Your Emails and Letters
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2005 19:55:01 EST
Subject: Old Main Street Cemetery
As a nearly native Venturan, I would like to see the cemetery back to it's
I would be more than happy to pay for a headstone & the installation of it
Wouldn't it be great if hundreds and hundreds of people did the same thing?
We could have our cemetery back!
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 2005 20:15:05
What is the current situation of Saint Mary's Cemetery? I have tried to follow the news and somehow have lost track. I saw where the city had a survey of the residents around the site and that many of them wished to keep using Saint Mary's as a park. This is no surprise. I can't understand why the city didn't send out the survey to more people. We will all have to pay for the decision that is made. I for one, would like to see the cemetery returned to its previous state and I don't live within that area. But I have been a resident of this city since August 12, 1966.
As a 12 year old student, walking to Cabrillo Junior High school, I was struck by the fact that Saint Mary's seemed well cared for and then all of a sudden they stopped mowing the grass and soon after that, the grave markers were removed. This site was not in disarray for years. It was only after they made the decision to turn it into a park that it was left to the weeds. I remember one time that I was cutting though the cemetery on my way to a friend's house up on Brodea, I had to change course because a man was mowing the grass. This was in the fall of 1966.
Please let me know what is happening.
Date: August 09, 2007
I agree completely with Steven Schleder, Please don't show such disrespect
I have never known my great, great, grandparents but when I went to the San
A hundred years can pass, yet there will be descendants that still remember
City Manager: Rick Cole
City Council: Mayor Morehouse, Weir, Fulton, Brennan, Monahan, Andrews and
City Park's Manager: Mike Montoya
Ventura County Star Editor:
Op/Ed Editor of the Ventura County Star:
Editor of the Ojai-Ventura Voice:
Click "HERE" to send an email to everyone on this list including us here at
Date: Tue, 28 June 2005
From: "Gross, Kathryn L." <KLGROSS@stthomas.edu>
Date: Sat, 16 Apr 2005
Dear Mr. Schleder,
As today is Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, I have been thinking a great deal about Cemetery Park. I was appalled to read about what the city of Ventura had done in the late 1960's. I have only lived in the city since 1989 and had been blissfully unaware of the actual designation of this historic site - that being the resting place for 3,000 persons.
I am hoping that our city will finally right a wrong and place a monument or markers indicating the different sections of the cemetary. It would be a just beginning toward repairing the harm done by Ventura's council. I have been approaching the leaders of several committees and groups at my synagogue. I would like to see Ventura's Jewish community support this cause - perhaps in concert with other religious denominations, cultural groups, and the Veterans Administration.
As a Jew and as a Venturan I strongly feel it is past-time for our city and community to atone for the great damage that was done. I want you to know that I wrote to the Editor of The Star in the week following the LA Times publication of the article about you. I wanted The Star to call local attention to this issue. I did not receive a response. Perhaps they are squeamish about dealing with such a profound topic. I am glad, Mr. Schleder, that you are not. You are doing something good and just. Don't give up, please.
Date: Sat, 16 Apr 2005
Date: Sat, 16 Apr 2005
While doing a search on the internet I came across your website for St. Mary's. I am researching my ancestry and am searching for my great-great grandfather's burial place.
His name was August G. Tegmeyer, he was born in Louisiana I believe, lived in Missouri for many years and then moved to California in the late 1880's. I do not know when he died exactly but I noticed on your website that there is a A.G. Tegmeyer listed as buried at this cemetery.
Where in California is the cemetery located? Are there any records I can access anywhere? Are the names listed on your website from headstones?
Thanks for any help or information you can provide me.
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2004
Email sent to Steve Schleder on Fri, 18 Feb 2005
"1901 St. Mary's Cemetery Photographs,"
courtesy of Henry J. Oliva Jr. & Four Generations of His Family.
>From: "Henry Oliva" <email@example.com>
Bodies Under Parking Lot,
Dear Parks and Recreation Commissioners:
In light of this Wednesday's Commission meeting packet, and the complete disregard for further investigation as to the quantity and location of our ancestral graves under the parking lot and the area that was under the recreation center (western 110'), I have forwarded to you a letter I received indirectly from the State Coordinator of "California Saving Graves," Sue Silver. She is very experienced with California law and below outlines the laws that were broken by the City of Ventura when they desecrated St. Mary's Cemetery in 1955 and 1964-5. She is open for any questions or comments that you might have at the contact numbers below.
I ask you to halt this "smoke & mirrors" survey and question City Staff as to what happened to the allotted $7800.00 for grave identification at the "western 110' "
I have heard from within the City's employ, that City Staff has already interviewed the former City Manager, Charles Reiman, who personally orchestrated the desecration of St. Mary's Cemetery in 1955 and the complete desecration of both cemeteries, St. Mary's & Ventura, in 1964-65. I suspect, that because of what was revealed by the end of this interview, City Staff dropped the "$7,800.00 for grave identification at the "western 110.' " Why look for graves when you know they are there?
