Brewery men memorialized at East Lawn Memorial Park

The Sacramento Brewery was located at 28th and M (now Capitol Avenue) streets.

The Sacramento Brewery was located at 28th and M (now Capitol Avenue) streets.

Editor’s Note: This is part nine in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

Among Sacramento’s identity during its earlier years was undoubtedly its position as a brewery city. And with a recent review of the records of East Lawn Memorial Park, the remains of at least seven high level local brewery men are interred at this East Sacramento cemetery.
Among these men was Philip Scheld, former owner of the Sacramento Brewery, which was located at 28th and M (now Capitol Avenue) streets.
The brewery, according to the 1880 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” was established in 1849 by a German immigrant named Peter Kadell, who during the following year began brewing beer at that site. Peter’s surname is also spelled “Cadel” in other historic references.
According to The Sacramento Union, in its June 15, 1872 edition, the brewery was rented by Philip Scheld in 1853 and purchased by him a year later.
The 1880 county history book indicates that Philip became involved in the brewery business in Sacramento in 1852.
Another version of this story, as described in the 1890 book, “An Illustrated History of Sacramento County, California,” notes that Philip “rented the brewery on the East M Street, and a month later bought it.”
Prior to becoming a Sacramentan, Philip, who was born in the town of Giessen in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt in Germany on Oct. 13, 1827, attended government schools and worked on his family’s farm.
He later immigrated to the United States with his brother, Henry. They arrived in Philadelphia after a five-week voyage on July 11, 1845.
While residing in Philadelphia, Philip worked in the bakery industry and Henry dedicated himself to the cabinet making trade.
Both brothers eventually made their way to California. Henry arrived in 1849 to become a miner.
A year later, Philip, who was then living in Baltimore, was inspired by a letter that he received from his brother to head to California immediately.
After arriving in San Francisco on March 24, 1850, Philip traveled to Sacramento aboard the steamer “Hartford” before heading to El Dorado County.
He reunited with his brother in Volcano (Amador County) several weeks later.
Philip and Henry eventually worked together teaming between the mines and Sacramento.
Both the 1880 and 1890 county history books recognize Philip as becoming involved in the hotel business outside of Sacramento.
According to the 1890 county history book, this venture began after Philip and his business partner, Daniel Troy, acquired a hotel as a default method of payment for their work baking for that hotel.
Philip and Daniel had a larger hotel built to replace the hotel they acquired, and they also had a second hotel built. They continued in this business until the fall of 1852.
After Philip became the proprietor of the Sacramento Brewery, the brewery underwent many changes, including the construction of new buildings, an increase in its property size, and the addition of Switzerland native John Oschwald as co-owner of the brewery in 1869. That partnership continued until 1876.
The aforementioned June 15, 1872 edition of The Union notes that in 1860, Philip had the old brewery moved to the rear portion of the property and had a 61-foot by 42-foot, brick building constructed on the site’s northeast corner.
The 1880 county history book described the building as having been expanded to a size of 120 feet by 100 feet. The “two-story, brick addition” was built at a cost of $4,000 by Martin Madden, who was described in the Jan. 1, 1883 edition of The Union as “the leading builder in this part of the state.”
On Oct. 2, 1873, a fire occurred at the brewery’s two-story, 24-square-foot, brick, malt house.
The fire began when the malt that was being burned in the kiln overheated. The damage, which was contained inside the building, was financially covered by the brewery’s insurance.
Another building at the brewery caught on fire on Oct. 11, 1877, resulting in $1,500 in damages.
In between these fire years, Philip, who married Germany native Margaret Fritz on April 7, 1858, was involved in a near fatal accident.
During the early afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 14, 1874, following a morning of hunting several miles east of Sacramento, Philip Scheld was driving his buggy with his son, Adolph.
As Philip was resting his arm against the muzzle of his rifle, one of the buggy’s wheels ran into a squirrel hole, causing the firearm to discharge. A shell passed through his left arm, just below his shoulder, and exited out the other side of the arm.

