Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Further examples of neglect

Don't forget for a second that each of these markers represent people who were laid to rest here by families that loved them.

Yes, this a very old stone that is now illegible. It once had paint on it but that has faded. Why is this where debris is collected? Are the remains of anyone else under the rubbish?

I still cannot fathom how a church can allow this to happen to a cemetery they bought and promised to "clean up" over a decade ago. Bethany Slavic Missionary Church is one of the area's "Megachurches" with well over 3,000 people in its congregation. Over 3,000 members, and they cannot get a dozen volunteers to perform their "Christian duty" to take properly care of the resting places of the deceased that their church willingly and readily purchased? Don't forget that ALL modern Slavic graves are immaculate and extravagantly cared for at both cemeteries in Quiet Haven Memorial Park. The dichotomy is palpable and pathetic. It is clear that management feels the only graves worth caring for are deceased church members. I hate to say that, but there is really no other conclusion to draw in light of the apparent and overwhelming evidence.

Can anyone please explain?

Apparently some attention was paid to these two graves but the tasks were left unfinished?

Myra Chambers, 1906-2007

This is curious. We have a temporary marker and the permanent marker sitting off to the side of the cemetery along the fence with the other misplaced stones. Why is this? 2007 is not long enough ago for the cemetery to have misplaced Myra's remains.

Myra was loved. She was probably a mother, a grandmother, maybe a great grandmother? She lived 98 years. Apparently she was a Registered Nurse, so she cared for others. Why, barely three years after her death, is her grave marker set aside with the other misplaced stones?

Her obituary ran in the Sacramento Bee on December 9, 2007. Without paying the obituary archive service, I can read the first line: "CHAMBERS, Myra Catherine Died on December 6, 2007. Myra is survived by her grandson Michael Brian Chambers, devoted friend Dennis John Huber, and son John."

"Saving Graves"

This site does not seem to have been updated since 2004, but it is interesting to note its assessment of "Bell View Cemetery" in 2000.

It claims 1500 grave sites and that the oldest was 1839? Maybe that's just a typo? Listed key problems includes "apathy," (I agree). Also claims to have contacted local news station and "authorities". The Sac Bee article on a community meeting was at the end of 2000, so perhaps is listing coincided with the December meeting?


Saving Graves

Bell View Cemetery

Sacramento, Sacramento County, California

Date: December 19, 2000

Cemetery: Bell View Cemetery
Street: 9899 Elder Creek Rd.
City: Sacramento
County: Sacramento
State: CA
Nation: United States
Zip: 95829-9305
Nearby: Bradshaw Rd.
Land Type: Private
Status: Active
Accessible: Yes
Unmarked graves: Yes
Graves within: 1500
Oldest grave: 1839
Newest grave: unknown
Records: Unsure
Inventory: Yes
Records location:
Owner: The Bethany Slavic Church
Condition: Cemetery destroyed
Broken Headstones
Fallen Headstones
Previous contacts: Channel 40 and the authorities
Work Status: The current status of this cemetery is: Unknown

Submitted by / Contact for additional Information:

name: Tawney Mitchell
Email: TotalyTawney@aol.com [still active?]

Heringer Family

As I think it is important to remember that each burial represents a person that had a life story and had a family that cared for them, I'm including a partial genealogy of a family that used this cemetery that I found by accident during a Google search.


According to Find a Grave, there are three Heringers listed in Bellview Cemetery: John , Geertje, and Jennie. They were born in Holland and immigrated to America to eventually settle in the farmland surrounding Bellview Cemetery. Geertje died in 1898, John in 1902 , and at least one of their children, Jennie, was also buried here in 1898. There are no pictures of their headstones, so I wonder if they just have not been uploaded or if they are among the hundreds of missing markers in this cemetery.

Their story from the "Five Families" site:

John Heringa, later changed to Heringer, was born 16 March 1819, in the province of Groningén, Holland, his parents being Peter and Geertje Heringa. The later died when John was seven years old and the former died two years later, in 1829. In the family which survived they were two children, one son and a daughter. They both lived with their grandmother, but when John was twelve years of age he was bound out to farm work for six months in the adjoining county of Birum, at the expiration of which time he went to live with an uncle in Appingedam, who kept a dry-goods store and manufactured woolen goods. John remained with him nine years and learned the weaving trade, at which he Worked part of the time and the rest of the time at farming following nine years he served in the army, then in 185 he was engaged on the police.-force in the own of Oppenhuezen. While there he met Geertje Joustra, a native of Oppénhuezen, in Friesland, born 29 Jan 1835, whom he Married in 1857. On 19 July 1868, having saved $1,100, they started for America, sailing from Liverpool and landing in Boston., thence to New York, where they arrived after a voyage of fourteen days.