>Hi Steve...it was good to talk with you today on the phone....hope tonights meeting went well. I contact Sue Silver....she's conected with California Saving Graves...please read what she sent to me....maybe we can get something going down the road.....Linn
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Sue Silver
>Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 5:39 PM
>I have been aware of this one for almost two years now. I will review the website a little more, but as I recall no one yet has been able to provide me with information on the process the city took to establish this as a Pioneer Memorial Park.
>I don't believe the City had statutory authority to do this at the time that it did this and I do not believe the Health and Safety Code (Sec. 8825-8829) authorizes either a city or county to created a public playground or dog park while there are remains in the ground of a PUBLIC cemetery. The point and purpose for creating Pioneer Memorial Parks was to ensure the public was protected from decaying cemeteries that had been ABANDONED by whoever owned it. To keep the public from being harmed or threatened by monuments and ornamentation that might topple, fall or otherwise pose a danger.
>To my knowledge there was not and there still is NO statutory authority for a city or county to create a Pioneer Memorial Park out of a PUBLIC cemetery that it owns and/or once operated.
>Sec. 8825 to 8829 can be read at the following link:
> CHAPTER 7. ABANDONMENT 8825-8829
>This link is from the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau website at:
>This law was first enacted in 1957 and was amended in 1959. I have not looked up the Legislative history of why the amendment was made, but prior to the 1959 amendment the language was as follows:
> "A city or county having a nonendowment care cemetery within its boundaries which threatens or endangers the health, safety, comfort or welfare of the public may, by resolution of the governing board, if no human dead bodies have been interred therein for a period of five years immediately preceding the date of the resolution, declare the abandonment of the cemetery as a place of future interment and provide for the removal of all copings and improvements, and may provide for placement, level with the ground, of all small markers and monuments having a surface of less than 500 square inches, so long as the buried portions contain no engraving.
> "In the event that there has been an authorized burial within the five years preceding the board action, the consent of the person paying for the funeral must be obtained before the taking of any action in accordance with this section."
>Bolded text above is for notations by me:
> The language of "having a nonendowment care cemetery within its boundaries" does not say whether or not the cemetery may or may not be city or county owned and operated. According to the Legislative Counsel's office, cities and counties must have specific statutory authorization to act in nearly all capacities. This law does not state that a city or county may create a Pioneer Memorial Park from a city or county cemetery. Only that it may do so for a "nonendowment care cemetery." Cities and counties did not and most still do not have endowment care cemeteries since the presumption is that governments will always exist and therefore its properties will always be tended to by them. This law was specifically written to give a city or county the authority to take care of privately owned, nonendowment care cemeteries that had fallen into a state of disrepair - not publicly owned cemeteries.
>The 1959 amendment changed it to read as follows:
>Re Bolded text above: Even as amended in 1959, this law still does not give a city or county the authority to utilize this law on a public cemetery.
>It currently reads:
>"A city or county having a nonendowment care cemetery within its boundaries which threatens or endangers the health, safety, comfort or welfare of the public may, by resolution of its governing board, if not more than 10 human dead bodies have been interred therein for a period of five years immediately preceding the date of the resolution, declare the abandonment of the cemetery as a place of future interment, but shall permit interment therein of any person who is an owner of a plot in the cemetery on the date of adoption of the resolution or who otherwise has a right of interment in the cemetery which is vested on such date. The resolution may provide for the removal of such copings, improvements, and embellishments which the governing board finds to be a threat or danger to the health, safety, comfort, or welfare of the public." [Underlined text denotes the change.]
>Re Bolded text above: The current law still does not authorize a city or county to convert a publicly owned and operated cemetery to a Pioneer Memorial Park. The lack of specific statutory authorization to do so, there is a prohibition.
>The City of Ventura had no statutory authority to convert this cemetery to a Pioneer Memorial Park. As such, the City's use of this PUBLIC cemetery violates the prohibition against the use of lands dedicated to use as a PUBLIC cemetery for any other purpose whatsoever. As long as the bodies remain in this cemetery, the land is dedicated to public cemetery purposes. Only when all remains have been removed, may the city lawfully convert this cemetery to any other use.
>Unfortunately, the damage has been done. It is doubtful that the City kept any plot map of where the monuments were originally located so that restoring them to their appropriate places will be impossible. HOWEVER, if by some miracle the City did place replacement markers throughout the cemetery so that it may be determined where the person is buried, they could be reinstalled over the graves.
>BUT, it will probably take a law suit against the city to get a court to order it to do so. That is to say, someone in the community or a group within the community, needs to file a Writ of Mandate outlining what occurred, when it occurred, and in what manner it occurred to prove to the court that the city had no authority to do this in the first place, that the city violated the law, and continues to violate the law by utilizing this public cemetery containing "XXXX" number of human as a park and not a cemetery.
