MILE HOUSE CEMETERY
Est. ca. 1857
Also known as:
Camino Cemetery, Hartwick Cemetery, Hamilton Cemetery,
Crystal Springs Cemetery
Assessor's Parcel No. 043-330-06-100
Around the year 1857, the State authorized the creation of the State Wagon Road that would traverse the Sierra Nevada mountains between Placerville, El Dorado County and the town of Genoa in Nevada. Public roadhouses and inns emerged along the route of this new road. Among them was the Nine Mile House and tavern stand.
A typical roadhouse complex normally included the roadhouse (a hotel located on the main road), a stable, barn, blacksmith shop, and other small trade businesses that would act to serve the traveling public. They were, in actuality, small villages with different proprietors operating the businesses established there.
By 1887, the Federal land patent to 160 acres of land on which the Nine Mile House Cemetery was located, was issued to Thomas Hartwick. However, Hartwick never owned the cemetery which continued to be used by the public at large. State law had already precluded private ownership of the cemetery.
(More to come....)
|PUBLIC TITLE - the
public has the legal title to this cemetery
As the community at the Nine Mile House
and it's vicinity continued to use the Nine Mile House Cemetery to bury their friends and loved ones, the State provided that
the title to these places would vest in the public since their use was
by the public at large.
In 1872, the State enacted the Political Code of the California Statutes. [See former Political Code Sec. 3105 (Stats. 1872).**] The State also provided that a civil entity would become the authority for the jurisdiction and control of these cemeteries. In the unincorporated territory of a county in which a cemetery is located, that authority is the board of supervisors. [Former Political Code section 3109 (Stats. 1872).]
In 1996, the El Dorado County Pioneer Cemeteries Commission (EDCPCC) alleged to the County of El Dorado that the public had acquired a legal title to the Nine Mile House Cemetery. We also filed a complaint with the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau of the Department of Consumer Affairs since El Dorado County maintains this is a privately-owned cemetery and it is privately operated without compliance with the Health and Safety Code specific to private cemeteries.
The state refused to intervene stating that since the cemetery was not licensed the state had no jurisdiction to regulate it. Oddly enough, if this were an automotive repair shop operating without a license from the state, the Bureau of Automotive Repairs of the Department of Consumer Affairs would shut it down, fine the operator, and require the shop to become licensed.
In August of 1996, a County Counsel Opinion was received by the General Services director that concluded a court would probably rule this is a public cemetery through operation of law, and that the public's title occurred prior to 1939. [See County Counsel Opinion Page 1 and Page 11.) The county has refused to pursue to the interest of the public, and the cemetery has remained in private operation ever since.
Despite the mandate of the 1872 law, El Dorado County finds it easier to ignore the effect of this law. Despite the Attorney General Opinion as to the effect of the law, the county continues to ignore the public's legal title. The county refuses to acknowledge the public's legal interest and in doing so has defaulted in it's duty to the public.
EDCPCC continues to allege that the public acquired a legal title to this cemetery through operation of law. We allege there was an implied in law dedication of the cemetery to it's use as a public cemetery prior to 1939. We now allege that no private deed to this cemetery after at least 1939 has any affect on the legal title acquired by the public.***
This cemetery is now being operated unlawfully. The party operating the cemetery is not licensed by the state to operate the cemetery, has not followed state law relative to private cemeteries, and has no idea of how many actual burials have occurred in the cemetery since it first began to be used.
Furthermore, the present "operator" has been deriving income from sales of grave plots sold on land owned by the public. Such instances of plot sales acts to deprive the public of funds necessary to provide for the care and maintenance of the cemetery. Perhaps more alarmingly, people who purchase these plots from the operator are unaware that their graves may one day be at risk. It is not uncommon for cemetery operators to just walk away from cemeteries after they have been filled (or overfilled) to capacity.
When there comes a time there is a hue and cry from the families that will ultimately be affected by this condition, will the county then take control of the cemetery? We think not....
** For more about the matter of public title to California's historic cemeteries, the California Attorney General issued Attorney General Opinion No. 98-503, answering a number of questions related to Gold Rush pioneer cemeteries.
*** In a recent (Nov. 2002) letter of opinion issued by the Attorney General to State Senator Tom Torlakson regarding the Pacheco Cemetery in Contra Costa County and based on facts similar to those relevant to this cemetery, the Attorney General's staff concluded that:
1) The public acquired legal title to Pacheco Cemetery prior to 1900 since the cemetery was originally owned by the heirs of William Welch and used continuously and without interruption as a burial ground for five years after 1872. (81 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen., supra, at pp. 299-301.) [Link to full document: 98-503.htm];
2) There was an implied in law dedication of the cemetery to it's use as as a public cemetery prior to 1900. [Citation omitted];
3) Deeds to the cemetery after 1900 did not affect the public title to the cemetery acquired through operation of former Political Code section 3105. [Citation omitted.];
4) The county board of supervisors would have the legal authority for the cemetery's management and control. [Citation omitted.], and,
5) Land added to the cemetery grounds after 1900 would not affect the public title to the remainder of the cemetery acquired prior to 1900. [Citation omitted.]
[Source: Letter dated November 18, 2002, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, by Rodney O. Lilyquist, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Chief, Opinion Unit, to Senator Tom Torlakson. Copy courtesy of California Saving Graves.]
|EL DORADO COUNTY
TWICE REFUSED TO ACCEPT A DEED TO THIS CEMETERY. . .
1965, Thomas Hartwick's son Rev. Charles Hartwick, went to Dr. Harold
Mozar, the health officer of El Dorado County. He asked Dr. Mozar
to help him transfer the cemetery to the county's ownership. In
response, Dr. Mozar sought authorization from the board of supervisors
to survey the cemetery in preparation to receive the cemetery into
county ownership. (At the time this occurred, no previous private
deed had ever been transacted for the cemetery and no legal description
of the cemetery parcel existed.)
The board of supervisors authorized the survey and directed the county surveyor to perform the survey. We have been unable to locate a copy of that survey and cannot confirm that the survey actually took place.
It is certain, though, that the county did not accept a deed to the cemetery in that year for Rev. Hartwick again approached the county about the cemetery in 1975, at a time when the Public Works Department was performing a county-wide survey of the cemeteries in the county. That year, Rev. Hartwick wrote that he was advancing in years and wished the county to take ownership of the cemetery. The county instead suggested Rev. Hartwick see if a local church group would accept the cemetery!
We find it most interesting that the County of El Dorado did not even attempt to determine if the cemetery was owned by the public or if Rev. Hartwick had any legal interest in the cemetery in order to offer it to the county.
Had the county reviewed the law, it may have seen that the public held the legal title to the cemetery. Perhaps if they had done this, the present situation would not now exist.