The Scheld family mausoleum is located on the Folsom Boulevard side of the cemetery. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The Scheld family mausoleum is located on the Folsom Boulevard side of the cemetery. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Although the injury resulted in Philip losing his arm to amputation, it was believed that he would have bled to death had the powder of his rifle not severely burned his arm, thus slowing the bleeding.
Oddly, 20 years later, Adolph accidently shot and killed Frederick C. Glueck while he was target shooting with some of his military friends.
The Union, in its Jan. 1, 1877 edition, noted that the brewery included extensive sheds and outhouses and had utilized 200 tons of barley and three tons of hops and produced 3,000 barrels of beer in the past year.
At that time, the brewery also included a 40-foot by 100-foot malt kiln and a 40-foot by 100-foot storehouse.
In the 1880 county history book, the operation of the brewery, which was then located on nearly a whole block of land, was described as follows: “It has steam power for mechanical purposes, three steam pumps, and is complete in every particular, employing throughout the year six or seven men, and having a capacity of eighteen barrels per day.”
The Union, in its Jan. 1, 1880 edition, noted that the brewery’s advantages for the manufacture of beer and shipping throughout California were “unsurpassed by those of any competitor in business.”
The 1913 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” recognizes the financial rewards that the brewery brought Philip, as follows: “Still in the pioneer period of the ‘50s, (Philip) identified himself with the brewery business that by his own industry and sagacity brought him a fortune.”
The same book also referred to the Sacramento Brewery as “one of the most profitable properties of the kind in the state.”
Evidence of the wealth of Philip, who was a millionaire, could be seen through his stately home, which he had built at 1105 L St. in 1880.
In February 1869, while still dedicating himself to the brewery as its proprietor, Philip became one of the original directors of the Capital Savings Bank of Sacramento at the southwest corner of 4th and J streets.
And from about 1878 to 1913, he was involved with Sacramento Savings Bank at the northwest corner of 5th and J streets.
In the final 12 years of that time, Philip served as president of this latter named bank.
Following his aforementioned accident, Philip continued his role in the brewery’s ownership for many years thereafter.
Beyond his brewery and banking activities, Philip also owned a considerable amount of property in Los Angeles County, served as a longtime local firefighter, president of the Sacramento Rifle Club and a director of the Sacramento Beet Sugar Company, and was a member of the Sacramento Turn Verein.
He died at his L Street home at the age of 85 during the early morning of July 30, 1913.
His funeral was a private affair held at his home two days after his passing and he was interred at East Lawn Cemetery during the same day.
Philip’s remains are located inside the Scheld family mausoleum on the Folsom Boulevard side of the cemetery.
This mausoleum is East Lawn’s only private, family mausoleum that contains both large and small crypts.
Also interred in this mausoleum are the remains of Margaret, who passed away at the age of 80 in 1916, Adolph, who died at the age of 84 in 1946, and three other members of the family – Adolph’s wife, Leila C. Scheld (1869-1936); Adolph and Leila’s daughter, Margaret Scheld Cook (1897-1961); and Philip’s niece, Ottilie Fritz (1865-1917).
Another Scheld family member, August C. Fritz, a Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany native who died at the age of 21 on Feb. 27, 1872, had his funeral services at the Sacramento Brewery during the afternoon of the following day. He was originally buried at the New Helvetia Cemetery at 31st Street (today’s Alhambra Boulevard), between H and J streets.

East Lawn Memorial Park’s establishment inspired by great flood of 1904

East Lawn Memorial Park is located at 4300 Folsom Blvd. in East Sacramento. Photo by Lance Armstrong

East Lawn Memorial Park is located at 4300 Folsom Blvd. in East Sacramento. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

For those who are familiar with Sacramento’s earlier years, it is no secret that floods influenced many decisions in the area. And today’s East Lawn Memorial Park was established as a result of the Edwards Break flood of 1904.
The flood inundated about 10,000 acres in the Riverside and Pocket areas and washed through the old city cemetery – today’s Sacramento Historic City Cemetery on Broadway, between Riverside Boulevard and Muir Way.
So great was the flood’s effect on the city cemetery that many headboards were carried away by its waters and, according to a 1905 edition of The Sacramento Bee, “there was no place to bury the dead.”
In reaction to the flood’s damage to the city cemetery, Louis Breuner, the son of John Breuner, who founded the well known John Breuner Co. home furnishing business, led an effort to establish a cemetery on 42 acres of the old Newton Booth place, which was previously known as Twin Oaks Farm.
The site was a desirable site for a cemetery due to its high ground above the city’s flood plain.
Louis F. Breuner, who was then serving as the president and manager of the John Breuner Co., which was at that time located at 600-608 K St., purchased the old Twin Oaks Farm site in 1904, following the Edwards Break flood. However, the property was for some reason placed in the name of Louis’ wife, Clara.
In addition to pursuing the construction of a cemetery on this old farmland, Louis, who served as the president of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce in 1901 and 1902, had his home built on a portion of the property in about 1911.

The Edwards Break flood of 1904 led to the establishment of the East Lawn Cemetery – today’s East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo courtesy of PHCS

The Edwards Break flood of 1904 led to the establishment of the East Lawn Cemetery – today’s East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo courtesy of PHCS

