Monday, February 13, 2012

The Savannah Receives Preliminary Approval

Randy Wiggins, 69, sitting under 100-year-old Camphor tree, where 30 of his relatives are buried at Savannah Memorial Park Thursday, February 9, 2012. Savannah Memorial Park, which contains the graves of many of Southern California's first pioneers, was recently named on California's Register of Historic Landmarks. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Walt Mancini)    
The Savannah Memorial Park has received preliminary approval from the state commission for Historic Landmark Status, the next step is to await approval from the commissioner of the State Department of  Parks and Recreation.

The full story which ran in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune can be read at this link San Gabriel Valley's Rich History

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interesting Cemetery History

Kate Mayfield has a blog entitled HERE AND HEREAFTER where she shares her experience growing up as a funeral director's daughter. I am drawn to her writings as my own grandfather was a funeral director as well. Her recent blog post "Stiffs is Very Scarce"  provides an interesting look back at some cemetery history.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day - Flag Burning Ceremony

On Tuesday, November 8, 2011 about twenty people participated in the Veterans Day Flag Burning Ceremony that was held at Savannah Memorial Park. Each year volunteers place flags on the graves of the cemetery's veterans, this year the tattered and worn flags were retired following the flag burning retirement protocol.

Photo credit: Jim Morten Photography

Photo credit: Jim Morten Photography
Photo credit: Jim Morten Photography

Photo credit: Jim Morten Photography

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is He or Isn't She?

Without question William L. (Billie) Dodson is one of Savannah’s most flamboyant residents. If he were around today he would rival even Dame Edna.

He is pictured here with his alter ego, showing that maintaining a sense of humor is always a good thing. He was known as the Man-Milliner of El Monte and his chapeaus were sought after by the most fashionable ladies of Pasadena.

But hats were not his only trick, for years he worked in vaudeville as a female impersonator, wearing many of the gorgeous gowns that he had designed and sewed himself. 

He was the son of one of the old Southern families that made their way to California as early pioneers. As a young boy most of his time was spent at the side of his ailing mother who was an invalid. Even after her death he stayed with his father helping to raise the younger children and keep the house.

On December 22, 1905 he married Miss Anna Manion, an actress, who had arrived that very same morning from Seattle. The bride was described as a charming girl who ‘wore a gray cloth suit and carried pink roses’. The marriage was short-lived; seemingly Miss Manion had grown weary of the quiet El Monte life.  In 1907 Mr. Dodson sought and was given a divorce from his actress wife.

On New Year’s Day in 1910 William L. Dodson  married for a second time to Jessie Vernon Dunham.

The Los Angeles Times ran this obituary on August 20, 1914:
 William L. Dodson, a milliner, 40 years of age, died Tuesday evening at the family residence, No. 685 East Forty-First Street. He was a native son, born and reared in El Monte. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Dodson, were pioneers of Los Angeles County. Mr. Dodson formerly was an impersonator of female characters, closing a two-year engagement on the Pantages circuit last October in Los Angeles. He was a prominent Mason and he and Mrs. Dodson were members of the Eastern Star, No. 168. Funeral services will be held at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon at the Presbyterian Church in El Monte. Burial will be in the El Monte Cemetery. 

Sources from various Los Angeles Times articles dated:  December 24, 1905, January 13, 1907 and July 24, 1907

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Miss Lucretia Baisley of Los Angeles

“Miss Lucretia Baisley of Los Angeles, one of the handsomest and most popular of the female attachés of the Senate…”

This is how the Los Angeles Times began its article on the news of the illness Miss Lucretia Baisley. She was just twenty-two years of age when she died, however short her life may have been she left an enormous impact of the people she worked with and met.

Sacramento, Feb. 25. – [Exclusive Dispatch.]  Miss Lucretia Baisley of Los Angeles, one of the handsomest and most popular of the female attachés of the Senate, is said to be dying tonight at the Wentworth Igo Hospital as a result of an operation for appendicitis, performed several days ago.  Her condition has cast a gloom over the entire Los Angeles delegation, and although the unfortunate young woman is receiving every possible attention, the attending physicians stated tonight that the end would probably come before morning.
                Miss Baisley, for several years, has been stenographer in the office of O. Z. Hubbell in Los Angeles, and by him she is regarded as one of the best in that branch of work whom he ever knew.  Coupled with her ability, was a gentleness of character, and a kindliness of nature which endeared her to all who knew her.  She came here at the request of Senator Hubbell, and by him was made a stenographer of the Senate.  Among the members and the other attachés she soon made a host of friends.
                Less than a week ago she became ill, and the doctors pronounced her illness a case of appendicitis.  An operation was decided upon, and for a time it was thought to have been successful, but peritonitis set in, and her present condition is the result.
                Her mother, who lives on a ranch near San Gabriel, was telegraphed for, but will not arrive until tomorrow morning. Source: Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1903

Sacramento, Feb. 26. – [Exclusive Dispatch.]  The death this morning of Miss Lucretia Baisley of Los Angeles, stenographer in the Senate, cast a gloom over that body today as nothing has done this session, and as few things could do.  To the members of the Senate and those who have had business there throughout the session, the news of her death came as a personal loss.  The announcement of it was made soon after the opening of the session this morning by Senator Curtin, who presented a resolution in which the fact of her death was announced, and which provides that the expenses of the funeral should be paid out of the contingent fund of the Senate, and that the sergeant-at-arms should send a deputy to accompany the body to San Gabriel.
                Speaking of this resolution, Senator Curtin delivered a eulogy of the deceased, which moved even members of the Senate to tears.  Such a sight has not been witnessed in that house for a long time.  It was with difficulty that Secretary Brandon called the roll which resulted in a unanimous adoption of the resolution.  Then a motion was carried that, when the Senate adjourned, it would be out of respect for the memory of Miss Baisley, and that the night session, which had been arranged to discuss the Capitol removal, be abandoned.
                Perhaps the saddest incident of the day was the arrival of the mother of the deceased.  She reached Sacramento at 10:20 o’clock this morning, knowing nothing of the death of her daughter.  She was met at the depot by a number of friends of Miss Baisley, and was told that the end had come.  She was almost prostrated from grief.
                Tonight in the undertaking parlors of Clark & Booth, the funeral services were held.  The little chapel was crowded with members of the Senate and friends of the deceased.  The simple-beautiful service for the dead was by Rev. C. L. Miel, chaplain of the Senate.  The floral tributes were so numerous that there was not room for all of them in the chapel.  The body will be sent south tomorrow, and will be taken to San Gabriel for burial. (Source:  Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1903)
 Thanks also to Savannah Memorial Park researcher, Heather Hooper for her input for this article.