After stopping New York three days they took a steamer for Panama, thence to San Francisco, landing 14 Sept 1868. The next day they came to Sacramento, where a friend and a countryman, sold them a small ranch of thirty acres, located in the Merritt District, Yolo County, for $600. They next invested $300 in cows and started in the dairy business. They lived there three years then sold the place for $1000 and bought 160 acres, devoted to general farming, in Sacramento County, located near what is now Mather Field Air Base. Mr. Heringa died 31 Jan 1902; Mrs. Heringa died 3 Mar 1898, both are buried in Bell View Cemetery, Sacramento County. All children, except Charles, born in Oppenhuezen, Friesland, Holland.

2+ Peter, b 27 Sept 1859; d 19 June 1946; in 25 Dec 1890, Ella Brinupkey
3+Josepha, b 6 Oct 1861; d 13 Mar 1912; in 29 Aug 1885; Martha Tromp (6)
4+Jöhn, b 12 June 1863; d 30 Aug 1906; in 7 Oct 1887, Charlotte Pylman.
5+Jennie, b 9 Mar 1866; d 11 Oct 1898; in 29 Jan 1886, Hiram Bish.
6+ Charles, b 4 Dec 1877; d 25 Apr 1946; in Tillie Annie Moore.

Find a Grave

The site "Find a Grave" has 708 burials at Bellview Cemetery online so far, including several of the neglected plots. Even Natividad Gomez is included with photo. However, George Wilson (one that that I partially uncovered in order to read the name in the post below), is not listed. I will update his listing at Find a Grave as soon as I have a chance to go back out to Bellview and clean a few of these markers up to photograph as I'm sure they were overlooked previously.

Most of these listings include photos, so perhaps my intended task of photographing all and posting them here will be a much smaller endeavor than I imagined.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Shameful neglect

Before I realized the extent of the problem, I tried to clean off some tombstones in order to read the names. The modicum of respect for the dead should be that their names are left visible when they have stones that still bear their names. After trying to clean off the first few stones to read who I was paying respects to, I saw that this was a systematic problem at Bellview Cemetery and started to leave them as I found them in order to take pictures for evidence. The photos posted here are not meant to illustrate the extent of the problem- this is only a sampling of the obvious disrespect rampant here. There is NO EXCUSE for a cemetery to care so little about those who are buried there as to let so many stones become buried and unreadable. Is it any wonder that so many graves have been "lost" here? Management apparently cannot be bothered to keep soil and weeds from overtaking the identities of the deceased.

Remember: this isn't the problem of a small grounds crew and management that could not take proper care of these graves. They have made an conspicuous show of how well they tend to modern Slavic graves. The attention to these graves is so over the top in abject contrast to the care given the historical graves in this cemetery it is unconscionable.

Not one modern grave is left unadorned, yet the only adornment for the graves that preexisted this church's ownership of these grounds seems to be mud, gravel, weeds, and animal droppings.

Is this responsible cemetery management- and how can a church, of all possible owners- allow this to happen?

As cemetery management obviously has problems tending to their mission, I have a mind to go out here with a shovel myself, though I need some garden tools and some help. The community should not have to volunteer as this is supposedly a professionally managed cemetery- one whose tagline on its website is "Service you can trust!" However, reality seems to be harsh and unmistakable. The management's utter disregard for historical graves is as undeniable as it is atrocious.

Satellite View Notes

The view from above says a lot- you can see the stark contrast between the lawn portion of the cemetery and the gravel portion by air, though if that were not clear enough I outlined it in blue.

The yellow mark is where the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors put the Bellview Cemetery monument citing that over 800 people were buried here between 1961-1973. As it is at the section of the cemetery that turns to gravel, I am not sure if it meant to demarcate only the gravel section or if it was placed in the center of the graveyard to indicate both sides.

The orange outline is the line of modern Slavic graves, all of which are covered in fake, colorful flowers in abject contrast to the poorly cared for graves that preceded them. These "new" graves abut antique stones buried in the ground so it is not a leap of faith to assume that there is over-burying here.

The purple outline is the approximate placement of the "lost" stones. There are grave markers and a foundation of a marker sitting over here against the fence because they were somehow separated from the plots.

