Foresta, west of the Valley in a cabin which has been taken down and moved to the Wawona Pioneer Museum. He acted as a trail guide and actually laid out trails, including the one from Happy Isles to Vernal Falls. He died May 8, 1884 of pneumonia.

 

This is the cabin built and used by George Anderson. Was moved to the Wawona Pioneer Museum display.

 

 

 

 

 

 

21) David Wood died in 1884. He had rebuilt the Tamarack House after it had burnt down in 1870s. Tamarack Flat was a stopping point on the trail to Yosemite from Coulterville. He was attending cattle for John B Curtin at Tamarack Flat when he died. I have found no information on the cause of death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22) B Cavagnaro was a storekeeper in the old village. He died September 9, 1885.

 

 

 

 

 

23) John C Anderson was an early pioneer to the valley; one of four that took up residence in the mid 1850s. He was one of four men that built what became the “Lower House.” He was killed by a horse on July 5, 1867. He was originally buried at the base of the 4-Mile trail (near the home of George Fiske), but was later moved to the Pioneer Cemetery. There is an interesting tale that says John’s Locust Wood Switch that was stuck into the ground to mark his grave, sprouted and the Locust trees in the valley are its descendents. His head stone reads, “In memory of John C Anderson, who was killed by a horse on the 5th of July, 1867. Aged 55 years. He was beloved by all. Be ye also for ye know not the hour of the Son of Man cometh. Dearest Brother thou had left us. Here thy loss, we deeply feel”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24) Infant Coyle. Walter Coyle of Groveland worked in the valley on occasion. On this occasion, he was camping with his family when the baby passed away. There is no mention of the baby’s name, gender, cause of death or the date. One account suggests it was some time in the 1890s. It appears the baby was the first born of 4 other siblings; the oldest of them was born in 1899. The marker just says “Infant Coyle”.[7]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25) Albert Baldwin Glasscock died July 9, 1897, by some accounts, of a stroke. He had taken over the Barnard House (in 1893) and renamed it Sentinel House where he passed away. His head stone reads, “To remember A.B. Glasscock. Born Sept 3, 1843, Died June 9, 1897. Age 53 yrs 9 mos 6 days. A native of Missouri”

 

 

 

 

 

 

26) James Morgan died July 10, 1901. His wife, Mary passed away in June 1919, was cremated and placed by his side. James was a visitor to the park and died of unknown causes. His stone, all but completely illegible now, reads, “James Morgan 162nd Ohio Volunteers Died July 10, 1901. Aged 68 years. 11 mon”. In commemoration of his wife’s passing, a brass plate was placed on the head stone that reads, “The ashes of his wife Mary L Morgan Also placed here June 1919”

 

 

27) An obelisk is placed at the grave of Sadie Schaeffer. She was a waitress at the Sentinel Hotel (employed by John Bruce Cook). She was with a friend, Johnny van Campen in a boat he had built. They were on the Merced River when they were caught in the rapids. Sadie was thrown and drowned in the summer of 1901. The inscriptions are: “Sadie Schaeffer Drowned in the Rapids, July 7, 1901, Native of Paokwauker, , Erected by her Companions. Ah that beauteous head if it did go down it carried sunshine into the rapids.”

 

 

 

 

28) Forest S Townsley was Yosemite’s Chief Ranger when he died of a heart attack August 11, 1943, near a lake in the high country that now bears his name. He had been with the Platt National Park in Nebraska when he came to Yosemite in 1913. He became the chief ranger in 1916 and as such, escorted Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt on a five-day back pack in the park. He was buried in the park by special permission of the director of the National Park Service. He had served in Yosemite for 30 years.

 

 

 

29) “A Boy” is on the marker and his identity has been lost. However, there was a report in the Mariposa Free Press stating John Morgan Bennett, son of Captain RH Bennett was drowned while attempting to cross a branch of the Merced River in June of 1870. According to Jack Leidig, he was the first to be buried at this new cemetery. The cemetery was first used in 1870.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30) “Frenchman” might be Etienne Manet. He used to sell vegetables that he grew in Lamon’s Orchard (near what is now Camp Curry’s parking lot). He was said to be “slightly demented.” He was found dead in his cabin. I have no details on the date of his passing. There is some dispute as to who the “Frenchman” really is, but if it is him, he passed sometime in the late 1880s or early 1890s.

