Endangered Cemetery Report
PLANTERS HOUSE CEMETERY
(aka Margona [sic=Marogna]-Hall Cemetery)
Shingle Springs, El Dorado County, California
No formal Endangered Cemetery Report has been filed for this cemetery. An application is being processed for approval by the El Dorado County Planning Department which would allow for the construction of a garage near the cemetery.
The project applicant's property line is shown to take in the Slocum family plot that is part of the Planters House Cemetery and was part of a deed exception that included an easement access to the cemetery. The project application should not be accepted in that it does not accurately depict the applicant's property line in relation to the cemetery.
This small cemetery is associated with the early (1851) roadhouse known as the Missouri House. When the Missouri House burned down in 1852, it was replaced by owner R.L. Wakefield with a larger roadside hotel he called the Planters House. Wakefield died in 1861 and was buried on a hill overlooking his hotel. It was purchased by Daniel Tompkins Hall from Wakefield's estate in 1863 and remained in Hall's ownership until his death in 1893. Hall's widow held the Planters House property until the 1930s.
Daniel T. Hall was the first postmaster of Shingle Springs in 1853. It was upon the lands of owned by him as part of the Planters House property that created the parcels later platted as the Townsite of Shingle Springs.
The cemetery is located in Supervisorial District 4. Charlie Paine is the current supervisor of the district. If you would like to send your comments to Supervisor Paine, his email address is email@example.com. Ask Supervisor Paine to help promote the protection and preservation of this cemetery and access to it as well. [See text of sample letter below.]
Sue Silver, State
September 1, 2004
SAMPLE EMAIL OR LETTER TEXT [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Planters House Cemetery, Shingle Springs (DR04-0010-Williams)
Honorable Charlie Paine
District 4 Supervisor
El Dorado County
330 Fair Lane
Placerville, CA 95667
Dear Supervisor Paine:
I have learned that there have been problems in the past with construction near this historic cemetery in your county and that a new application for construction near the cemetery has been submitted. I believe that historic cemeteries should be respected and protected as historical and cultural resources of our state's past.
Please protect the cemetery and access to it so that future Californians may pay their respects to the California pioneers buried there. In addition, I understand that a Native American sacred site may also be present within or near the project zone and would ask that you ensure this site is protected as well.
Please help ensure that the present project application is processed in a manner that helps to ensure the preservation and protection of this early cemetery.
[Your name, address and email address.]
Brief History of Shingle Springs
The town of Shingle Springs was located on the Placerville and Sacramento Road
not long after the discovery of gold at Coloma. This route later became
the main immigrant road between the Carson Valley and the Sacramento
Valley. It was established between the village of Buckeye Flat to the east
and the Duroc Ranch, about three miles to its west.
The earliest mentions of this vicinity occurred in the period of 1849, when the Thomas Orr family arrived in California from Utah looking for a place to settle in the gold fields. The family later recounted that on traveling toward Sacramento they past by the springs near the Shingle Machine where a man had established a thriving little business of splitting shingles. Not far beyond that point, they arrived at the Deer Creek House on Deer Creek at the present location of Cameron Park. There they encountered a man Thomas Orr, Sr. had known in Salt Lake City. He asked Mr. Orr not to call him by his real name, but to call him by the name of Brown. That man was Orrin Porter Rockwell, well known in Mormon Church history as a Danite and one of the Destroying Angels for President Brigham Young. Brown (Rockwell) suggested to the Orr's that they settle in the area and sent them back up the road they'd just traveled to a flat just east of the Deer Creek House.
By 1851, the El Dorado County Tax Assessor was assessing businesses and properties at "Shingle Machine." Among those properties were the Shingle Springs House located on the south side of the Placerville Road and the Missouri House that was located on the north side of the Placerville Road.
Until about 1853, the location of Shingle Springs was known as Shingle Machine. It is referenced as that in the minutes of the county supervisors and in tax assessment records. Because there were springs there also, it is likely that when the post office was established there the name was changed to Shingle Springs.
The village of Shingle Springs for many years was no more than just a few farms and ranches along the Placerville Road. When the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad was extended east from the town of Folsom in Sacramento County in 1865, Shingle Springs became its eastern terminus for approximately 20 years before the tracks were finally laid to the City of Placerville. This event caused the small village to grow. Daniel T. Hall sold parcels of his ranch to newcomers and these lands were ultimately included in the townsite patents that was issued for the Townsite of Shingle Springs.
Prior to the coming of the white settlers, though, this was an important Native American encampment. Many local native families who survived the diseases and other hostilities thrust upon them by the new settlers, remained in the area.
This cemetery was established in association with the Planters House, a roadhouse of the early 1850s on the Sacramento to Placerville Road. The cemetery is not situated on the property that once belonged to the Planters House, but is on a small hill that was located north and behind the hotel.
The earliest marked grave in the cemetery is that of Arrietta (nee Jones) Hall, the wife of Daniel T. Hall, who died in 1854. The last documented interment in this cemetery was that of Samuel Welcome Spong in November of 1921.