This residence had the address of 4028 Folsom Blvd. by 1918, and Louis’ home address was recognized as 4110 Folsom Blvd. by the following year.
Louis, who had previously resided at 1103 O St., continued to live in his Folsom Boulevard home until about 1923, when he moved with his family to 1128 45th St.
Assisting in Louis’ venture to have a nondenominational cemetery established east of the eastern edge of the then city limits at 31st Street – today’s Alhambra Boulevard – were other local residents, including Fred W. Kiesel and Chauncey H. Dunn.
The proposed cemetery site met the approval of Sacramento County coroner George C. McMullen.
McMullen was quoted in the March 14, 1904 edition of The Bee, as follows: “While I have not given the proposed new cemetery full consideration as yet, still it must be obvious to even a casual observer that Sacramento requires a new burying ground – and that badly. The city itself has practically no more lots for sale in the old (city) cemetery. Under political influence, the tendency is productive of inferior results. Unquestionably, the (former) Twin Oaks Farm property is the very best available for a burying ground. The proposition advanced is quite feasible. With the enterprise of those behind the project, I believe satisfactory results will follow. I have every confidence in them and understand they are going ahead, if they can secure sufficient encouragement from our citizens.”
McMullen added that even if the city desired to enlarge the old city cemetery, little space was available for such a project.
Also among those in support of the proposed cemetery was Leon H. Jacox, proprietor of Jacox Bros., a new and used furniture and upholstery store at 920 K St.
Jacox, who resided at 1901 P St., was quoted at the time as saying, “I believe a modern lawn cemetery, with a good crematory, will be a necessity within the next few years. Recent high waters has (sic) shown that all the desirable portion of the city cemetery is already occupied. No finer location could be secured than the one under discussion. It is far enough from the city, yet near enough for the purpose.”
Even at the planning stages of East Lawn Cemetery (the original name of the cemetery), many well known Sacramentans, as well as notable San Francisco residents, had arranged for lots at East Lawn.

A Christmas tree accompanies the gravesite of some loved ones in this recent photograph taken at East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

A Christmas tree accompanies the gravesite of some loved ones in this recent photograph taken at East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Among these people were: McMullen, William E. Gerber, vice president of the California State Bank and president of the Earl Fruit Co.; George Peltier, manager of the California State Bank; Daniel W. Carmichael, proprietor of the Curtis, Carmichael & Brand insurance company; and H. Edward Yardley of the Clark & Booth Co. funeral home at 1017-1019 4th St.
After the proposed cemetery site gained its necessary approval and the cemetery was established, the first burials occurred on Dec. 24, 1904.
It was then that the William F. Gormley funeral home, which was located at 912-914 8th St., disinterred the remains of seven people from a lower, flooded section of the city cemetery and relocated them to the East Lawn property.
These people were Katie, Arthur W. and Theodore Bowles of Brighton, John Bowles of Sacramento, John D. Winters of Stockton, Elizabeth Winters of Brighton and Earle A. Dudley of Arizona.
East Lawn Cemetery was dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 23, 1905.
The event, which began at 3:30 p.m., was presented from a platform that had been constructed for temporary use on the cemetery’s grounds.
Participating in the ceremony were the Rev. H. K. Booth of the Congregational Church (opening prayer); the Rev. Charles F. Oehler of the German Lutheran Church (benediction); Frank D. Ryan, president of the East Lawn Cemetery Association (short address); and Judge Carroll Cook of San Francisco (oration).
The gathering also included music by an 18-member chorus and an eight-piece orchestra.
At the time of this dedication, the cemetery included about 50 burials, which is in stark contrast to its present 99,661 burials. This latter figure does not include the 4,691 unidentified human remains that were relocated to East Lawn from East Sacramento’s old New Helvetia Cemetery in the 1950s.

Family tombstone, missing for over half a century, discovered in Auburn

Last summer, this paper published a two-part series regarding the history of the New Helvetia Cemetery, which was formerly located at the northeast corner of Alhambra Boulevard and J Street (these articles can be read at www.valcomnews.com). And since that time, news about the cemetery continues to find its way into this publication.

REPAIRED. The Asch family tombstone is shown in its restored condition. Two of the names on the stone are Barbara and John Asch. The couple emigrated with their then-four children from Baden, Germany in the late 1840s and was residing in Sacramento by the mid-1850s. John and Barbara eventually had 10 children. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

REPAIRED. The Asch family tombstone is shown in its restored condition. Two of the names on the stone are Barbara and John Asch. The couple emigrated with their then-four children from Baden, Germany in the late 1840s and was residing in Sacramento by the mid-1850s. John and Barbara eventually had 10 children. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

In February, for instance, an article appeared in this paper regarding three missing New Helvetia Cemetery markers that were recently discovered in the backyard of an East Sacramento home.

During the 1950s, the old cemetery property was sold and these flat markers were removed from the site in preparation for the construction of Sutter Junior High School – now Sutter Middle School – which had previously operated at 1816 K St.

The whereabouts of many of these markers became unknown during this transition.

In an even earlier moment in the cemetery’s history, the historic tombstones of the cemetery were removed and replaced with the aforementioned flat markers as the cemetery site became known as Helvetia Park.

Until somewhat recently, only one of the original headstones from the cemetery – that of Switzerland native Ersiglio Bonetti (1865-1885) – was known to exist.

That status changed with the February 2010 discovery of an original New Helvetia Cemetery tombstone with the names of four members of the Asch or Ash family.

The journey of the discovery of this tombstone began with Susie (Hofmeister) O’Brien, who is a resident of Oceanside, N.Y.

O’Brien, who was born in Fresno and moved with her family to New York when she was one year of age, said that she had taken an interest in her family’s history through her father’s sister, Ruth (Hofmeister) Maysonaze, who O’Brien described as a “huge genealogy buff.”

“She got me started on this,” O’Brien said. “In (the spring of) 2009, my sisters [Barbara (Hofmeister) Caporaso and Cathy (Hofmeister) Mulqueen] and I came to California for a wedding and in that time, I said, ‘As long as we are there, we have to do a little genealogy trip of Northern California, because both sides of the family are from Northern California.’”

