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  1. #1
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    1400+ coffins from 19th c. paupers' graveyard discovered beneath medical center lot

    Nearly 1,500 coffins from 19th century paupers' graveyard unearthed by construction workers underneath Californian hospital
    A pauper's graveyard containing around 1,445 pine coffins has been unearthed in San Jose, California.

    The makeshift cemetery was discovered accidentally in February by construction crews working to expand the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
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    'It’s a potter’s field or a pauper’s graveyard. Between 1875 and 1935 at Valley Medical Center, people who died indigent, whose families couldn’t be found were buried at this site,' county counsel Michael Rossi said.
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    Mr Rossi said the county was keen to hire an archaeologist who specialises in potter's fields and if anything identifiable was found they would attempt to contact relatives of the dead so they could claim the remains.

    After that, Santa Clara County will ask the court's permission to dispose of the bodies according to the law. This generally means cremation.
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    A map of the county dated 1935 shows the cemetery but by 1958 there was no longer any hint of its existence and by 1966 an employee parking lot had been built on top of the cemetery.
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    more, with pictures, at DM link above

  2. #2
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    A 1935 map showed the cemetery, but it disappeared by 1958? Could it be the disappearance was because a parking lot was built?

    How can the families be found
    1. assuming the last burial was in 1935?
    2. the families couldn't be found when the burials took place?

    Would these people want to be cremated? Probably not, since cremation was hardly a consideration when the burials took place. Such a sad thing to happen to these paupers - all in the name of progress.

  3. #3
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    LadyL is offline Sleuthing for Lonzie Barton & All Victims.
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    so sad ...

  4. #4
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    It's funny that this came out today. Yesterday I posted one where Walmart wanted to put a parking lot over suspected unmarked slave graves.
    Slave Graves, Somewhere, Complicate a Walmart’s Path - Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community

    It might be interesting to see how these two are handled in the media and how they end up being resolved.
    Last edited by KateB; 06-08-2015 at 01:15 AM. Reason: repair url tag.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  5. #5
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    Oh great. One of my kids was born at that hospital. maybe that's what's wrong with him.

  6. #6
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    Necropolis




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  7. #7
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    Unless you're famous, there's no assurance your grave will not be disturbed. Despite the paupers interned in this graveyard who may not have wanted to be cremated, which it seems will be done, maybe it's a good 2012 decision to be cremated.

  8. #8
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    Interesting it just vanished off the maps. I wonder what the locals had to say about it in between the years of 35 and 55?

    I bet there was gossip and not to mention property records. 1400 graves is a pretty decent size. Someone HAD to know what they were putting a parking lot on. JMO.

  9. #9
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    I'm still trying to figure out what happened in 1958 that the 1935 graveyard wasn't recorded on the maps ... and what happened in 1966 when the parking lot was paved over the graveyard. Surely someone remembered hearing about the graveyard's location before it was paved.

  10. #10
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    NOT okay with me! As a native Californian, I personally know many descendants of the folks that settled the Peninsula over there, all the way down to San Jose. This was early statehood and the people at rest there were integral to the society built on top of them!

    It makes me sick that we don't endeavor to remember the laborers, the farmers, the industrial efforts of the people who broke their backs providing the structures this State grew up on... it was the second incorporated city in this state, and the first Capital. The paupers at rest there are every bit as historic as those in the Gold Rush Cemeteries in the Mother Load.

    There are probably a great number of indigenous peoples laid there, too (not coincidentally, the era mentioned, 1875-1935, is the era of the final death knell of many, many, of California's Ohlone peoples). The other impoverished group that is probably there beneath the asphalt, are the Dust Bowl refugees written about by Steinbeck... Oh yes, those folks meant something and they still do.

    Not to mention the parties of settlers Kit Carson led into the area in the 1840's, the 150 years of Mission life that bustled before that... and 6,000 years of native habitation! Oh, and the Chinese and Japanese who farmed and labored for us! Sheesh, we act like we discover everything, brand new, and it makes me sick and mad.

    A parking lot?! Really. I have an idea-- park somewhere else and take a shuttle, it's a graveyard.



    eta: a comment below the article mention the movie Poltergeist-- that occurred to me, also. Spielberg knew what he was talking about-- back then, and now.
    Last edited by Quiche; 05-20-2012 at 12:42 PM.


  11. #11
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    I think the cemetery conveniently was left off later maps when it became apparent that the medical complex would grow its campus and require additional space.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    I think the cemetery conveniently was left off later maps when it became apparent that the medical complex would grow its campus and require additional space.
    Yep, totally taking advantage of the fact that the region was populated with folks whose families, on the large part, weren't with them there. People from all corners of the earth ventured into California during that time period. It just makes me sad.

    Looking at the current photos, I'd say it could really use a greenbelt-- if I had a say, it would turn into a place to eat your lunch and enjoy the Paradise it used to be instead of a lot to leave your car in. (that area must have been a freakin' Eden, back when...)



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