Has Anyone Been Buried On Your San Diego Property

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Has Anyone Been Buried On Your San Diego Property

Have you ever wondered if anyone has ever been buried on your San Diego property? Shockingly, the possibility (while remote) does exist. San Diego began recording death records in 1873. Statewide registration for deaths started in 1905 with general compliance by 1920. Records from Johnson-Saum & Knobel Mortuary 1869 – 1888 were essential in creating a pre- 1905 California Death Index for San Diego County.

The San Diego Union Wednesday Morning, November 24, 1947 -Remnants of Protestant Cemetery Found Old Town San Diego

These records have aided genealogists, researchers, and historians by providing a wealth of knowledge on early San Diegan deaths and burials. Some records indicate burials that occurred outside of traditional cemeteries on private property. Some of these burials are well known as in the case of Amos Buckman.

San Diego Interstate 8 Expansion Finds Amos Buckman’s Remains

Amos Buckman is one such example. Buckman was an Early California settler. He lived about 40 miles east of San Diego at a place they call Buckman Springs. He died in Buckman Springs and was buried on his property on March 28th, 1898. During the expansion of Interstate 8, his remains were accidentally dug up. He was reburied on the spot and the state of California supplied a new headstone. Sometimes, entire pioneer cemeteries are lost and then found. One such case was the old Protestant Cemetery in Old Town San Diego.

San Diego Old Town Road Work Finds Protestant Cemetery

Source- SAN DIEGO UNION: On Monday, November 24th, 1947 roadwork was being done in the general vicinity of Trias and Hancock Streets in Old Town San Diego. The workers were shocked and dismayed when they accidently unearthed a human skeleton.

The article goes on to say, “John Davidson, the curator for the Junipero Serra Museum at the time was called in to authenticate and identify the ancient remains. He explained that the land was once two separate cemeteries. One was for protestants and the other for casualties of the Battle of San Pasqual in 1846. Over time military remains were reinterred to the Bennington Military Cemetery at Point Loma (Fort Rosecrans Cemetery). Families with loved ones buried in the Protestant Cemetery began having the bodies reinterred elsewhere. Eventually, the graveyard was abandoned. Davidson went on to say “There are probably at least a dozen places in San Diego which are now home sites but which were once used for burial grounds.”

Over a period of time, the land served as a dog pound, a goat farm, and a trash dump before being rediscovered. Four remaining graves were identified as Tommie Whaley (infant son of Thomas Whaley), Jack Hinton, Frank Ames, and Francis Steele. A future land developer received permission to reinter the remains of the graves to Mount Hope Cemetery. Sometimes the reason for lost graves proves more nefarious in motive.

San Diego Man Hides Death Of Mother To Collect Benefits

The SDPD received information from the family of Emily Fox that she had died many years ago (10-15) and her son Rand Washburn had buried her in the backyard of their home at 5608 Tamres Drive. Through their investigation, the Detectives were able to confirm that there had been no contact with her in many years, further support of the report of her disappearance/ death. The Detectives then contacted Rand Washburn and he provided information that he and his mother resided in the home on Tamres Drive, after the death of her husband. Initially he declined to speak with them regarding the possibility that his mother was buried in the yard and directed them to his attorney. After discussion with Washburn’s attorney photographs were taken of the yard and Washburn indicated on the photographs where he had buried his mother. Further information obtained from him was that when she was alive she enjoyed sitting in the backyard under a specific tree and told her son that when she died she wanted him to put her under the tree. Approximately 10-15 years ago he had assisted his mother to the toilet. When he returned for her, he found that she had died. He removed her from the toilet and put her in bed atop her strawberry sheets. She remained in bed for approximately 2 weeks while Washburn dug into the backyard, under the tree. He then buried his mother, wrapped in the strawberry sheets under the tree, and in the years that followed he collected her social security benefits without reporting her death.

San Diego’ Medical Examiners report

Police Dig Up Woman’s Body In Man’s Backyard was the headline from cbs8.com Published: 1/21/2009 12:43:01 PM.

On a tip received by a family friend, San Diego police excavated the backyard of the property located at 5608 Tamres Drive. According to the family friend the property owner had gone missing and her body had been illegally buried by the son who also resided with his mother.

