California

SAVING GRAVES

 

China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery
Folsom, Sacramento County, California

 

           The China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery was first established during the 1850s.  In 1907, the Folsom Development Company sought a land exchange with the trustees of the China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery in order to utilize the cemetery's original location for gold dredging.  The company paid for the removal and relocation of all the Chinese graves in the original cemetery to a new three acre parcel of land west of and adjacent to the first site.
          The last remaining Chinese family in the town of Folsom with ties to the Chinese of the 19th century was the family of Chan Oak, a Chinese merchant of Folsom.  Since the late 1800s, the Chan family watched over the cemetery with a sense of duty and obligation that spanned the two generations beyond Chan Oak himself.
          In the late 1960s, the cemetery was vandalized by local high school boys.  The boys were found at school with Chinese artifacts, including two human skulls which turned out to be those of Chan Oak and his wife.  As a result, the Chan family had their ancestor's disturbed remains reinterred and had a concrete "capping" poured over the graves.  The set a conventional grave marker within the concrete.
          In 1995, the China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery of Folsom became listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  With an approximated 1500 Chinese graves remaining in the cemetery, it represents a past Chinese burial practice that was initially intended to provide for the later removal of the Chinese remains for respectful shipment home to China for reburial with the deceased's family in a cemetery of their provincial homeland.  This Chinese cemetery of California illustrates that not all Chinese graves or graveyards were vacated as was intended.
          Today, the China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery Association, a non-profit public benefit corporation, continues to act as trustee for this cemetery. 

          The following photos show the March 2003 clean up day where the trustees received welcome assistance in the form of a Boy Scout Eagle project.

 



China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery
Folsom, Sacramento County, California
(March 2003, before clean up)

Chan Oak Plot
China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery
Folsom, Sacramento County, California
(March 2003, during clean up)



Chan Oak Grave Marker
China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery
Folsom, Sacramento County, California
(March 2003, during clean up)

China Mission-Chung Wah Chinese Cemetery
Folsom, Sacramento County, California
(March 2003, during clean up)


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