As part of this genealogy trip, O’Brien, who was unaware that the New Helvetia Cemetery no longer existed, attempted to locate the old cemetery in hopes of finding the gravesite of her third great-great-grandparents, John and Barbara Asch.

Because she was unable to locate the cemetery, O’Brien contacted the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery to inquire about the New Helvetia Cemetery.

ORIGINAL CONDITION AND LOCATION. The Asch family tombstone is shown in this historic photograph taken at the New Helvetia Cemetery. / Photo courtesy, Center for Sacramento History / Florence Henderson Photo Collection

ORIGINAL CONDITION AND LOCATION. The Asch family tombstone is shown in this historic photograph taken at the New Helvetia Cemetery. / Photo courtesy, Center for Sacramento History / Florence Henderson Photo Collection

During her telephone conversation with Lois Dove of the Old City Cemetery Committee, O’Brien was informed by Dove that the cemetery had been closed down and that the remains of her ancestors were moved to the city cemetery in the 1950s.

O’Brien was later sent a brochure about the New Helvetia Cemetery, a copy of an historical photograph of her ancestors’ tombstone and a map of the city cemetery that showed where her ancestors were buried.

Furthermore, the brochure featured the same photograph of the Asch family tombstone on its cover.

The stone includes the names of Baden, Germany immigrants John Asch (1816-1895) and Barbara Asch (1816-1901) and two of their children, the Pennsylvania-born Franz Louis, who died in 1877 at the age of 22, and the Sacramento-born Augusta, who passed away in 1860, when she was two years old.

Although the stone recognizes the spelling of the family’s surname as “Asch,” O’Brien said that all of the other references to this name that she has seen have been spelled, “Ash.”

After uploading a digital copy of the “Asch” tombstone photograph on her family’s ancestry page on the Web site www.ancestry.com, O’Brien received an e-mail message from an Auburn (Placer County) resident, named Louise Pipher, who inquired about her relationship to the Asch family.

O’Brien explained that Pipher eventually told her that she believed that her ancestors’ tombstone was located in Auburn.

“(Pipher) had lived in Auburn for 20 years and she and her husband were going out for dinner on Valentine’s night in 2010,” O’Brien said. “They were driving past this little rock garden circular driveway, right across the street from their house. She tells her husband to back up. She had never noticed in this rock garden this tombstone. She took a picture and sent it to me and it was the middle base (of the tombstone) with the names of the Asch family.”

When asked what her reaction was to finding out about the discovery, O’Brien said, “Wow! They’re talking to me. They wanted to be found.”

O’Brien said that the house on the property with the tombstone was a rental and after attempting for some time to contact the home’s owner, Barbara Clark, in 2011, she sent a letter to the Auburn Police Department and Auburn City Hall stating that she was a benefactor of the headstone.

As a result, Clark, as O’Brien explained, called her and agreed for her to have the stone removed from the property.

O’Brien said that she learned that the stone had been brought to the Auburn property from Sacramento in 1956 by Clark’s stepfather, the late Victor Nation, who was a mason by trade and had a love for antiques. O’Brien added that Clark had no idea how her stepfather acquired the tombstone.

ASCH FAMILY DESCENDENTS. Left to right, Barbara (Hofmeister) Caporaso, Cathy (Hofmeister) Mulqueen and Susie (Hofmeister) O'Brien are descendants of Barbara and John Asch. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

ASCH FAMILY DESCENDENTS. Left to right, Barbara (Hofmeister) Caporaso, Cathy (Hofmeister) Mulqueen and Susie (Hofmeister) O'Brien are descendants of Barbara and John Asch. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

In preparation for the Asch tombstone’s return to Sacramento, Ray Young, manager of the Fair Oaks Cemetery, and Ron Clark, manager of the Sylvan Cemetery in Citrus Heights, dug up the stone free of charge in June 2011.

The stone was then delivered to Ruhkala Monument Co. at 1001 Broadway, where it was restored.

Assisting with the payment of the restoration were O’Brien and a few of her cousins in California, the Old City Cemetery Committee, the Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission and the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Emigrant Trail Chapter (of Auburn), in which Pipher is a member.

O’Brien, who contributed the majority of the funds to have the stone restored, said, “To me, (having the Asch tombstone restored and rededicated) is the least that I could do to pay respect to this couple and their journey to California. And if you look at the stone, you see how important these monuments were. I would like to think they would be proud of me and my persistence to make this happen.”

And in showing his own enthusiasm for the discovery of the Ash tombstone, Dr. Bob LaPerriere, co-chair of the Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission, said, “It was very rewarding, after two decades of being involved with the history of New Helvetia Cemetery, to locate the Asch monument and have relatives from the East Coast involved in its restoration and dedication. This certainly demonstrates what the significance of these memorials can be to the families.”

The rededication of the Asch tombstone will be a significant part of an even larger event at the cemetery.

The June 2 event will begin at noon at the front of the cemetery at 1000 Broadway, where two memorials, which were recently placed at the site through the efforts of the Old City Cemetery Committee, will be dedicated.

