Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Plight of the Magnificent Marysville City Cemetery

This blog was posted on, a blog Anna wrote for while a team member for Angels of Light Paranormal Society.

Today just by chance and on a whim, a couple of our members Anna, Roxi and Jennifer, went to several local cemeteries for a day trip. (something not so unfamiliar with members of our team) Our trip took us to Pioneer Cemetery, Smartsville, and Peoria Cemetery (where we were sprinkler'd out before we could even go in).

On our way back from the hills, we decided we had plenty of time before any of us needed to be anywhere. So we decided to head over to Marysville City Cemetery. We wanted to see if by chance any of the volunteers who usually work the graveyard, or Short Stack the cemetery look out, maybe be around and allow us to enter to take photographs.
Established in 1850, this cemetery is the final resting place of many gold miners who've worked throughout the region, civil war veterans, Donner Party members, and even Charles Macy, the founder of Macy's department store. A plaque near the front states that this is the oldest city-owned cemetery west of the Rockies. To learn more about the history of the cemetery, check out Historic Downtown Marysville's Website.

An interesting video from 1994 about the history of the cemetery, the problems that have plagued it, and the people who now rest here.

Impression: The cemetery is gorgeous. With its several heavily decorated mausoleums, unique headstones, statues, and cultural specified plots; Marysville City Cemetery is large and fascinating. On it's 15 acres, 10,000 souls rest here.

It's almost to much to take in completely. At every turn you feel as if you've missed something.
There is a sense of magic and static in the air as we walk through it. Even though this is the permanent residence for the dead, and through the golden brown vegetation, the property feels very much alive.

The cemetery shows wear, from events of the past, including major flooding. The age of it is apparent. But all in all, the love and dedication of its volunteers, like Marysville Cemetery Chairman Roberta Shurtz, shows. Unlike most old, forgotten historic cemeteries, there is no abundance of over grown foliage, or weeds. In fact the area where the cemetery sits is rather cleared and dry, but in its natural state. It's look matches the average look of most of California, this time of year. Dry, with towering grand oaks everywhere.

Rose bushes near the front still show water at their bases, from a recent water. There's no doubt the amount of time and care that's
been taken by those who have volunteered over the years.

In recent years the Cemetery has been hit hard by vandals. The last incident of this was early as March of 2012. According to the Appeal Democrat, $20,000-30,000 worth of damage had been done. This doesn't however include the amount of damage the cemetery has sustained by past events caused by vandals. As far back as many can remember, the cemetery has been a victim to many vandalisms over the last few decades. (Read about that story here: Vandals strike Marysville cemetery again)

The damage is heart wrenching. Littered throughout the cemetery, there is no shortage of ruin. Headless statues, toppled monuments, crushed tombstones, and damaged wings of an angel. To any history lover this leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. My heart sinks as soon as my truck enters the road leading to the cemetery. It's been awhile, and the change is all too obvious.
Near the back of the cemetery, puzzle pieces of history sit on top of palettes. Each one waiting to be placed back with its rightful counterparts. At this point of walking through, I feel emotional. So much damage, and so unnecessary. Hearing the stories of vandalism is one thing, seeing it first hand is another. As with most tragedies, we are at a loss for words. The only thing that seems fitting at this point is, "Why?"

As of October 5th 2013, A.L.P.S will begin volunteer efforts to assist the cemetery committee, with repairing damages and basic maintenance at the cemetery. After hearing so much about the amount of destruction there, we felt it was only fitting for a team like ours, to get involved and become proactive.

I asked our member Ana "Roxi" Rodriguez about how the current state of the city cemetery makes her feel. She responded with, "This horrible and dreadful feeling fell over me as I walked around the Marysville Cemetery, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, the amount of damage was staggering. How could someone just come in here and disrespect the dead like that? Why would someone do this? It made so sense to me. A cemetery is a place to go and pay your respects to the dead, not destroy their final resting place. I was heartbroken that these beautiful tombstones were purposely broken. Someone worked hard to create them, to share with the world; this person's date of birth, when they died and a little about them. As I sat on the bench I couldn't help but think about the families that come here to visit loved ones, and are greeted by vandalism. I jumped at the chance when I was asked to help clean up the cemetery, now I have a chance to right a wrong!"

Jennifer Furgerson adds, "For me I would just say that it's where I go to get my inspiration for drawing writing, sad that vandals have beaten it up, yet very happy that people are taking the time to care about such a magical uplifting place of history......I love cemeteries and it breaks my heart when seeing such devastating damage."

I couldn't agree with Roxi and Jennifer more. The devastation here is horrendous, and much like them, the rest of our team feels compelled to help. We are proud to be a part of something so important to us, our community and future generations!

Putting Our Words Into Action

After seeing the devastation, we felt motivated to get started. We contacted HMCC Volunteer Vickie, and she was more than happy to hear that a group of people were ready to work. After filling out our liability waivers, the work began.

Work included moving large granite pieces off the ground to where they belong, or putting headstones onto wooden palettes. We also worked to help brick work around plots. Many of the heavier granite pieces have sat on the ground for a very long time. With the lack of volunteers and equipment, there has been much that needed done when we showed up. Many of the volunteers who were active when we started were ladies. They were so grateful to see some fellas show up.

Project 1: this heavy granite wall had been toppled during a bout of vandalism.

But we accomplished it!

Project 2: a topple brick wall, knocked over by ground squirrels, and some due to vandalism. We must clear out old masonry and mud. We literally have to place things back together like a puzzle. Bricks are tossed and strewn around the cemetery. Vandals did a number on the cemetery, but it does not deture the hearts of volunteers. We press forward and do the best we can.

Project 3: getting granite tombstones off the ground. Mud and dirt is devastating to the integrity of granite. We are losing history by these stones being face down on the ground. Vandals caused so much devastation in the cemetery. We are happy to say, we have gotten all headstones off the ground before winter has come.

A video of what moving granite entails:

 Nothing feel better than giving back to your community. The paranormal field is not always about what we take, it must be about what we give back.

If you would like to volunteer your time for restoration and upkeep efforts, please contact HMCC Volunteer, Vickie Tudor at

The video below shows one of the beautiful mausoleums at the Marysville City Cemetery.

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