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145  Just Another Trip
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150  El Campo Santo Cemetery
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EL CAMPO SANTO CEMETERY

 

My interest in genealogy results in a side interest in cemeteries.  Walking around Old Town, San Diego, California, I was intrigued by the picturesque El Campo Santo Cemetery.  More research revealed historic details I found to be interesting enough to share with you.

 

El Campo Santo Cemetery sign   El Campo Santo Cross
 
 
 

These and the following pictures are random views of areas of El Campo Santo Cemetery.

 
      Stone Memorial   White Cross Memorial
 
 
Fence memorials
 
 
Fence memorials
 
 
Fence memorials
 
 
Fence memorials
 
 
Fence memorials
 

Note the gate at top, left of this photo.  You can use the gate to find your bearings on a plaque to be seen below.

 
 
Fence memorials
 
 
     Plaque with map
 
The map at the bottom of this plaque shows the location of a number of grave sites covered by wall, sidewalk, curb and roadway.  The gate in the wall is pictured from inside the site earlier.  Examples of the actual grave site markers follow.
 
 
     Sidewalk gravesite   Curb gravesite
 

Ground penetrating radar found grave sites beneath sidewalks and curbs.

 
 
      Parking & roadway gravesite     Wall gravesite
 

Ground penetrating radar found grave sites beneath parking and roadways and even walls.

 
 

At first look, El Campo Santo is a seemingly peaceful burial ground where many of San Diego’s deceased were laid to rest for all eternity.  The cemetery, located in the Old Town San Diego Historic Park, was built in 1849 and was actively used until 1880.

Founded as a Catholic cemetery, today only 477 of the original graves are still visible.  It is said that the burial ground is only a fraction of what it used to be.  During the falling of the Old Town period, the cemetery was abandoned and its brick chapel was destroyed by fire.

All seemed to be well at El Campo Santo until the city began to grow and the needs of the living seemed to supersede the respect for the dead.  So when the people in San Diego saw a need for more roads, several graves were removed and relocated.  Just two years after the last body was buried here, a horse-drawn streetcar line was constructed that ran right through the cemetery, and later, this same streetcar line became a modern road.  Many graves were just paved over – leaving the souls of the dead trapped under the road

After repeated petitions to acknowledge the bodies that were buried beneath the street and sidewalk, white crosses were placed to mark burials.

Walter P. Temple successfully filed a lawsuit preventing any further desecration of the cemetery. In 1917, he was able to purchase the cemetery and the surrounding 75 acres and began restoration.

In 1993, ground-penetrating radar was used to locate burials covered by infrastructure.  Brass grave site markers were placed to permanently mark the desecrated graves.

Above are the facts.  Below are reports.

Residents and business owners in the surrounding areas of the cemetery have reported witnessing disturbing poltergeist events: Inexplicable electrical outages, lights going on and off and appliances and alarm systems going off for no reason at all.  Could it be the spirits of those whose bodies were so grossly disrespected crying out?  Many seem to think so.

Visitors to the area have also been spooked by their car alarms going off or being unable to start their vehicle when they parked in front of the graveyard – another sign that the souls of the dead were not happy.

Witnesses have recounted seeing other apparitions as well – some dressed in period costume, others that seem to glide above the graves, then disappear as they are approached. Freezing cold spots and floating orbs, flashes of light and shadowy figures have also been reported.

 
 
 
 
AFTERWORD
 
 
Decorated child's grave   Dedication plaque
 

El Campo Santo Cemetery has not been totally abandoned.  Contemporary attention was paid by the Daughters of American Colonists in 1991 (right).  Perhaps family or just friends of children decorated a child’s grave even more recently (left).

 
 

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