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Yosemite Indians and Other Sketches (1936) by Mrs. H. J. Taylor

Chapter 9: Cemetery in Yosemite Valley

Note: For many of the data in this article the author is indebted to the following pioneers: Charles Tuttle Leidig, first white boy born in Yosemite and continuously connected with the park from the time of his birth in 1869, until August, 1917; Henry Hedges of Mariposa, the first stage driver into Yosemite; Gabriel Sovulewski, whose service in the park has been uninterrupted since 1906. Data on the ten Indian graves in the northeastern part of the cemetery were obtained from the Indians. Among these were Maria Lebrado, granddaughter of Chief Tenaya, Sally Ann Dick of Coulterville, and Chris Brown.

N o one seems to know when, if ever, a plat was set aside in Yosemite for burial purposes. When John C. Anderson was killed by a horse, in July, 1867, he was buried at the foot of the Four-Mile Trail. When Agnes, the two-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Leidig, died in 1869, she was buried on the site of the present Ahwahnee Hotel. Both were later reinterred in the present cemetery. According to the pioneers, the first interment it Yosemite Cemetery was that of a young boy drowned at Happy Isles. There was no marker.

In 1907, Mr. Sovulewski and Mr. Degnan outlined the present cemetery area with Incense Cedar trees. In 1918, they built the fence that now (1936) encloses about forty graves. This number includes a group often Indian graves in the northeastern part of the plat. The remains of an old well are still to be seen in the vacant space between the graves of Thomas Glynn and Albert May. The names of the persons buried in Yosemite Cemetery, together with brief bits of information about them, follow.

Harry Eddy. Beginning in the southwest corner of the cemetery and following the graves in an irregular line northward, we come first to a weather-worn board marker that reads: “Harry Eddy, died October 10, 1919.” He was a carpenter who worked or the Yosemite barns. He lived in a tent at the rear of Gabriel Sovulewski’s present home.

Frank Bockerman. Just to the north another board marker reads: “Frank Bockerman, July, 1910.” No pioneer seems to have any memory of him.

William Bonney Atkinson. A rugged piece of granite stands next, with the inscription, “William Bonney Atkinson, born in Yosemite June 25, 1898. Died April 15, 1902. Bill.” He was the youngest of three children and beloved by all who knew him. His father was an employee of the State.

The Hutchings Family. A huge rugged rock of granite marks the graves of the pioneer, James Mason Hutchings, his daughter, Florence, and that of his second wife, A[u]gusta L. Hutchings. A marble cross is the headstone of Mr. Hutchings’ grave. The inscription reads: “In Memory, J. M. H., Pioneer, Patriot, Feb. 10, 1818, Oct. 31, 1902.” Mr. Hutchings’ daughter, Gertrude Hutchings Mills, says the inscription is incorrect in respect to her father’s birth; he was born in 1820.

The grave of Florence Hutchings, first white child born in the Valley, is marked thus: “Aug. 23, 1864. Sept. 26, 1881. F. H.” Florence was a gifted child and beloved by all who knew her. Her funeral was held in the Big Tree Room of the Barnard Hotel which, before Mr. Barnard’s time, was “The Hutchings House.” In the absence of a clergyman, the San Francisco artist, C. G. Robinson, read the burial service of the Episcopal Church.

The grave of Mrs. Hutchings is marked by her initials, “A. L. H.” She was a devoted and beloved wife. Her sudden death, after an illness of only a few hours, followed the death of Florence by only a few weeks. It was Mrs. Hutchings’ good taste and deft fingers that transformed the old cabin at the foot of Yosemite Falls into a home of such charm and beauty that those who entered it never forgot it.

Agnes Leidig. Time has worn beyond recognition the inscription from the painted wood marker of this grave. Until C. T. Leidig came to my assistance, this grave was unknown to me. He said: “This is the grave of my two-and-a-half-year-old little sister. Agnes was the first white child to die in the Valley. She was buried on the present site of the Ahwahnee Hotel. At that time, 1869, my mother was the only white woman living in the Valley, and there were only four white men. Later the body of my little sister was moved to this cemetery.

Effie Crippen. East of the Hutchings monument is a board marker that more than fifty years has not dimmed. It reads: “Effie Crippen, August 31, 1881, Age 14 years 7 months, 22 days.” J. M. Hutchings, the pioneer, read the Episcopal service in the Big Tree Room of the Barnard Hotel. Among the young friends who sang at the grave was Florence Hutchings, who in a few weeks was also laid to rest “in the grove of noble oaks where Tissiac, Goddess of the Valley, keeps constant watch.” Mrs. Crippen had married Mr. Barnard, proprietor of the hotel, and Effie was the light and joy of this home. School was closed the day of the funeral so that her little friends might attend. Among these was Charles T. Leidig, who told the writer that in the early seventies the school, consisting of five pupils, was held for a brief time in a tent on the present site of the cemetery. The permanent schoolhouse was built east of the Sentinel Hotel on the present camp 19 site.

