Editor’s Note: This is part 12 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.
East Lawn Memorial Park, as has been presented in other articles of this series, serves as the resting place for former notable Sacramentans. And with a walk around this historic cemetery, one can encounter the names of many more people who achieved noteworthy statuses during their lifetimes.
Among those memorialized at East Lawn Memorial Park are city mayors.
One of these mayors, William Land (1837-1911), had his legacy preserved through Sacramento’s grand William Land Park and a local elementary school bearing his name.
Land, a New York native who served as Sacramento’s mayor in 1898 and 1899, bequeathed $250,000 to the city for the purchase of property to establish William Land Park.
This former mayor also founded the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce – today’s Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce – and was the proprietor of local hotels.
In addition to his ownership of local hotels, Land also held large real estate interests in stock and grain ranches.
It is quite simple to locate the resting place of William Land, as he was entombed within a large, white, columned, Greek-inspired mausoleum on the cemetery’s highest elevation.
Clinton L. White
Another former Sacramento mayor, Clinton L. White (1850-1925), was also interred at this featured cemetery.
Long before he began his term as Sacramento’s mayor in 1908, Clinton, who was a native of Iowa, taught school in Placer County.
In 1877, he became an attorney and wrote a criminal law book, which was published in 1879.
Clinton served as secretary of the judiciary committee of the California State Senate in 1880 and 1881.
He was, at separate times, a partner in several law firms, including White, Miller & McLaughlin, which was located in the People’s Bank Building at 8th and J streets.
Together with his wife, the former Olive Margaret McKinney, he had two children, Herbert E. and Edith M. White.
Clinton L. White officially stepped away from his mayoral duties on Jan. 7, 1910, when Marshall Beard began his second term as mayor.
William Alpheus “Jimmie” Hicks
New York native William Alpheus “Jimmie” Hicks (1906-1961) had an eventful employment career, which included working as a newspaper columnist, editor of The Sacramento Valley Union Labor Bulletin and a postman.
While serving as Sacramento’s mayor in 1954, he resigned after being appointed deputy director of the state Department of Employment by Gov. Goodwin Knight.
William was married to the former Bertha Vivian Nelson for 30 years and together they had two children, Betty Marie (Hicks) Hogue and Nancy Anne (Hicks) Parson.
Hiram H. “Hi” Hendren
Hiram H. “Hi” Hendren (1903-1977), who served as the city’s mayor in 1954 and 1955, began his political life when he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council in December 1948.
Among his notable accomplishments was his founding of the Sacramento Valley Insurance Agency in 1934.
Additionally, Hiram, who was a native of Sacramento, provided much assistance to the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and the Volunteers of America.
He also served as co-chairman of the Citizens Committee for Good City Government and played an essential role in construction planning for the Sacramento Community Center.
In a timely awarded honor, Hiram was named “Sacramentan of the Year” by the chamber of commerce six months prior to his death at Sutter Memorial Hospital on July 4, 1977.
Joe Serna, Jr.
Joe Serna, Jr., who was interred at East Lawn Memorial Park following his death at the age of 60 on Nov. 7, 1999, passed away during his sixth year as the city’s mayor.
He was considered one of Sacramento’s most popular mayors and has the notoriety of being the city’s first and only Latino mayor. He was also a professor at Sacramento State University.
Serna, who was the son of migrant farm workers and a supporter of the United Farm Workers of America, worked toward revitalizing downtown Sacramento and renamed the park across from city hall, Cesar E. Chavez Plaza.
In 2001, in honor of the life of Serna, the 25-story Cal EPA Building at the northeast corner of 10th and I streets was renamed the Joe Serna, Jr. EPA Building.
Additionally, the Sacramento City Unified School District’s office at 5735 47th Ave. is known as the Serna Center.
William Albert Curtis
Massachusetts native William Albert Curtis (1857-1914), who was interred in a family mausoleum at East Lawn Cemetery, came to the Sacramento area when he was about 14 years old.
About a decade later, Curtis, with W. H. Wood, established the Sacramento wholesale produce and fruit packing and shipping firm, Wood, Curtis Co.
Curtis, who later founded a similar firm, the William A. Curtis Company, in San Francisco, was an extensive land owner in the Sacramento Valley and served as vice president of the California National Bank, of Sacramento.
Prior to his death on Dec. 27, 1914, Curtis had established himself as one of the city’s wealthiest residents.
Newton Jasper Earp
Many visitors of East Lawn Memorial Park enjoy visiting the gravesite of Newton Jasper Earp (1837-1928), the half-brother of Wyatt Earp (1848-1929), the notorious deputy town marshal who participated in the legendary gunfight at O.K. Corral in 1881.
The employment history of Newton, who was a veteran of the Civil War, included working as a farmer, a saloon manager and a carpenter.
Newton had a wife named Jennie, and five children, Effie May, Wyatt Clyde, Mary Elizabeth, Alice Abigail and Virgil Edwin.
At the time of his death, Newton was residing at 4426 10th Ave.
Four Royal Air Force officers were interred at the cemetery in 1943 after being killed in a crash of an American aircraft in the Fair Oaks area.
The men, Fred Hodge, John R. Latour-Eppy, John H.G. Moriarty and James A. Paterson, had been testing the aircraft, and RAF pilots and co-pilots had made 12 successful flights prior to the crash.
Although these men’s graves are occasionally inspected by a British official, no attempt has been made to return their remains to their native land.
On Feb. 1, 1947, The New York Times published an article with the headline, “Gypsies bury leader.”
The Associated Press report noted that during the previous day, “laughing and crying” Serbian gypsies gathered at the East Lawn Cemetery to pay tribute to the life of Dushon John (1879-1947), their “unofficial western king.”
The laughter, according to the article, occurred because it was the gypsies’ custom to “send their people into the hereafter under joyful circumstances.”
The gathering included the toasting of beer and soft drinks to the music of a 12-piece band from Sacramento.
John, who was a native of Belgrade, was buried with a mirror, hair oil, a toothbrush and other such items for his journey into the future.
Other notable people interred at East Lawn
East Lawn Memorial Park is the resting place of many other notable people, including Florence Clunie, who willed $150,000 to the city for the construction of a clubhouse and swimming pool at East Sacramento’s McKinley Park.
Also interred at East lawn are James R. Garlick (1888-1962), a former funeral director, county supervisor and city Board of Education member; Frank M. Jordan (1888-1970), who served as the secretary of state from 1942 to 1970; and B.T. Collins (1940-1993), who served as a state assemblyman, chief deputy to the state treasurer and a director of the California Youth Authority and the California Conservation Corps.