The red outline is the juniper bushes where there are a cluster of children and infant graves, most of which were from the 60s and 70s, despite the majority of markers surrounding the bushes being from the 1800s or early 1900s. This is also where I found an old marker for a five year old child face down in the dirt which I propped upright against the base of the juniper. I also discovered Miracle-Gro boxes discarded and stuffed in the branches of the bushes! I pulled them out and threw them in plain view of the cemetery staff to tend to. I thought that littering by the very people who are supposed to care for the cemetery grounds was inexcusable.

Google Earth View

Here you can see Old Bellview Cemetery's relation to "Quiet Haven Memorial Park" and the long road between the cemeteries.

Google Map View

Note: Google's Alternative Spelling

Natividad Gomez, 1914-1971

She was not included in any of the published lists of this cemetery. As her epitaph indicates she had children (who remember her), it is important that she be included as a "resident" of this cemetery.

Apparently she was once left flowers which have been strewn about by wind, animals, or perhaps the cemetery management's infamous tractors.

Cemetery Listings

"Old Bellview Cemetery" listing:

Slightly more complete Bellview Cemetery listing compiled in 2009 as an Eagle Scout project:

It is my intention to photo-catalog the markers here eventually. There are a number already online thanks to Shelley Lewis of the Sloughouse Area Genealogical Society/Tombstone Transcription Project. http://www.usgwarchives.net/ca/sacramento/photos/tombstones/bellview/

I have not yet started methodically plotting the visible markers at this cemetery, but I do know that I have at least one name/grave that was not captured by any of the above lists, which is why I want very much to photograph every marker in this cemetery. The dead deserve our reverence and respect. It is a shame that this cemetery has been the victim of such utter disregard and mismanagement over the years, but the people who were interred here deserve at least to have their names known and their markers available online for their descendants and relatives to be able to see. I hope that living relatives of the deceased will make a visit and try to care for their loved one's graves as it is apparent the current management is not doing its due duty for the deceased.

Archived email from a genealogical volunteer

This message seems to have some misinformation and a lot of misspellings but it is valuable because the volunteer in question had spoken to the cemetery owner in 2004 and was told that there were records for both cemeteries (in this case meaning Bellview in the back and "Quiet Haven" near the road) but the records were in disorder. If the records for these cemeteries exist, then why haven't the misplaced markers been put back on their associated graves?

From: [email suppressed]
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2004 7:04 PM
To: transcriptions@myroots.net
Subject: Information and entrance photos for Quite Haven & Bellview Cemetery

Hi Peggy,
I thought I would drop you a line to update you on some cemeteries here in Sacramento,
Sacramento County, California. There appears to be a lot of confusion on both these
cemeteries and since I recently went through that confusion myself, I thought I would
share with you what I did find in hopes no one else has to go through that experience.

The Cemetery's are that of Bellview Cemetery (also spelled Bellevue or Belleview by many)
and that of Quite Haven Memorial Park Cemetery - AKA - Arlington Memorial Cemetery.
The confusion I found lays in that many think they are all 1 cemetery. NOT TRUE! Indeed,
both Cemeteries are on the same property and own by the same owner, but they are 2
different cemeteries all together with different names. Arlington Cemetery might have been
the old name but the new name is Quite Haven Memorial Park Cemetery. It is located at
9899 Elder Creek Road in Sacramento. It is clearly seen from Elder Creek Road and has a
sign and address on the gate. The Russian Slavic Church now owns BOTH cemeteries.
The contact person for the cemeteries is Victor. Victor's phone number is 369-5520.
Victor says that they have cemetery records for both Cemeteries but the records are not in
order and will not do look up's at this time. He suggests that one just walk the cemetery to
find a grave. He says the Church will be working on these records and will have them available
on there website he hopes soon. Here is their website for both cemeteries. http://quiethaven.org/

Next confusion. The Bellview Cemetery is on the same property as the Quite Haven Memorial
Park Cemetery, but is NOT visible from Elder Creek Road and no sign is posted on the gate of
Quite Haven Cemetery, thus one would never know there is even another cemetery on the property.
Therefore, I thought I would give one some directions to the Bellview Cemetery. One would go to
the Quite Haven Memorial Park Cemetery and drive through the gate into the parking lot. Keep
driving through the parking lot until it dead ends and then turn left. Keep going until it dead ends
again and turn right. Go pass a house that is sitting on your right into another gate and you will
see the Bellview Cemetery. There, in the middle of the cemetery, is a lovely maker which explains
about the Bellview Cemetery which I took a photo of and have attached for you viewing. This part
cemetery is not as well cared for as the Quite Haven Cemetery. Although I did see some
improvements upon my second visit. Lots of critters running around, so be careful is my word of
caution. Ground gophers, Rabbits, flies, and yes, even some snakes. It is very isolated except for
the house near the cemetery entrance I suggest one take someone with them and not go alone.
Very little shade, so take a hat and lots of water. And watch for the holes that the gofers have made
under headstones.

