The following is a "1930" list of all the headstones at the St.
Mary's/Presbyterian/Hebrew Cemeteries, 1815 E. Main St., San Buenaventura, collected by the students of Dr. Coy's class. The typing was done by Mrs. Arthur Minium of the "El Camino Real Chapter of the Daughters of the America Revolution." A doctor's idea of teaching his students their local
and national heritage and respect for the dead, by going to the cemetery and collecting the names from all of the headstones, is beautiful just in itself. To think that this list just retrieved from the Sacramento State Archives some 77 years later, has lasted longer than the actual marble and granite grave headstones at the Cemetery, is a very good example as to our locally elected politician's (read: City Council) arrogance, greed and self-serving nature.
This 1930 list is by no means the entire list of stolen headstones from the cemeteries by the City Council of San Buenaventura. The cemeteries accepted interments up until 1945. Between 1930 and 1945 there were many more interments and headstones set at the graves of loved ones. The quantity is not known at this time.
We have documented Federal military receipts for the five military headstones made for the five Veterans of the famous Native California Cavalry, buried at St. Mary's Cemetery (see link Federal headstone receipts: www.restorestmarys.org/Headstone%20Receipts.htm) . These headstones are not on Dr. Coy's student's 1930 list, though several of the 54 veterans headstones of the Civil War are on this 1930 list (see link of
C.W. Veterans in Desecrated Graves: www.restorestmarys.org/Civil%20War%20Vets.html)
. It is against both State and Federal Law to desecrate the graves of U.S. Veterans. The City Council
of San Buenaventura is in violation of these laws with at least 75 desecrated veteran graves in these Cemeteries alone!
(see link of Calif. Veteran Code 960-962: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/code/getcode.html?file=./mvc/00001-01000/960-962). Their recent idea to dedicate the flagpole to the Veteran's in desecrated graves perfectly examplifies their two-bit sincerity and respect for any Veteran. There was already a 'Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)' monument placed at the flagpole area back in 1896 (see GAR link at: www.restorestmarys.org/Articles/Soldiers%20Monument.htm) . It too, was stolen by the City in the 1963 'beautification project.'
There are many Chinese buried throughout the Cemeteries and none of their headstones are on this 1930 list, though in the City Clerk's Office, there is a small box of 3" x 5" cards with maybe 12 of those cards showing transcribed Chinese Mandarin/Cantonese writings taken directly from the Chinese headstones at the time of the grave desecration by the City Council of San Buenaventura in 1963.
The majority of the 600 historically priceless, marble and granite headstones now lay at the bottom of the Hall Canyon barranca, due east of the City's Storage Yard, conveniently pushed off the edge of the storage yard 100' cliff in 1970, to the creek bed below (see 100' cliff link at: www.restorestmarys.org/Headstones%20Found.htm) .
To resolve our 45-year old local and national cemetery disgrace, along with many other problems plaguing our local 'closed-session backroom' City Council sessions, we need to break the back of this very same City Council! Our problem is more than just a bad City Attorney or a silver-tongued City Manager. We need to change the way that this very City Council is elected.
Presently, we elect the City Council with an "At-Large Election" process. It is an antiquated system with San Buenaventura being one of the last cities in the State of California to make the change-over. The more 'representitive' election process is called, "District Elections." With "District Elections," the City is divided into seven districts. Citizens that run for the City Council must live within the districts that they are running for office in. For example, we would have one person elected to the City Council from the Ventura Avenue District, one from Downtown District, one from Mid-town District, one from the Keys & Harbor District, one from the Eastside District etc. In this manner, all parts of our town will be represented on the City Council.
To change from an "At-Large Election" process to a "District Election" process, we would need to change the City Charter by placing this initivative on the next ballot for the general election. We now have two City Council members who have been on the City Council for over 25 years! Including a 'two-term-limit' within the district election initivative on the next ballot for the general election would also be quite advantageous for a more representative local government!
This present City Council demands that the desecration of 7,000 pioneer graves in our town be maintained status quo! This present City Council along with major developers and financial institutions are posed to rein havoc over the downtown area and what little peace and tranquility, we, the living San Buenaventurans still enjoy.
We must do more than stop them! We must get rid of them!
Steve Schleder Awarded the Bronze Medal of Good Citizenship by the Sons of the American Revolution; Past VP of the San Buenaventura Conservancy; Member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans; Member of the Sons of the Union Veterns; Historic architectural restoration & preservationist;
Principal organizer of the www.restorestmarys.org cause.