These memorials pay tribute to the Reeves and Jurgens families.

CAREFULLY RELOCATED. The Asch family tombstone was removed from a residential property in Auburn in June 2011. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

CAREFULLY RELOCATED. The Asch family tombstone was removed from a residential property in Auburn in June 2011. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

Among these family members was John Wesley Reeves (1845-1926), a former coroner and proprietor and superintendent of the New Helvetia Cemetery.

Following the dedication of these family memorials, those in attendance will then proceed to the second of three New Helvetia areas at the city cemetery for the rededications of the Asch and Bonetti monuments, as well as a rededication of the Jane Hall marker.

As presented in the April 5 edition of the East Sacramento News, Hall’s marker was one of three flat gravestones recently discovered in an East Sacramento backyard.

This event will conclude with a short ceremony to remember the other 100-plus people whose remains were relocated to the old city cemetery from the New Helvetia Cemetery.

FOUND IN THE FOOTHILLS. The Asch family tombstone, shown in this February 2010 photograph, was located in a residential yard in Auburn for 55 years. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

FOUND IN THE FOOTHILLS. The Asch family tombstone, shown in this February 2010 photograph, was located in a residential yard in Auburn for 55 years. / Photo courtesy, Susie O’Brien

A granite memorial recognizing these people is intended to be placed at the site in the near future.

lance@valcomnews.com

Mystery of the Missing Markers

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series regarding the history of East Sacramento’s former New Helvetia Cemetery.

It has been nearly 162 years since Captain John A. Sutter set aside 10 acres for his establishment’s first formal burial ground, the now nonexistent New Helvetia Cemetery.

The cemetery, which was eventually doubled in size, served the community for many years before evolving into a public park, which was known as Helvetia Park.

The old cemetery grounds, with the exception of a tombstone-like marker presenting information about the former cemetery, are no longer distinguishable. The land is presently the site of Sutter Middle School at 3150 I St.

In the process of creating Helvetia Park, the old cemetery, which actually adjoined East Park (today’s McKinley Park), had its headstones removed and replaced with flat gravesite identifying markers.

Unfortunately, various decisions and actions connected to the processes of creating the park and removing the cemetery in its entirety resulted in many missing tombstones and markers and even unidentified graves.

Other gravesites were presumably left unidentified in earlier times due to such possible causes as the deterioration of wooden markers and flooding that carried away wooden markers. Because of recurrent flooding in the area, there were no burials at the cemetery from 1850 to 1857.

A classic example related to the old cemetery’s missing markers was presented in the Aug. 11, 1989 edition of The Sacramento Bee, as a story was related in which a lecture about Sacramento cemeteries at California Middle School was interrupted by a boy who raised his hand and said, “We have some of those stones in our yard.”

In a meeting with the East Sacramento News last week, Dr. Bob LaPerriere, co-chair of the Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission, discussed the topic of missing tombstones and other markers from the New Helvetia Cemetery.

“When they removed the bodies in the 1950s, we’re not sure exactly what happened, but some people recall that these concrete markers were kind of stacked up along the street,” LaPerriere said. “A couple years ago, we located – just between two homes behind Sutter Middle School – over 70 of these flat, concrete markers. They were used for stepping stones and kind of to widen the driveway.”

LaPerriere said that a unique event occurred following the discovery of these markers, as the stones were transported from Sutter Middle School to East Lawn Memorial Park at Folsom Boulevard and 43rd Street via a horse-drawn wagon.

The decision to deliver these markers to East Lawn Memorial Park was a simple one, considering that the city had purchased property at the cemetery for a mass, unmarked burial site, where 4,691 unidentified human remains from the New Helvetia Cemetery were reinterred.

Unfortunately, this large number of “unknowns,” as these unidentified remains are often referred to, account for the majority of the remains from the New Helvetia Cemetery.

The Sacramento Historic City Cemetery at 1000 Broadway is the site of the remains of about 400 additional people who were once buried at the New Helvetia Cemetery.

However, these remains are individually identified and are located in three separate areas at the Broadway cemetery, west of Riverside Boulevard.

Other individually identified remains from the New Helvetia Cemetery were reinterred at the following Sacramento city and county cemeteries: East Lawn, Masonic Lawn Cemetery at 2700 Riverside Blvd., Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery at 2720 Riverside Blvd., St. Joseph’s Cemetery at 2615 21stt St., St. Mary’s Cemetery at 6700 21st St., Sacramento Memorial Lawn at 6100 Stockton Blvd., Elk Grove Cemetery at 8540 Elk Grove Blvd. in Elk Grove and the Sylvan Cemetery at 7401 Auburn Blvd. in Citrus Heights.

Despite this long list of other cemeteries, LaPerriere notes that a relatively low number of remains from the New Helvetia Cemetery were relocated to these cemeteries.

LaPerriere provided the following numbers regarding the relocations of these remains: 410 sent to Broadway cemetery, 84 to East Lawn, 32 to Odd Fellows, six to Sacramento Memorial Lawn, three to St. Joseph’s, three to Elk Grove, two to St. Mary’s and one to Masonic.