You website adds to the confusion and lists Old Belleview Cemetery as part of Arlington
Cemetery - AKA Quit Haven Cemetery. Indeed, I am interest in old names and new names of
cemeteries as well but I feel more should be added on your website to limit the confusion of these
two different cemeteries. I hope you agree! Maybe you did not have this information before, therefore
I am in hope that my information to you in this E-mail is helpful.

Thank you so much Peggy for all your efforts and God Bless you & yours....

[name omitted]

Sacramento Bee article December 21, 2000*

*Wherein "new" owners accidentally break/move markers, admit incompetence, and pledge to do right by the dead. Over a decade later, has anything improved?

Cemetery Cleanup Leads to Mix-Up

Workers Knock Over Old Bellview Headstones; Managers Seek to Correct Problem

A 30-year period of mismanagement had things at Old Bellview Cemetery looking pretty grim, but when the new owners tried to spruce things up, they stirred up a storm of criticism. While trying to clean up an area of the cemetery with a small tractor, workers knocked over some headstones, said Valintin Kalinovskiy, the cemetery's executive director. Old Bellview Cemetery is a small portion of Arlington Cemetery which was bought by Bethany Missionary Slavic Church less than two years ago. "We were cleaning up," said Kalinovskiy.The problem was not easily solved, however, because the cemetery does not have an accurate map of where all the headstones belong or where all the bodies are buried, Kalinovskiy said. Critics and cemetery management met Wednesday in an attempt to solve the problem. The two groups are looking for family members of those buried at the old cemetery to come forward and help figure out where the headstones belong. "Unfortunately for them," said Bob LaPerriere, chairman of Sacramento's Old City Cemetery Committee, "they inherited a cemetery with 30 years of problems." The cemetery on Elder Creek Road between Bradshaw and Excelsior roads "had been vandalized, unkempt, and in really poor shape before the Slavic Missionary Church bought it," LaPerriere said. Kalinovskiy said that the number of headstones disturbed by the cleanup efforts had been grossly exaggerated and that most of the displaced stones had been out of place before the church took ownership. "Only two headstones were moved by us," Kalinovskiy said. The cemetery is looking forward to working with the families to correct matters, he said. "We want to work together and do the right thing," Kalinovskiy said. Margie Porteous is one of the handfuls of Sacramento residents who attended the meeting with the church. Porteous said she has many family members buried in the cemetery, including her grandparents and great-grandparents. She was among those upset with the condition of the cemetery."You would not be happy if you went into the cemetery and found that grave markers were not in the right spot. It is very upsetting," Porteous said. She repeated the call for those with family members buried in the cemetery to come forward to help identify grave sites and eventually rehabilitate the cemetery. She also said there ought to be better laws governing cemetery record-keeping. "There is really nobody to oversee what is going on," she said. LaPerriere said there was no malicious intent on the part of the church. "I don't think the church meant to do anything out of bounds. They weren't aware of how to approach this. They have done some good out there," he said. LaPerriere said he thinks that ultimately more good than bad will come from the situation. "Sometimes it takes something like this to draw enough public attention so some good can come from it," he said.Anyone with a family member buried in Old Bellview is asked to call the Old City Cemetery Committee at (916)448-5665.

Following the internet crumbs

This poor cemetery was the victim of mismanagement for decades, long before the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church took ownership. Unfortunately because it is now under church ownership, it is no longer subject to state regulation.

This post is useful because it relates perhaps some answers to questions associated with this particular cemetery: Bellview Cemetery itself seems to be split in half (this is not including the "Quiet Haven Memorial Park" section visible from Elder Creek road), and another known old name for it was Arlington Cemetery. (There are Arlingtons buried in the cemetery- whether this is the reason it was called this, similar to how it became known as "Bellview" because of the Bell family, I have yet to uncover.) There is a lawn portion of the cemetery containing the majority of historic graves (some more modern graves include children's graves from the late 60s and early 70s, and a row of very new ostentatious Russian/Slavic graves) and an entire section that seemed an afterthought- a shadeless gravel pit of tree stumps and poorly cared for markers. (There is one marker that says "Urn Garden" on the side opposite the Sacramento County historic marker for Bellview Cemetery, though it is apparent there are depressions on the gravel side where it appears full bodies were interred.)