In all likelihood, this cemetery was the cemetery of the town of Shingle Springs prior to the arrival of the railroad in 1865. It appears that after that time, what is now known as the Shingle Springs Cemetery on the south side of Mother Lode Drive, began to be used, although both cemeteries did receive interments thereafter.
By the time the U.S. Government began to issue the federal land patents for land in California, the Planters House Cemetery had long been established. The larger tract of land eventually became owned by the Milton Slocum family. It was descendant George M. Slocum who upon selling the ranch in the late 1920s provided that the cemetery would be reserved, saved and excepted from the sale. At the same time, the Slocum's reserved a right of ingress and egress to and from the cemetery from the "State Highway," then the old route of U.S. Highway 50.
Despite the Slocum family's claim to the cemetery, title to it cemetery vested in the public through operation of law. It's use from at least 1873 to 1921, sufficiently satisfies the prescriptive use requirement of the law. Even if this were not so, the deed exception made by the Slocum family of whom there are no direct descendants, has left this cemetery land without any "heir or next of kin" to claim ownership. According to Government Code section 182, therefore, the title to this cemetery has reverted to the public. In addition, no property taxes have been assessed on the cemetery parcel and none have been paid for many, many years.
In an odd set of circumstances, it does appear that this cemetery was established on a hill that had been used as a Native American crematory or cry site. However, it's placement in the same location as the Native American burial ground, cannot affect the vested public title, since the law did not discriminate or differentiate by ethnicity. Seemingly, it also did not require full body burials to occur. It would seem, then, that the ground had been used by the Native Americans as a burial place and, thereafter, was used by the inhabitants of Shingle Springs.
This is a county public cemetery that now has a concrete block retaining wall built nearly on top of the Slocum family plot, and a hillside that has been fully graded out to allow for the construction of a combination residence and antique store in 1981. No archaeological study was done to determine the presence of graves below those obviously marked plots that remain, and it is believed that graves were removed during the construction process. It is obvious that the Native American site was also disturbed by this combined residential/commercial construction.
Attempts in the past by members of the El Dorado County Pioneer Cemeteries Commission to ask the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to take control for the protection of cemeteries such as this one, have not been successful. The County does not want to acknowledge that these places are public cemeteries and refuses to follow the law. The County's refusal to accept the state's mandate is a primary cause for the loss and degradation of so many of the historic cemeteries in El Dorado County.
Response of the El Dorado County Pioneer Cemeteries Commission to the present project application DR04-0010-Thomas and Mary Williams:
September 1, 2004
Jason Hade, Project Planner
El Dorado County Planning Department
2850 Fairlane Court
Placerville, CA 95667
Re: DR 04-0010 - Thomas and Mary Williams (Larry Garrett)
Dear Mr. Hade:
We have reviewed the above mentioned project application and make the following comments.
This cemetery is the last extant feature associated with an 1851 public roadhouse known as the Missouri House. After the Missouri burned down in 1852, the Planters House roadhouse was built on the same location immediately afterward. County tax records reflect the existence of the Planters House as early as 1853. Because of the history of this location, this cemetery is one of the many gold rush-era cemeteries in El Dorado County that contributes to the county’s dwindling inventory of cultural and historical resources.
Buried in the cemetery almost certainly was R.L. Wakefield, who founded the Missouri House and later rebuilt it as the Planters House. His grave was marked at one time by a fence or paling, but is no longer. [Source: Probate File, EDC Museum]. In the Hall family plot is Daniel Tompkins Hall, who was paid by Wakefield’s estate for the coffin provided for his burial. Hall purchased the Planters House from Wakefield’s estate in 1863, and continued to own and operate this roadhouse until his death in 1895. The property remained in his family until well into the 20th century.
Daniel Tompkins Hall was the first postmaster of the town of Shingle Springs, having been appointed to that position in 1853. Much of the land that was laid out for the Townsite of Shingle Springs was acquired by local citizens from D.T. Hall. We would, therefore, consider him to the “Father of Shingle Springs,” especially at the time the Placerville and Sacramento Railroad was pushed through to that place in 1865 from Folsom and it became the terminus of the line. It is likely that Hall was one of the premiere promoters of this extension of the railroad in that he certainly had much to gain from such a move.
Others buried in the cemetery include the granddaughter of Samuel Kyburz. Mr. Kyburz was at Sutter’s Fort and has been said to have shown James W. Marshall the way to Coloma where gold was ultimately discovered. A granddaughter of James Skinner, of the well-known Skinner ranch and winery in Green Valley (now in Cameron Park), is buried in the Slocum family plot.
In addition, there are many deaths that occurred at or near Shingle Springs from its earliest time to the turn of the century, for which there is no burial location known. Our research has identified 19 named persons who may have been buried somewhere on the hill in the Planters House Cemetery, the location of the graves being presently unknown. (They may also have been buried in the later Shingle Springs Cemetery, east and across the road from the Planters House Cemetery.)
Finally, Shingle Springs, which was first known as Shingle Machine, is said to have been the location of the first sawmill in El Dorado County. An unnamed party is known to have been busy splitting shingles there in 1849 when the Thomas Orr family arrived to settle in this county, and camped near present day Coach Lane in Cameron Park.