In regard to the many flat markers from the New Helvetia Cemetery site that are still missing today, LaPerriere mentioned that he would not be surprised if some of these markers are presently located on residential properties within the nearby vicinity of this former East Sacramento cemetery.

Although the aforementioned mass burial at East Lawn Memorial Park is recognized as consisting of “unknowns” or unidentified remains, this does not mean that there are no records of any of the names of the deceased people from the New Helvetia Cemetery who were reburied there.

To the contrary, records exist for many people who were buried at the New Helvetia Cemetery and it is by deduction from the names of those who were reinterred in other local cemeteries that a list of assumed names was created for the mass burial site at East Lawn Memorial Park.

LaPerriere said that East Lawn Memorial Park, although it was not obligated to do so, greatly contributed to the cemetery’s mass burial site.

“The city never put up a marker or anything (at the mass burial site), absolutely nothing,” LaPerriere said. “It took John Bettencourt (the late cemetery historian and preservationist who was vital in the formation of the Old City Cemetery Committee) and I working with East Lawn, quite a few years ago, to get the area memorialized. East Lawn, of course, had no responsibility to do it. The city bought the area, buried the people and the city should have taken care of things. But East Lawn, being very community minded, worked with us and they put four (right angle) corner walls in around the area to demarcate the area and they put a nice monument in the center memorializing those who were moved from New Helvetia (Cemetery).”

In addition to this burial site’s corner markers, most of the perimeter of the site is outlined with the flat, concrete markers that had been retrieved from the residential yards near Sutter Middle School.

As of about two years ago, the whereabouts of only one verified original tombstone from the New Helvetia Cemetery was known.

But fortunately, it was discovered that another original New Helvetia Cemetery tombstone – that of members of the Asch family – was located in Auburn.

About a month ago, the stone was relocated to Sacramento and it will soon be placed in the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery’s already existing Asch plot.

LaPerriere said that anyone with information regarding missing headstones or markers from the New Helvetia Cemetery is encouraged to call the Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission at (916) 874-9103 or write to the e-mail address: cemeterycommission@saccounty.net.

Anyone with information regarding missing headstones or markers from the New Helvetia Cemetery is encouraged to call the Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission at (916) 874-9103 or write to the e-mail address: cemeterycommission@sac

county.net

Pioneer cemetery once sat at site of East Sacramento’s Sutter Middle School

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series regarding the history of East Sacramento’s former New Helvetia Cemetery.

When it comes to local history, many longtime Sacramentans can proudly tell those of younger generations how they remember when East Sacramento’s Sutter Middle School, which is located south of McKinley Park at the corner of Alhambra Boulevard and J Street, was the site of a city park. But few people today can recall seeing the site during its pre-park years.

Sutter Middle School at the corner at Alhambra Boulevard and J Street was once the site of a pioneer cemetery. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Sutter Middle School at the corner at Alhambra Boulevard and J Street was once the site of a pioneer cemetery. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

It is somewhat ironic that the only evidence at this site relating to this earlier era is a tombstone-like marker, which describes the property’s former existence as a pioneer cemetery, which included many large markers.

Indeed, a full-fledged cemetery, complete with stone and wooden headstones and large monuments, once covered the site where the school grounds are located today, as is evident by the information provided on the non-cemetery marker – which sits along the fence line of the school’s Alhambra Boulevard side – as well as a variety of historical documentations.

The fact that the cemetery was established in the 1840s as the burial plot of Sutter’s Fort is sufficient enough information for one who has at least a general understanding of Sacramento’s roots to realize that the school sits on one of the city’s most historic sites.

Referred to in some references as being initially called the “Sutter Fort Burying Ground,” this former, private 20-acre cemetery, which was renamed the New Helvetia Cemetery in 1850 in recognition of its location within Captain John Sutter’s Mexican land grant by the same name, became the burial place of deceased pioneers of the area.

According to an article in the Nov. 12, 1873 edition of The Sacramento Union, after some confusion as to who was the first person to be buried at the cemetery, it was determined that this notoriety belonged to Major Cloud, a paymaster in the United States Army, who died in July or August 1847 – a day after falling off his horse about a half-mile southeast of Sutter’s Fort.

Also significant in the cemetery’s history was the existence of a burial site that included the remains of many of the victims who died during the city’s cholera epidemic of 1850.

In the northeast corner of the cemetery was property designated for Chinese burials.

This area was divided into four, 50-foot by 50-foot sections, two of which were surrounded by iron fences and the other two with wooden fences. And in each lot was a furnace for burning clothing and property of the deceased and incense.

The cemetery was purchased from Sutter by Dr. R.H. McDonald in 1850, and seven years later, it was sold to J.W. Reeves.

During Reeves’ ownership of the New Helvetia Cemetery, in 1860, it was reported by The Union that the cemetery had totaled 420 interments.

Reeves later deeded the cemetery to the city of Sacramento for use as a public cemetery.

In 1885, the cemetery was overhauled, as very large trees that were believed to detract from the beauty of the burial grounds were removed, smaller trees were trimmed, weeds were cut down, driveways were improved and aging redwood markers were refurbished.