From: "Sue Silver"
Subject: Fw: [CASacramento] Re: Finding Belleview, (Bellview, Bellvue) Cemetery
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 09:07:16 -0700

I have been advised that the church that now owns Bellview Cemetery is a Slavic church, not a Russian Orthodox Church as I wrote in the message below.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sue Silver"
To: ;
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2004 7:40 AM
Subject: Re: [CASacramento] Re: Finding Belleview, (Bellview, Bellvue)

Bellview Cemetery was begun around the year 1862. The land on which it
was located and used by the public was donated by Jasper Bell. The cemetery
became owned by the Bellview Cemetery Association under the 1859 Act of the
legislature allowing the incorporation of Rural Cemetery Associations.

Sometime around 1950-1960, the Association purchased new ground to expand the cemetery BECAUSE THE OLD SECTION WAS FILLED to capacity. They called the new land Arlington Cemetery. Shortly after, the Association became defunct and the cemetery was sold for delinquent property taxes by the Sacramento County Tax Collector. (This even though the State Constitution exempts cemeteries from taxation if not used or held for profit.)

The cemetery was purchased at the tax sale by a new owner who operated it but did so unscrupulously. The State took the cemetery under conservatorship. Finally, the county again sold the cemetery for delinquent taxes and it was purchased, with approval by State by a Russian Orthodox Church. (Because the land is owned by a religious entity, it is no longer under state regulation.)

The Church changed the name of Arlington Cemetery to Quiet Haven. When it first took ownership, it began to use portions of Bellview Cemetery which, as previously stated, had already been filled to capacity by the 1950s-1960s. As far as I know they continue to use Bellview Cemetery today. It is not known how many unmarked and unknown graves exist in Bellview and it is my opinion that there is overburying occurring with new burials.

At one point after the Church took ownership, some families found that markers had been removed from the graves of their loved ones. The Church maintained it had moved them in order to perform maintenance and tree removal. How many markers were actually affected is unknown.

For more information about the present status of Bellview Cemetery, Arlington Cemetery or Quiet Haven Cemetery, contact Dr. Bob LaPerriere with the Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission (SCCAC). Email address: chca@winfirst.com.

Sue Silver, State Coordinator
California Saving Graves


Outright, there are some curious aspects about this cemetery.

1) Quiet Haven Memorial Park is comprised of two sections joined together by a road. Bellview Cemetery itself seems to be divided in half, with a lawn section of mostly historical graves and a gravel section of markers from the 1960s and early 1970s. The gravel section in particular seems to be in exceptionally bad condition- full of holes, mounds of dirt and weeds hiding grave markers, ugly tree stumps (why were all the trees cut down, and when?) and some markers appear to have been moved like tiles as there is nothing anchoring them down. There also to be two graves here that may have been exhumed and re-interred as one is lined in slowly decomposing plastic and the other is surrounded by a short green flimsy plastic border.

2. Bethany Slavic Missionary Church acquired this land only in the late 1990's, before which it was apparently already mismanaged and subject to vandalism. It has been in use as a burial site since at least 1856. It is clear that it must have had been under different jurisdictions/owners over the century and a half of use.

3. Older references to this cemetery also note that it was called Arlington Cemetery.

4. All the recent Slavic burials are ornately decorated with silk and plastic flowers. The older graves (comprising the majority of the "population) are unadorned, and more often than not, in desperate condition. There are headstones laying along the fence (obviously not on graves) and markers that are covered in mounds of dirt and weeds (thus unreadable). Why the striking disparity? If this land is indeed owned by a church, why is it not their "Christian" duty to show the same respect for all interred here for eternity?

5. There are a lot of broken markers. This could be due to age, vandalism, "graveyard malpractice", or a combination.

6. There are a lot of markers with a "do it yourself" look to them. Were people buried here because they had limited means and this cemetery outside of the city limits offered cheaper burial services than most of the nicer cemeteries in Sacramento, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, and other nearby communities?

7. The monument left by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors notes that 800 people were laid to rest in Bellview Cemetery between 1961 and 1973. In the entire cemetery, including the historical markers, there are maybe 200 markers at most, and that's being generous. Where are the missing 600+?