 

 

 

 

31) This may be Henry Woolcott who was working on the “Coulterville-Yo Semite” wagon road, fell from a log while crossing Cascade Creek. He broke his neck on June 22, 1874. He was about 60 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32) “Boston”. This could be George Ezra Boston who was burned in a fire that consumed Bolton’s Toll house located at the Cascades just west of the Valley. If this was him, he would have died August 12, 1875. He was about 50 and native of Virginia. Apparently, Boston had invited three of the local tribesmen to eat with him including “Piute George”, a fugitive from justice. After dinner, Boston was shot in the back and his throat was slit and the station burned. Piute George was caught, taken into custody, tried, convicted and sent to San Quentin[8]. He (George) died in prison.

 

 

 

 

33) C. McKenzie died while camping in the valley near Galen Clark’s cabin (near the location of the Swinging Bridge). This was on September 6, 1897. He was 44 and born in Canada. He was a Carriage Builder from Los Angeles[9]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34) W.B. Madden died, May 24, 1887. He was visiting the park with his brother, a Colonel in the British Army, when he died suddenly while staying at the Sentinel Hotel. Madden was buried here for convenience as there were not the facilities to transport the body back to England. The marker reads, “A.W.B. Madden Died 1883” (incorrectly)

 

 

 

 

 

The following 11 sites are the remains of Native Americans from the Valley. The information on who they are came from a variety of sources, mostly as transcribed from conversations with Native Americans living in the valley at the time of the original research[10]. Information is sketchy, partly, because of the Miwok taboo of speaking the names of the dead. It wasn’t the custom of Miwok and Paiute people to mark their graves and, until 1873, remains were usually cremated. Consequently, it is not certain where many graves are located or even those that are marked actually represent where the graves are. This site was chosen as the Pioneer Cemetery because many Native Americans were already interred here. The markers now in place (the red plaques) were placed by the Park Service in the 1960s. During construction of various aspects of the park, many Native American remains were exposed and since 1973 there have been re-interments to a corner of the cemetery by local Native American communities to avoid further exposure or desecration. As with custom, they are not marked.[11]

 

 

35) Sally Ann Dick Castagnetto died April 10, 1932. She was a full-blooded Yosemite Indian. Her father was Indian Dick and mother was Mary Dick. By all accounts she was a beautiful woman, inside and out. Very talkative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36) The mother of Lucy Brown (see below). No mention of the date.

 

 

 

 

 

37) May Tom, the last of the children in the cemetery, was age 14 when she died. She died when a tree fell on her near Yosemite Point. The tree also fell on her Aunt (Maggie Howard, aka Ta-bu-ce), and broke her leg, which never healed properly. May died in 1902.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38) May Dick, Mother of Sally Ann Dick Castagnetto. No date was found, though her son said that she passed in 1900.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

39) Suzie Sam, Grandmother of Lucy Telles, wife of Captain Sam, died in August 1904. Captain Sam was employed by Camp Curry and the Sentinel Hotel to supply fish for their guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

40) Indian Lucy Brown was reported to be 120 years old at her death in 1924, however it is believed she was born in the early 1830s making her no more than 94 (though still a respectable age). She was one of the last of the Native Americans that lived in the Valley at the time of its discovery in 1851.

 

 

41) Bill Brown (Mono Tom Brown) was the husband of Indian Lucy Brown. He died in 1899 and was one of the first of the Native Americans to be buried here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

42) Lamcisco Wilson, died in 1885. He was an old chief of the Yosemites and was about 115 at the time of his death.

 

 

 

 

43) Johnny Brown died in 1934. He was the son of Indian Lucy Brown and Bill Brown.