A year after the cemetery’s major facelift, however, the Sacramento Record-Union reported that the writing on many redwood markers had been “obliterated by the rains of succeeding winters” and in one corner of the property, headboards “blackened with age” stood so close together that they had the appearance of a “stubble field” – a field where plant material such hay has been cut and left with short stubble.

On May 12, 1887, the Record-Union described the cemetery as being under the management of Nicholas Mohns, who was reported to have prided himself in “keeping everything scrupulously neat.”

During the same time, Mohns, who resided at 2830 O St., was also in charge of the Jewish cemetery, which was established on the opposite side of J Street in 1850.

Although there is no complete record of the interments of the New Helvetia Cemetery in existence, various records reveal the names of those who were buried at the cemetery.

This c. 1909 photograph shows the gravesite of the Rev. Elijah Merchant, a pioneer preacher and pastor, who had his ashes interred in the New Helvetia Cemetery in 1857. / Photo public domain

This c. 1909 photograph shows the gravesite of the Rev. Elijah Merchant, a pioneer preacher and pastor, who had his ashes interred in the New Helvetia Cemetery in 1857. / Photo public domain

For instance, preserved in the 1909 “Souvenir History of the First Methodist Episcopal Church” – a book written for the 60th anniversary of the church – is a biography of the Rev. Elijah Merchant, a pioneer preacher and pastor whose ashes were placed in the New Helvetia Cemetery 153 years ago.

A rare photograph from the cemetery appears in the book and features Merchant’s old headstone, which was engraved with the words: “Elijah Merchant, member of the Cala Conference, Died at Los Angeles, Oct. 26, 1857, aged 28 years, ‘I have fought a good fight.’”

The book also notes that the ashes of other preachers who participated in the annual “California Conference,” which was referred to on Merchant’s headstone, were consecrated within the same plot at the cemetery.

Additionally, the 1909 First M.E. Church book refers to a then-current and now historical part of the cemetery’s history, the possible removal of the cemetery.

Due to flooding during the cemetery’s early years and eventual development in the area, discussions regarding the abandonment and potential elimination of the cemetery continuously resurfaced.

The cemetery officially operated until 1912, despite the fact that the city had previously discouraged any future burials at this cemetery and suggested that many of the existing remains at this site be relocated.

In the midst of the well-publicized efforts to transform the cemetery into a park, the city purchased the Chinese portion of the cemetery for $3,020 in 1917 and the Chinese remains were removed.

Work to eliminate tombstones from the old cemetery for a future park resulted in only 15 tombstones being present at the site in early July 1918.

Although the park plan was approved by the city’s park board in January 1920, efforts to replace the site’s monuments with small markers was a lengthy process, as nine graves still had monuments on them as late as July 1922.

This tombstone-like marker provides details about the New Helvetia Cemetery, which once sat where Sutter Middle School is located today. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

This tombstone-like marker provides details about the New Helvetia Cemetery, which once sat where Sutter Middle School is located today. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

The remaining tombstones were eventually removed and the park became known as Helvetia Park.

However, the fact that most of the graves were still located at the park was not entirely lost, as the park remained a cemetery, included markers, and many of the city’s annual directories listed the site as Helvetia Cemetery Park.

The site remained a park until the early 1950s, and in the mid-1950s, the remains of 5,235 people were removed from the park and relocated to other local cemeteries, in anticipation of the construction of Sutter Junior High School – presently Sutter Middle School – at 3150 I St.

City’s first Jewish cemetery was located in today’s East Sacramento

The East Sacramento/midtown Sacramento area is undoubtedly one of the most historic sections of the city, considering that this area is home to Sutter’s Fort, the site of the 1839 settlement, which predates the founding of the city of Sacramento by a decade. When the city was only about a year old, Sacramento’s first Jewish cemetery was founded about a half-mile north of the fort.
The Home of Peace cemetery on Stockton Boulevard replaced the original Jewish cemetery in East Sacramento in 1924. / Photo courtesy of Robert Wascou

The Home of Peace cemetery on Stockton Boulevard replaced the original Jewish cemetery in East Sacramento in 1924. / Photo courtesy of Robert Wascou

Across the street from the area’s first cemetery, Sutter’s Burial Ground – later known as the New Helvetia Cemetery – which had its first interment in 1845, was the aforementioned Jewish cemetery.

Property for this Jewish cemetery, which was located on J Street, between what would be 32nd Street, if the street were to extend to this location, and 33rd streets, was purchased in 1850 from Ring Rose J. Watson by Louis Schaub, in trust for the Hebrew Benevolent Society.

Moses Hyman, a prominent merchant who came to the area from New Orleans in 1849 with Samuel Harris Goldstein, donated $150 to the Jewish Benevolent Society for the establishment of the cemetery.