The story of Mrs. Washburn’s demise leaves one to wonder how many more shallow graves exist on San Diego properties. The last rites and wishes to be buried at home is certainly not limited to the late Mrs. Washburn.

Bonita -Bonnie Brae Ranch Property Owner Buried In Orchard

Hiram Murray “Bonnie Brae” Higgins A famous music and ballad writer from Chicago moved to San Diego in 1871. He brought with him a renowned horticulturist and set up shop in the Sweetwater Valley (Bonita, Ca). His home and land were called Bonnie Rae Ranch. The ranch became one of the finest citrus orchards on the west coast. Mr. Higgins originated the Bonnie Brae Lemon variety. He loved his ranch, and his antemortem request was to be buried in a little plot of ground in the deepest secluded part of his Lemon Orchard.

The Ranch was eventually demolished in 1961 for the Bonita Woods subdivision, Mr. Higgin’s remains are now under that subdivision. Current residents of that area are likely unaware of Mr. Higgin’s legacy and choice of final resting place. Sometimes the love felt by the living influences the dead as in the case of Benjamin Allen Burbeck of Spring Valley California.

Spring Valley -Keeping Your Loved Ones Close Even In Death

B.A. Burbeck worked in San Diego as a tradesman but resided at his family home in Spring Valley. His property, like many others in those days was surrounded by citrus orchards. His family eventually moved closer into El Cajon but retained their original Spring Valley property. He was well respected in life and at one time was the frontrunner Democratic candidate for a vacant county supervisor seat. In November of 1884 while feeling overworked, tired, and ill Mr. Burbeck returned to his Spring Valley homestead. His doctor arrived the next day and found Burbeck very ill and needing rest. Unfortunately, his condition got worse which lead to paralysis and death.

His deeply devoted and heartbroken wife had intentions to send the body back home to Massachusetts. However, the body was interred in the family’s Spring Valley orchard, and there the body laid for almost 4 years. In 1888, a removal permit was filed and accepted for the transfer of Mr. Burbeck’s remains. He was reinterred at plot 250 Willow Avenue in Pine Hill Cemetery of Massachusetts. Nearly every community has its share of urban legends. One such legend involves a “secret,” unreported Indian burial ground.

San Diego Ancient Indian Burial Grounds Urban Legend

The story goes that during land development, Indian remains and artifacts are discovered, not reported, and covered up.

Many ancient Native American burial sites have been lost to antiquity. There is no way to know for certain where such burial sites may have existed until they are found. What we can surmise is that native populations needed freshwater to survive so settlements would have been situated in relation to potable water.

There are many known Indian cemeteries across San Diego county. These cemeteries are rooted in the 1800s and mostly reflect burials on established Indian reservations. Those cemeteries include Capitan Grande, Viejas, St. Bartholemew Rincon, Pauma, Pala, La Jolla- Sycuan. Jamul, Campo, San Ysidro, La Posta, Inaja, and Barona Indian cemetery for the Kumeyaay tribe. Not all burials sites were planned sometimes the quickness of death dictates the burial spot as is the case for Borfeiro Valdes.

Fast Burials At San Diego Border With No Time To Mourn

Burial location Mexican Line Custom House and immigration

Not much is known about Borfeiro Valdes’s short life other than a mortuary reference for his birth and death that occurred on November 4th, 1879. The burial was listed at the “Mexican Line Custom House.” The building housed an immigration center between Mexico and San Diego on the Tijuana borderline. Why the burial happened so fast and on the spot is unknown. One possibility is that the family had no time to mourn as they quickly entered or exited the Country.

San Diego Home Owners Rest Assured

Unreported deaths and burials today are almost entirely the result of illicit activities as California doesn’t allow burials at a homeowner’s property. There are loopholes however and with enough money to battle in court it may be possible. Those situations require special language to be attached to the plat description such as, “Notice Of Unusual Circumstance,” 200 feet from westernmost property line buried 6 feet.”

In 1970, San Diego adopted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). An EIR report is prepared if there is substantial evidence that a project may significantly affect the environment for new or existing developments. These reports help to identify and preserve any historical relevant sites.

Properties built before 1970 may not have been privy to CEQA regulations however, there are many examples where construction was stopped to maintain any historic finds. How many unreported finds have occurred we will never know.

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