How can we restore St. Mary's Cemetery?
Well, Here's an idea…

A few months ago, Angelus Rosedale Cemetery and West Adams Heritage Association, both of Los Angeles, teamed up to put on the "Living History Tour 2003." It is a annual project and very successful. Five of the "permanent" residents of the cemetery were selected. Historical background research was done on each of the five. Volunteer actors dressed in period costume at the five different grave sites of the chosen five "permanent" residents. For about twenty minutes the actors gave a talk about the lives of the persons buried underfoot. After about an hour a half we had strolled through the cemetery and were filled with the most interesting and informative history of Los Angeles and it's pioneers. A one day event with around ten tours will attract between 300-400 people. Tickets are sold out very quickly. The next tour will be in October 2004.

I am proposing that the same kind of an event can be held at St. Mary's Cemetery here in San Buenaventura. The historical education would benefit all attending. Our local pioneer heritage would be brought back to life momentarily. Ask a question of Senor Olivas or Senor Ortega. Does the master photographer of San Buenaventura, John Calvin Brewster, approve of the digital cameras of today? Will Brig. Maj. Gen. William Vandever comment of battle strategies of the Civil War? Can Private James Sumner comment on the Apaches and the Indian warrior Cochise?

Do we have any volunteers for the first "St. Mary's Living History Tour 2004?"  

Steve Schleder

Living History Tour 2003
Angelus Rosedale Cemetery & West Adams Heritage Association

Living History Tour 2003

Today we invite you to join us in a walk through one of Los Angeles' most beautiful cemeteries to visit with some of its more interesting "permanent residents." Los Angeles, for the most of the 19th century, was a dusty backwater, far removed from the centers of government and commerce in Monterey or San Francisco to the north, much less from the cities of the east. Until the coming of the railroad, Los Angeles was accessible only by arduous, perilous journeys by land or sea. A stream of pioneers nevertheless found their way to Los Angeles - the industrious, the lucky, those who with wildly varied careers already behind them, and those who were taken on these harrowing journeys as small children. All found a land subject to droughts, flooding and no easy access to markets, and managed to turn a sparsely populated desert into a thriving center of culture, finance and agriculture. Angelus Rosedale also has a significant population of later pioneers who used their talents in a struggle against barriers of a different, but no less daunting, kind. And now, we bring you five lives of triumph, tragedy and endless fascination.
The Angelus Rosedale Tour Organizing Committee

Angelus Rosedale Cemetery
1831 West Washington Boulevard

Rosedale Cemetery was founded in 1884, when Los Angeles was a small city of only a few thousand people. To this day, its grounds are beautiful and surprisingly removed from the noise and distractions of the city. A Los Angeles Times article describing the cemetery's opening stated it was, "one of the choicest sites in the city."
Rosedale was the first cemetery in Los Angeles open to all races and creeds, and the first in the area to use the new approach of design called "lawn" cemeteries, "...when nature and art conspire to surround the burial places of the dead with beautiful trees and flowers, natural scenery and works of monumental art."
People buried in Rosedale include members of leading families and pioneers who helped make history in this community and state. They are men and women who achieved great success and had a conspicuous place in the founding of Los Angeles and its institutions.

in order of appearance

Lyman Stewart / Stephen Heywood

John H. Jones / Paul Brynen

Robert Jones Burdette / James Carey

Martha Bennett Swope / Anna Marie Brooks

Cornelius Johnson / Rion Peavy


As a native of Pennsylvania, Lyman Stewart had ample opportunity to observe the development of the oil industry. "Oil seeps" were a common feature in the landscape, and the first oil well in the United States was drilled near Titusville. Steward invested his savings in drilling rights, but made no consistent profit. In 1883, he heard reports of potential oil fields in California available at low cost and decided to relocate.
After four unsuccessful attempts, he finally struck oil near Newhall in the same year. By 1890, he and his partners had formed the Union Oil Company and were funding development of new drilling and refining methods. They were also seeking new uses for their products.
But oil was only one of Srewart's interests. He had become increasingly involved in fundamentalist religion. He was one of the founders of the Union Rescue Mission, which distributed food, clothing and salvation to those in need. He also supported the Bible Institute of Los Angeles and the Church of the Open Door. These worthy organizations absorbed much of the profit he gained from oil, although they gave him great satisfaction.