Cemetery’s first resident

An account regarding Hyman and Goldstein is documented in the June 3, 1850 edition of the Placer Times – Sacramento’s first newspaper – as follows:

“On the downward trip of the (steamboat) Gov. Dana on Friday (May 30, 1850), Mr. Harris Goldstein, a merchant of Marysville, fell overboard in an attempt to get a bucket of water from the (Feather) River, about four miles below Marysville. He swam well at first, and all aboard, including his son, about 14 years of age, had perfect confidence that he would reach the shore. He was observed to turn on his back, as if to rest himself, and then sank to rise no more. He had some $1,600 in (gold) dust on his person. We are furnished with numerous testimony to Capt. Young’s exertions to rescue him. The scene, when hope had fled, was most distressing. The agony of his son (Jacob) drew forth many a manly tear of sympathy and the truest commisseration (sic) was expressed for the wife (Rosina) and children home in New Orleans.”

This headstone marks the gravesite of Samuel Harris Goldstein, who was possibly the first person buried at the Jewish cemetery in East Sacramento. / Photo courtesy of Robert Wascou

This headstone marks the gravesite of Samuel Harris Goldstein, who was possibly the first person buried at the Jewish cemetery in East Sacramento. / Photo courtesy of Robert Wascou

Although it is unknown where Goldstein was originally buried, his remains were re-interred in the Jewish cemetery on J Street and later moved to the city’s current Jewish cemetery, Home of Peace of Sacramento, which is located on Stockton Boulevard at El Paraiso Avenue.

Robert Wascou, cemetery project coordinator of the Jewish Genealogical Society, said that based on his personal research, he believes Goldstein may have been the first person to be buried at the Jewish cemetery on J Street.

“At the time of Goldstein’s death, there was no Jewish cemetery in Sacramento, so therefore he would have been buried in another cemetery,” Wascou said. “Since the New Helvetia Cemetery was closed to burials due to recurrent flooding, he was likely buried in the city cemetery (which was established at the present day corner of Broadway and Riverside Boulevard in 1849). Unfortunately, there was no superintendent of the city cemetery at that time and no records were kept. My feeling is that he was probably the first or one of the first people buried in the Jewish cemetery, because of his friendship with Moses Hyman.”

Hyman later had another connection with Goldstein, as he married his widow, Rosina.

Original location on J Street

During the existence of the city’s original Jewish cemetery, which is presently the site of about a dozen businesses, including the historic Club Raven at 3246 J St., about 500 bodies were buried at the cemetery.

Early additions to the Jewish cemetery occurred in 1863 with the construction of a chapel and a brick wall, which bordered the cemetery.

This present day view of J Street in East Sacramento shows the site of the city’s first Jewish cemetery. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

This present day view of J Street in East Sacramento shows the site of the city’s first Jewish cemetery. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

A reference to the Jewish cemetery in the May 29, 1886 edition of The Sacramento Union describes the site as follows: “This cemetery is well kept and contains many handsome monuments, five of which were placed in position during the last month. This cemetery is under the charge of Nicholas Mohns.”

Mohns, who resided at 2830 O St., where Meritage Insurance is presently located, maintained the title of the cemetery’s sexton, a position that he also held at the New Helvetia Cemetery by as early as 1889.

During this era, the cemetery was located near Nehemiah, Albert and George Clark’s Pacific Pottery at 34th and J streets.

The Clarks’ business, however, was destroyed by fire during the afternoon of Dec. 18, 1887. The fire was reported to have originated in the kiln room on the eastern end of the business’s two-story, wood-frame, main structure.

Move to present location

In 1924, the property for the Jewish cemetery on Stockton Boulevard was purchased from Walter W. Bassett, a bank cashier who resided at 1224 40th St.

Club Raven at 3246 J St. is the most notable landmark on the former site of the Jewish cemetery in East Sacramento. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Club Raven at 3246 J St. is the most notable landmark on the former site of the Jewish cemetery in East Sacramento. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

While observing historic Home of Peace records, Wascou presented the following information regarding the relocation of the remains at Sacramento’s original Jewish cemetery: “They started moving the 500 remains to Home of Peace in the spring of 1926 and by June 1926, 104 bodies had been moved,” Wascou said. “It was noted in the cemetery’s minutes of May 16, 1927 that 70 bodies were moved and 10 more would be moved in the coming week. In the May 21, 1928 minutes, there were yet 48 bodies to be moved from the old cemetery. In the Nov. 14, 1929 minutes, there were about 25 graves yet to be moved. The last section of the old Jewish cemetery was sold to Paul and Isabel Prom (of 1545 38th St.) on Nov. 6, 1945.”

Wascou added that about 250 bodies were moved to the Home of Peace cemetery and that other bodies were moved to the Jewish cemeteries in Colma in San Mateo County, or to other Jewish sites.

Today, the Home of Peace cemetery, which consists of more than 2,500 burials and is under the direction of its executive director, Lewis Rosenberg, represents a continuation of 160 years of serving the Jewish community of the Sacramento region.

The original main gate of the Home of Peace cemetery is located at the corner of Stockton Boulevard at El Paraiso Avenue. / Photo courtesy of Robert Wascou

The original main gate of the Home of Peace cemetery is located at the corner of Stockton Boulevard at El Paraiso Avenue. / Photo courtesy of Robert Wascou