Mrs. Cannon. Just north of Effie Crippen’s grave the lot seems vacant. A small piece of rock lies upon it as if definitely placed there. Pioneers say it is the grave of Mrs. Cannon, who died about 1895.

Thomas Glynn. The board marker at the head of this grave is easily read. It states briefly: “Thomas Glynn, Mex. War Vet. Oct. 18, 1881.” Mr. Degnan knew both Mr. and Mrs. Glynn and spoke of them as “excellent people.” Hutchings says (Heart of Sierras, p. 351): “Mrs. Glynn is an industrious woman and, being a good cook, ekes out a frugal living by selling bread, pies and such things to transient customers, and by keeping two or three boarders.”

Albert May. The next grave to the north is marked with a marble headstone which reads: “Albert May, Native of Ohio, died October 23, 1881, aged 51 years.” Mr. Hedges says that Mr. May was a carpenter for the hotelkeeper, A. G. Black. In the vacant space between the graves of Thomas Glynn and Albert May was the old well. According to Galen Clark, who dug it, the well was placed in the cemetery in order to make water available for keeping the graves green.

James Chenowith Lamon. A tall granite shaft marks the grave of Yosemite’s first settler. It reads: “J. C. Lamon died May 22, 1875 aged 58 years.” Mr. Lamon built the first cabin in the Valley, in 1859, and he was the first white man to winter in the Valley, spending the winter of 1861-1862 entirely alone.

Galen Clark. In the shelter of the Sequoias brought from the Mariposa Grove and planted by his own hands about 1886, sleeps Galen Clark, “Beloved man of Yosemite.“ From the well, which he dug in the cemetery, he watered the young trees. He chiseled his name on the rough boulder that is his headstone, and dug his own grave. In 1930, his nephews, L. L. McCoy and A. M. McCoy, completed the inscription, adding the dates, 1814-1910.

George Fisk and Carrie Fisk. The graves of George Fisk and his wife, Carrie Fisk, are outlined with small granite stones. Mr. Fisk’s grave is unmarked; he died in 1920. He was an early photographer in Yosemite, and his work was of notable quality. He worked for a time in the studio of Carleton E. Watkins, in San Francisco. The grave of Carrie Fisk, his wife, is marked with a marble headstone bearing the inscription: “Carrie Fisk, Native of Ohio, Age 63 years, died Jan. 1, 1918.” Mr. and Mrs. Fisk were people of fine character, whose friendship was valued.

Hazel Caroline Myers. Her grave is immediately north of those of the Fisks. The headstone reads: “Hazel Caroline, daughter of George and Lizzie Myers. Jan. 22, 1902—July 5, 1905.” Mrs. Myers was a visitor to Yosemite in 1930.

Mrs. Gabriel Sovulewski. Not far from the grave of Hazel Myers is the grave of Mrs. Sovulewski. She died in August, 1928, having lived in the Valley twenty-two years, greatly beloved and affectionately called “Our Yosemite Mother.”

Sadie Schaeffer. Returning to the south end of the cemetery, we come to the grave of Sadie Schaeffer, marked by a granite shaft. She was a girl between fourteen and fifteen years of age when, with a group of friends she came from Packwaukee, Wisconsin, to visit Yosemite. She was drowned in the rapids of the Merced River, July 7, 1901. A. M. McCoy, nephew of Galen Clark, had just arrived in the Valley and took charge of the burial, reading the Episcopal service. On the tombstone are these words:


Drowned in the rapids July 7, 1901.
Oh, that beauteous head.
If it did go down,
It carried sunshine into the rapids.

Erected by her companions

James Morgan. Just to the north is the grave of James Morgan who was buried only a few days after Sadie Schaeffer. A granite boulder reads: “James Morgan, died July 10, 1901 aged, 69 years.” For nearly thirty-five years flowers were sent on Decoration Day to be placed on this grave.

A. B. Glasscock. A little farther north a rough piece of granite marks the grave: “A. B. Glasscock, born September 3, 1843. Died June 9, 1897. Native of Missouri.” In Hutchings’ Guide to Yosemite and the Big Trees, published in 1895, there is mention of “A. B. Glasscock, proprietor of Sentinel Hotel.”