In light of the historical and cultural value of this cemetery to the county and other factors, we comment further as follows:
1. The project plan map showing the antique store and TWO burial plots is factually INACCURATE in that it segregates property that is part of a deed exception that included all the burials in the cemetery known as the PLANTERS HOUSE CEMETERY, also known as the Margona (sic=Marogna)-Hall Cemetery. In the deed between George M. Slocum and Carrie R. Slocum to John R. Connelly and Ora E. Marogna (wife of Charles Marogna), dated December 21, 1929, the Slocum’s clearly stated their intentions as to the cemetery their family was buried in. The terms of that deed, as written and recorded, included the following:
“Reserving and saving and excepting the family cemetery situated in the Northwest one-quarter of Northeast one-quarter of Southeast one-quarter of said Section one, being a plot approximately 40 feet square and now enclosed with a fence, together with the right of ingress and egress from the State Highway to said burial plot.”
The project plan map shows the SLOCUM family plot as being contained within the Williams’ property and we challenge this notion in that the family’s intention was clear to withhold ALL the graves in the cemetery AS THEN FENCED. We emphasize this last comment because the iron fence enclosed plot of the Daniel Tompkins Hall family is NOT the Slocum family plot. We believe another fence, perhaps field fencing or barbed wire, existed at one time within which all the graves and burials were contained. The Slocum family plot is the plot the Williams map shows within their parcel and this simply is not accurate or factual.
The deeded easement from the State Highway was the old alignment of Highway 50 before new Highway 50 was constructed and is now that portion of Sunset Lane which runs past the antique store parcel. The Williams project map fails to show any route over which this easement may reasonably be exercised from Sunset Lane (the old State Highway).
2. The public has acquired legal title to the cemetery property reserved and saved and excepted in the 1929 instrument through operation of Government Code section 182, in that no property taxes have been assessed or paid on the Slocum parcel for many, many years. Government Code section 182 provides that where title has failed for lack of legal heirs or next of kin, the title reverts to the public. By attempting to “claim” the burial plot shown in the project plan map, the Williams’ are attempting to absorb this publicly-owned land, which is prohibited under Civil Code section 1007 regarding adverse possession. Public land cannot be claimed through adverse possession.
3. No archaeological work was done when the Williams first constructed on this property. This cemetery represents an 1851 roadhouse property on the original route of the Placerville and Sacramento Road. It is unknown how many unmarked graves exist somewhere on that small hillside or how many graves may have already been obliterated by the earlier construction. Simply the erection of a retaining wall right adjacent to the Slocum family plot had the potential to desecrate those graves under the concrete capping. We will never know for certain.
Any new archaeological review of the site should be held as suspect in that so much damage has already occurred. The site is also well known to have first been used by Native Americans as a crematory site and many human bones have been found strewn on the surface of the ground both on the CalTrans right-of-way of new Highway 50 and on the Williams parcel.
Because this cemetery was used by unknown persons from as early as 1851 or earlier, and continued to be used until after the turn of the 20th century, we believe the proposed retaining wall and footing for the proposed garage has the potential to adversely impact unmarked and unknown graves of non-Native American origin. Therefore, we would recommend that a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey be performed in all locations where earthwork of any kind is being proposed. Such a survey will identify if graves exist and will help to avoid desecrating or obliterating any such graves as may be found.
A number of issues must be resolved previous to any approval of this application. They are:
a. Submission of an amended project plan map showing the full cemetery, both the Hall and Slocum family plots, as were reserved, saved and excepted in the 1929 Slocum deed, to be wholly separate from the applicant’s parcel.
b. The amended project plan map must show the easement as reserved in the 1929 Slocum deed in a route reasonably accessed from Sunset Lane and such easement shall state “Deeded private easement and public access.”
c. A report from a geophysical consultant stating that no anomolies resembling graves were found anywhere within the project zone where earthwork will occur.d. A letter of specific approval issued by the board of supervisors or its appointed designee that the plan does not adversely effect this now-public cemetery, access to it, or any other appurtenances to it.
We understand that the Native American representatives from the Shingle Springs Rancheria, designated as Most Likely Descendants, have no further objection to construction on this site. I would remind the county, however, that the Native Americans of the Shingle Springs Rancheria were relocated to the rancheria from the Sacramento area. They are NOT the direct descendants of the Miwoks who occupied what became El Dorado County at the time of the white settlement of the region. We would ask that you notify the El Dorado Indian Council and the local representatives of the Miwok Tribe.
We believe each of the above noted requirements is pivotal to ensuring that no further desecration or grave obliteration occurs to either the Planters House Cemetery or the Native American sacred site, each of which is within or adjacent to the project zone.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (760) 723-3609 or Suzi Mickus at (530) 677-8525.
cc: Susan M. Mickus, EDC Pioneer Cemeteries Commission
Supervisor Charlie Paine
George Sanders, Director, General Services
Larry Myers, Executive Secretary, California Native American Heritage Commission