El Campo Santo

El Campo Santo Cemetery, San Diego Old Town, CA, USA

A small cemetery of rogues, thieves and unknown persons tucked away in the Old Town on San Diego Avenue is well worth a visit. The oldest and most fragile gravestones are protected by white picket fences. 477 bodies are buried there, and tales of ghostly apparitions have been reported.

The old adobe walled Roman Catholic El Campo Santo Cemetery was established in 1849. Until 1880 it was the burial place for many members of the Old Town’s founding families as well as for a few gamblers and bandits who passed through the town.

Antonio Garra, a chief who led an uprising of the San Luis Rey Indians, was executed at El Campo Santo in front of the open grave he had been forced to dig for himself.

John Stiles
San Diego_Stiles
Sacred to the memory of John Stiles/who came to his death/
from a bullet/from a revolver/It was one of the old fashioned/kind and brass mounted/& such is the Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus 1879
San Diego_Jesus
Died December 1879/Aged 25 years/Excerpt from the Book of the Dead/’December 15, 1879, I have given/Ecclesiatical burial to Jesus Indian/25 years, who died of a blow without/receiving Sacraments. They told me/that he was completely drunk, and/thus I command him to be buried near/the gate of the cemetery’/(signed) Juan Pujol, Priest.

Bill Marshall
Bill Marshall/is not here,/but on the other side/of the wall
San diego_Marshall

Bill Marshall was an American man, a renegade sailor from Providence, Rhode Island who had deserted from a whaling ship in San Diego in 1844. He married the daughter of a local Indian chieftain and lived with the Indians. He took an active part in the Garra Indian uprising in 1851.

Bill and the Indian Juan Verduga were captured and brought back to San Diego to be promptly tried by court martial. They were found guilty and sentenced to hang. The Indian acknowledged his guilt but Marshall insisted he was innocent.

At 2 o’clock in the afternoon of December 13, 1851, a scaffold was erected on the Thomas Whaley property near the old Catholic cemetery, El Camp Santo . The men were placed on a wagon and the ropes adjusted about their necks. The wagon moved on leaving them to strangle to death.

The funeral of Anita Gillis (click on the photo for a larger image)
San diego_Gillis

Oscar Wilde

Pere LaChaise Cemetery, 16 Rue du Repos, Paris, France

This famous Parisian cemetery was named for Pere Francois de La Chaise (1624-1709), the spiritual adviser of King Louis XIV. Steep cobbled avenues lead past grandiose and sometimes dilapidated tombs. Many famous celebrities are buried here, and without a map it would be impossible to find them as the cemetery is extremely large. It is said that each family tried to outdo the sculptures, monuments, tombs and crypts which has led to many spectacular works of art.

Oscar Wilde’s memorial is covered with lipstick kisses. The grease contained in the lipstick seeps into the stone and repeated removal by cleaning is eroding the stone.

Oscar Wilde’s tomb 1900
‘And alien tears will fill for him
Pities long broken arm
For his mourners will be outcast men
And outcasts always mourn.’

owilde

DeForrest Pioneer Cemetery

Located at Walker’s Line and Derry Road in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

This is a tiny overgrown cemetery on an incline holding a dozen or more forgotten gravestones dating back to the 1800’s. Most of the inscriptions are illegible due to erosion of the soft stone. The site is believed to be haunted and is regularly visited by Paranormal Societies.

1851 stone:
“While on earth I did remain
Suffered much with grief and pain
But when the Lord tho’t it best
he took me to eternal rest.”

Burlington_DeForrest

Anatomy of a Cemetery

Did you know that early graves were seldom in the neat rows that we are used to seeing? Burials were haphazard. Families didn’t own plots and burial spaces were often reused. In many burial grounds graves face all four points on the compass. Sometimes a hilly site will have stones facing all four directions.

The north side of the cemetery was considered less desirable and was often the last part of the burying ground to be used. It was frequently set aside for slaves, servants, suicides, ‘Jane Does’ etc.

In cemeteries around the world, the vast majority of graves are oriented so that bodies lie with their heads to the West and their feet to the East. This very old custom appears to originate with the Pagan sun worshippers, but is also attributed to Christians who believe that the final summons to Judgment will come from the East. With their feet pointing toward the east the dead will be ready to rise up and be reborn.

In many Christian traditions, ordained clergy are traditionally buried in the opposite orientation, and their coffins carried likewise, so that at the General Resurrection they may rise facing, and ready to minister to the people.

Montmartre, Paris, France
Montmartre, Paris, France
Holy Cross. Colma, CA, USA
Holy Cross. Colma, CA, USA

             

Mors Ianua Vitae: Death is the gate of life