>The reason these things keep happening is that no one knew the law back then or they just couldn't be bothered to stop it. The only way to change this, in my opinion, is sue the City and get a court order to make it correct this gross violation of the public trust. I doubt anyone involved at this point will be willing to do that. But it's the only way I know of that will cure this situation.
>If we don't get more lawsuits going to protect our historic cemeteries, these things will continue. The cities and counties know that they can violate the law as long as they can get away with it. They know the only way that John Q. Public can cure their error is through the court's intervention. Sad, but true. That's the way the law works.
>Please feel free to pass this email on to whoever has contacted you. I am not able to be physically involved in helping to resolve the problem, but I am willing to speak to reporters or anyone else who wants my opinion, knowledge and experience.
>I don't mean to sound as if I'm bragging, for I'm not. But the State Cemetery and Funeral Bureau refers people to me who have problems with cemeteries that are not under their oversight. The State Office of Historic Preservation lists me as only one of two people in California who will help others with matters of historic cemeteries.
>For some reason people keep asking me for help and expect me to run with the ball. I can't do that. There's one of me and literally thousands of these kinds of cemetery problems in the state. I can advise and I can find answers. But I cannot do the work for them. I don't live in their communities and I have virtually no standing. The Legislative Counsel's Office has opined that counties (and possibly cities in this context) do not hold property in their own name but in TRUST for all the people of California. In that light, I feel I do have an interest. (Not to mention that my family has been here since 1850...!)
>I hope this will be of help. The way to start correcting this problem is to slap the city with a court order and obtain PUBLIC funding to correct the city's violation of the law.
>Such a shame, isn't it?
>Sue Silver, State Coordinator
> ----- Original Message -----
> Hi Sue....we have another project....this one is in Venture....Steve Schleder has been the leader with this one....he has a web page.....www.restorestmarys.org....please check it out....bottom line is that back in the 1960"s..the city turned this 7 acre Cemetery into a Dog Park.....all the headstones were removed and dumped in a adjoining river...which is now under a levy...there are over 60 Union Veterans buried there...let alone many of the cities founders etc....what can we do on this one....thanks....
> Linn Hoadley, Commander
Email sent to Steve Schleder, San Buenaventura Cemetery Friends, all Souls
>Subject: It is most heartwarming to see People to help the helpless burried souls!
Email received 29 Jul 04
Subject: Geophysical assistance to your cause
This letter was read in front of the City Council by John Jones, Monday evening 02, August 2004
hi Suz,I am not sure I can attend the next meeting for the Parks and Recreation Commission - I did want to pass on my comments to City Council last night - can you forward to other members of the Commission?
= Letter =
Good evening Council -On this first Monday of the month I would like to speak briefly on Memorial Park. To some degree, an article that appeared in last Thursday’s Los Angeles Times has prompted me to do so.
In commenting on this topic I would say that I am in no way claiming to speak on behalf of those who have come before us. I guess I could only make that claim if I was able to travel thru time - and recently Stephen Hawking put the kibosh on that idea, so I am simply speaking as someone who is here today
It's my own view that a burial plot or place, regardless if it is for a city founder or a city pauper, has an element of sacredness. The poet William Cullen Bryant reminds us of burial as the great equalizer for all.
I looked up the adjective sacred in the American Heritage® Dictionary. Of the 6 entries listed - I would go with the fifth entry in this instance, which was “Worthy of respect; venerable”
So what am I suggesting this council do? After all there are a number of important issues impacting our community that already, properly, have your attention and time.
I, personally, do not favor a complete restoration of “St. Mary’s Cemetery”. For while I do view the area where people have been buried as sacred –I don’t think we risk losing that sacredness if there are people walking their dog, or having a picnic lunch on the property, or due to the existence of a parking lot. No, for me, we risk losing that sacredness, that specialness, if we fail to recognize, acknowledge, and appreciate that this area is the final resting spot of a large number of people. I am not concerned about this site being included on the list for the National Register of Historic Places. I am concerned if we choose to continue to disregard what is special about this location.
What can we do to reflect the fact that our community does indeed recognize acknowledge, and appreciate that this, in addition to being a public park, is the final resting spot for a large number of people? I do not have a definitive answer. I do know this topic has come before the Parks and Recreation Commission and the idea of “doing something” has been both expressed and supported. What is “something”? Perhaps a reflecting pool along with some plaques, perhaps something else. As I said, I do not have a definitive answer. I only know that if the two options are “to do nothing” or “to do something” I hope is it the latter.
One final comment - I am aware, that there are people who do have relatives who were buried at “St. Mary’s Cemetery” and that some of these people would like to see a complete restoration. I certainly don’t make my comments to oppose them or offend them. I am simply expressing my view as truthfully as I am able. I do not see a complete restoration as a reasonable possibility. I don’t see how we can turn back the hands of time. And for the past 40 years this site has served as a public park – in all likelihood it’s value as a public park is greater now than when it was first made so.
= End of Letter =