John Jones was the proverbial self-made man. He was born in New York State, and sailed around the horn of South America to seek his fortune in California in 1854. He worked for Don Abel Stearns as a coachman. Stearns was a New Englander who came to California in 1826 and who became a naturalized Mexican citizen. He was one of the largest landowners in Southern California.
In the 1860s, Stearns lost much of his fortune after a severe drought killed most of his cattle. He borrowed money from Jones, who had saved his wages carefully. He also sold Jones land, which gave Jones a real start.
John Jones was active in many types of business. He was willing to try anything, and he had great faith in the future of Los Angeles. This faith, and his efforts, was repaid a hundredfold, as Jones and his adopted city prospered together. He found it a small, sleepy town built of adobe, and left it a bustling financial metropolis.


Robert Burdette was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Illinois. His early life included experience as a Civil War soldier and as a Cuban Revolution blockade-runner.
His career was journalism. His humorous columns for the Burlington Daily Hawk Eye earned this paper a national circulation. He extended his success to the lecture platform, where he was compared to his popular contemporary, Mark Twain. By 1888, he was still traveling the lecture circuit, but as a Baptist preacher.
In 1907, he came to California and became the first minister at the Temple Baptist Church, where he contributed substantially to the popularity of that organization. He is remembered as "the physician of the merry heart."


When Asahel Bennett left Wisconsin in 1849 to seek gold in California, his wife Sarah and their children, George, aged 8, Melissa, aged 5, and Martha aged 2, came with him. They joined a wagon train at Salt Lake in October, 1849, but the group soon split up. The Bennetts were part of a small group that decided to take a route that was said to be shorter.
The route proved to be a deception, and by December, they had lost the use of their wagons and were stranded in an area that they would aptly call Death Valley. There was water, but their food supplies were very limited. The tragedy of the Donner party was well known to the settlers. They collected what money they had, and sent their guides, William Manly and John Rogers, to travel through unmapped territory on foot. They hoped that the guides could reach a settled area and buy supplies, and return to rescue the rest of the party.
After 26 days had passed, hope almost failed, but Manly and Rogers did return. They had made a 600-mile journey to fulfill their charge and rescue the entire party, including young Martha.


Native Californian Cornelius Johnson showed athletic talent at a young age. He participated in track and field at Berendo Junior High School. As a freshman at Los Angeles High School in 1930, he cleared a high jump of 6'2" on his first day of practice. Encouraged by his coaches, he qualified for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.
In the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, he contributed to the U.S. succeeded by winning the gold medal for the high jump. He set an Olympic record of 6'8" in the sport. And if Adolph Hitler refused to congratulate him, it was Hitler's loss.
Johnson did not join his Olympics teammate Jesse Owens in professional athletics. He continued to participate as an amateur. In 1945, he joined the Merchant Marine. The following year, he was taken ill while at sea, and died before he could be taken to shore.

West Adams Heritage Association
Tour Organizing Committee
Audrey Arlington, Lyn Gillson, Corinne Pleger, Cat Slater

West Adams Heritage Association Volunteers
Andy and Bill Burnside, Jean Cade, Alma Carlisle,
Ken Catbagan, Frank and Suzanne Cooper, Arabella Davis,
Tom Gracyk, Martha Graft, Don Henderson, Ron Jarman,
Peggy King, Norma Latimar, Robert Leary, Hilary Lentini,
Laurie McGee, Ryan McGee, Jim Meister, Mitzi Mogul,
Dave Pleger, Lauren Schlau, Jaqueline Sharps,
Steve Shaw, Lana Soroko, Sally Turner

All proceeds benefit West Adams Heritage Association

The West Adams Heritage Association is a nonprofit organization. If you are interested in becoming a member, fill out and return this application along with payment to: WAHA, 2263 South Harvard Blvd., Historic West Adams, Los Angeles, CA 900018, 323-735-WAHA (323-735-9242)

Angelus Rosedale Cemetery
1831 W. Washington Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90007

home | back to top | articles | photos | records | contact us

Copyright 2004 Restore St. Mary's Cemetery.
All the articles and pictures belong to their respective owners