Infant. A few small stones give the spot to the north, though unnamed and unmarked, the appearance of a grave. Mr. Degnan says it is the grave of an infant born to Mr. and Mrs. Coyle, whom he knew well.

John C. Anderson. A marble headstone marks the grave. It reads: “John C. Anderson, July 5, 1867. Aged 55 years. Killed by a horse.” Early pioneers say that he was first buried at the foot of the Four-Mile Trail near the home of George Fisk. Later the remains were removed to the present cemetery.

Angelo Cavagnaro. An iron fence and a fine monument mark the grave of A. B. Cavagnaro. "Died September 9, 1885, aged 62 years. “Hutchings says (Heart of Sierras, p. 351): “Mr. Angelo Cavagnaro, an Italian . . . keeps a general merchandise store. He has on hand almost anything . . . from a paper collar to a side of bacon.”

Unnamed and Unknown. A small piece of granite, at the head and at the foot, marks the grave. It is said that a man named Wood lies buried here.

George G. Anderson. Beyond a vacant lot is a grave that has a small granite rock at the head and likewise one at the foot. On the former is cut the name “George G. Anderson,” nothing more. This is the grave of the young Scotsman who was the first to ascend Half Dome. His courage, his daring, his perserverance, helped him to accomplish the ascent on October 12, 1875.

Hamilton and Whorton. A little farther to the north are two graves with small granite stones at the head and at the foot. The first is said to be the grave of a man named Hamilton; the second that of a man named Whorton.

Unknown. There is a grave adjoining these the identity of which is thus far unknown.

A. W. B. Madden. East of the last named graves is a wooden cross with the initials “A. W. B.” According to Mr. Degnan, it is the grave of A. W. B. Madden, a tourist who died at the Sentinel Hotel in 1883. This cross disappeared in 1933. It probably disintegrated from decay.

[Editor’s note: Carolyn Feroben transcribed this obituary from the May 27, 1897 New Orleans Daily Picayune (2007): “Died in Yosemite Valley—San Franicsco, May 24—Colonel G. A. Madden, of the British army, stationed in India, returned yesterday from the Yosemite, but without his brother, who accompanied him on his trip there somewhat over a week ago. The brother of Madden, a well-to-do tea mercant[sic] of Calcutta, died suddenly at Yosemite on Monday list[sic] and the remains, which would nt bear shipment to this city, were interred in the cemterery in the valley. Colonel Madden and his brother were on their way to London to attend the jubilee of the queen. The survivor will continue on his way to England, as he is under order to be there early in June.” —dea.]

Boston; Woolcock; Frenchman; A Boy. South of the Indian burial lot there are four graves not clearly outlined and in no way identified. It is said that one is the grave of a man named “Boston.” He was the toll-keeper for the Coulterville road and was killed for plunder by two Indians, about 1875. Concerning the other three no data seem to be available.

In the northeastern part of the cemetery is an irregular row of ten graves, all Indians, only one of which is marked. The marker is a wooden cross on which is the name “Lucy.” She died about 1922.

The accompanying list gives the data as received by the author from the Indians:

Lancisco Wilson
d. about 1885

Bill Brown—1899
Father of Johnny Brown
Grandfather of Chris Brown

Mother of Lucy
in Grave 5
Part Yosemite

May Dick
Full blood Yosemite
Mother of
Sarah Dick (Sally Ann) Castagnetto

d. about 1920
Part Yosemite

Grandmother of
Lucy Telles

May Tom, age 14
Niece of Maggie Howard

Sally Ann Dick Castagnetto
Full blood Yosemite
d. Apr. 10, 1932

Pete Hilliard
Part Yosemite

Johnny Brown
Father Chris Brown

That some graves lie outside the cemetery is certain. The Indian, Maggie Howard, places the grave of her father about twenty feet from the present museum.

A young girl of sixteen died at the birth of her stillborn babe. Together they were buried on the well-traveled road leading to the barns. “Why wasn’t she buried in the cemetery?” the informant was asked. “The nice people didn’t want her in the cemetery, and she was forgotten quicker being buried where nobody knows anything about it.”

A few years ago a tablet was placed on a huge piece of granite on the north side of the road near Bridal Veil Falls. It commemorates the death of two miners, Sherburn and Rose, killed near that spot by the Indians. The recently found manuscript of Stephen F. Glover gives the history of the eight miners, of whom Glover was one, and states that the two men killed were Sherburn and Tudor, and that Rose appeared at the mining camp a few days after the Indian attack. (100 Years in Yosemite, C. P. Russell, 1931, pp. 52-57.)

The lone and unknown miner, killed by Indians in the winter of 1862, was found by J. C. Lamon and buried somewhere in Yosemite Valley.

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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management