 

 

 

 

 

Pete Hillard Grave Stone

 

 

 

 

44) Pete Hilliard also died in 1934. He was part Yosemite and part French Canadian. He had various jobs one of which was surveyor. He was the Great-Great Grandson of Chief Tenaya[12]

 

 

 

45) Louisa Tom died on January 14,1956. She had asked to be placed here with her family. She was, reportedly, 108 years old at the time of her passing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Information for this page on the subject has come from a number of secondary sources such as:

Guide to the Pioneer Cemetery by Lloyd W. Bruebaker, Laurence V. Degnan and Richard Jackson as digitized, displayed and supplemented by Daniel Anderson at www.yosemite.ca.us . Also, the new edition by Hank Johnston and Martha Lee (1997).

Mariposa County at mariposareseach.net who references Daniel’s contribution and, obviously, borrows heavily from it.

A few details were supplemented and/or confirmed by the book, Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Charles R. “Butch” Farabee, Jr.

A few details (very few) come from my own speculation based on my conclusions from various other secondary sources (see end note #1, for instance on Infant Coyle). As time goes on, I hope to add to the details. All of these sources have some obvious uncertainties, such as the date Indian Lucy passed away. Most sources say it was 1920 but acknowledge that “many sources” say it was 1924.

[1] The map and numbering is from Guide to the Pioneer Cemetery by Lloyd W Brubaker, Laurence V Degnan, and Richard R Jackson (1959) Digitized by Dan Anderson, April 2007, from a copy at San Diego State University. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice is left intact.     —Dan Anderson, www.yosemite.ca.us

[2] (ref: Hutching’s date of birth) Or 1818 or 1820 depending on who you read. It is 1818 on his tombstone. A letter to Yosemite National Park from the Society of California Pioneers dated September 6, 1941 quotes its own book as saying “1824” (although the book says “1820”) and a letter from Gertrude “Cosie” Hutchings Mill, Hutchings’ daughter, says “1820” All sources say February 20. According to Hank Johnston in Guide to the Yosemite Cemetery a recent Inscribed copy of Hutchings’ book In the Heart of the Sierras he wrote. “…the older I grow — I am now in my 67th year…” The inscription was dated August 28, 1890. Being “in” his 67th year meant he was 66 on his last birthday, thus placing his birth in 1824.

[3] (Glynn Marker) According to MariposaResearch.net, an article in the Mariposa Gazette, dated December 31, 1881 noted Glynn’s death as December 19th and that Galen Clark “Officiated the funeral services on December 21st. Also, according to the Guide to the Pioneer Cemetery by Lloyd W. Brubaker, Laurence V Degan and Richard R. Jackson, also says Glynn passed on December 19, 1881 and Galen Clark officiated at the service. This suggests that the marker is mistaken about the date of his passing. Sometime between June 7, 2014 and September 14, 2015, the grave marker was changed (apparently because the previous one was illegible. This image (below) of the marker was taken June 7, 2014 at 7:05 PM. The above image (in the body of the page) was take on September 14, 20115 at 12:30 PM.

[4] The six members of “our community” passing in 1881 Galen mentions are, in this order (the numbers in parenthesis are the map locations of their grave site):

Jun 21     John Hamilton (#19)

Aug 31   Effie Crippen (#6)

Sep 26    Florence Hutchings (#4)

Oct 23     Albert May (#10)

Nov 6     Augusta Hutchings (#4)

Dec 19    Thomas Glynn (#8)

[5] This date is according to The Guide to the Yosemite Cemetery by Hank Johnston and Martha Lee. The date from FindaGrave.com puts it at November 30, which is probably incorrect given that she was buried (undeniably) in January 1918.

[6] This date, according to MariposaResearch.net differs from that of the Guide to the Pioneer Cemetery. the first of six members “of our little community” was that passed in the last 6 months of 1881 Galen Clark was referring to in his eulogy on December 19, 1881. The Pioneer Guide had it as the summer of 1882.

[7] The 1890 date is according to “Find a Grave” at  http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8429311

 [8] San Quentin, on the north bay of San Francisco is California’s oldest prison, which first opened in July 1852.

[9] According to “Find a Grave” at:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GScid=1965581&GRid=8429324&df=p&

[10] The “original research” according to the authors of Guide to the Pioneer Cemetery cited in the text.

[11] Guide to the Pioneer Cemetery by Hank Johnston and Martha Lee, 1997, page 23

[12] According to “Find a Grave” at:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GScid=1965581&GRid=8429340&df=p&. The photo is mine.

 


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