Sophie Says: Life stories from Winters Cemetery

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A Winters Express opinion column

Oh, the stories that could be told and secrets kept. In every grave is a life story.

For instance, Solomon Hook was 14 years of age when he and his family were stranded with the Donner Party during the winter of 1846. Solomon was one of the fortunate survivors and he was buried in the Winters Cemetery in 1878.

The collective memories that lay here precede the Civil War and continue through all the great events to our day. As for the secrets, we may have to wait until the resurrection to learn all that has been taken to these graves.

Cemetery Grounds Foreman Nick Glide graciously led me to the locations of the oldest grave sites. A few burial sites pre-date the official opening of the cemetery in 1876. Wm. F.Y. Overhas died in 1862 and George B. Day in 1863. Nick suggests that these may have been among those disinterred from a small cemetery in Buckeye. Sheila Carbahal, Cemetery District Manager, speculates that they could have come from Monticello, which was flooded by Lake Berryessa after the dam was completed in 1957.

Nick pointed out that many of the older sites are family plots. Sheila explained that the cemetery was founded and run by the Buckeye Mason Lodge who encouraged their members to purchase plots that would accommodate either six or 12 graves. When the cost to manage the cemetery became prohibitive the Lodge was successful in promoting a Winters Cemetery District and in 1941 the lands were deeded to the District.

The idea of family plots dates back to the days of Genesis. Abraham and Sarah are buried in the cave of Machpelah as is his son Isaac. Jacob, the son of Isaac fled to Egypt to avoid a great famine where his son Joseph was appointed by the Pharaoh to be a ruler over all of Egypt.

When Jacob died, Joseph ordered that his father be embalmed and with a great company of men took him to the cave of Machpelah to be buried. After the plagues, when Moses left Egypt, he followed the wishes of Joseph and took his bones with him to be buried in the same place.

Today it is less common to observe this practice, but I was privileged to follow the wishes of my father and accompany him from California to his final resting place next to my mother, his parents, my mother’s parents and other close relatives at Sunset Lawn Cemetery in Salt Lake City.

There must be an intuitive sense of how precious these bonds are between family and those that we love and that we want to be near to them, even in death. Many believers receive comfort in the message reinforced on Easter Sunday that these bonds are eternal and that life continues on after we leave this estate, whether as spirits or as resurrected beings.

Sophie Says
Well, Gramps, you put me in a spot. Does that mean I rest in peace with you or with my canine predecessors?

Gramps invites you to submit stories of someone interred in the Cemetery that would be of interest to readers of the Winters Express and that could be published in a Sophie Says column.

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