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Grass Valley, CA June 29, 2001


Vandals deface graves

By Doug Mattson - Fri, Jun 29, 2001

Allen examine a toppled headstone on Cemetery Hill Thursday afternoon. Eileen Joyce
A restoration project at Cemetery Hill in Grass Valley took a hit Wednesday night, when vandals toppled or broke off 35 headstones, causing more than $100,000 in damage.

Shawn McClendon, a Hooper and Weaver Mortuary worker, noticed the damage Thursday afternoon and called police.

"I just can't believe people would do this," he said. "I just can't believe they have any perception of what they've done."

It angered mortuary and cemetery officials enough to a post a $1,000 reward that's likely to grow, said Allen Hutson, owner of Chapel of the Angels.

"I know family values have gone in the toilet, but this is awful," he said. "Those people literally built Nevada County."

He was referring to Gold Rush-era names hand-carved in granite and marble, some of it from Italy.

"Some of these were brought in by wagon," Hutson said.

At the end of Kidder Avenue off Bennett Street, the hill is home to seven cemeteries run by the city, the Masons, Odd fellows, Redmen, Foresters, Pioneers and Hooper and Weaver.

Twenty stones were damaged at the Masonic site, 10 at the city site, and five at the Pioneers site.

At the Masonic Cemetery, Al Frisch had spent the past few years, with epoxy and heavy lifting, trying to repair many previously damaged headstones. The grass was hip-high before the clean-up effort, which involved Nevada County probationers.

"This is just a stab in my back," Frisch said, looking over the damage.

Workers noted the damage followed a swath from the cemetery entrance to a transient encampment. They believe more than one person took part. The front gate had been left open, as it is every night, to allow police to drive through and check for transients.

Hutson acknowledged it might be hard to catch the suspects but hoped the reward money would help.

"I'm just hoping a sense of pride will bring somebody forward on this," he said.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Grass Valley Police Department at 477-4600.     The Union Newspaper, Grass Valley, CA


The following pictures need no captions, they are only a sampling of the damage done.  I do not have  the names for all the damaged gravestones, but will attempt to get the list to post for all to see.  I have noted the following:  Nellie Lathrop, James Farrell, Cyrus King, Augustus Sandholz, Henry Mustgrave (2 years old first photo).

I am deeply saddened by this act of vandalism.  As a labor of LOVE, this web site has afforded me the feeling of having known those buried in our Historic Cemeteries.  It has allowed me the pleasure of communicating with many of you...the proud descendants.

  I have not much, but have come up with $200 to set up an account,  at a local bank for the purpose of  repairing all the damaged stones, curbings and retouching the engravings.  This is a monumental task that we are looking at.  We are now at well over the 35 stones that were damaged.  We do know that the vandal(s) broke one of the taller square gravestones and used it as a battering ram.  To view partial news coverage, click here.


Thanks to the generosity of some mighty fine people, monies were turned over to two organizations for repairs to their cemeteries.  2003


Karen Dyer




For more on this vandalism, Click here.



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