Thursday, September 1, 2011

Of Cemeteries, Praying Mantis and McMullins

Good morning. Tina here. I am a day late due to computer problems. Heidi filled in for me yesterday.

A few weeks back my husband and I took a day trip to the coast as my early birthday treat. We enjoyed a leisurely drive up Highway 1 through Marin and Sonoma Counties and up into part of Mendocino County as far as Elk. We turned around in Elk and headed back down to hit the road inland to Boonville.

But first a necessary stop. A visit to the Evergreen Cemetery, on the South West corner of Highway 1 and Mountain View Road in Manchester, California.

Heidi has been here with me. There are many people buried here. Pioneers, loggers, ranchers, lighthouse keepers... It is fascinating to take a stroll along the pathway reading the story of their lives in the sculptured stone.

I have lost track of the number of times I have visited here. I always feel the pull inside to visit my "adopted" family, the McMullins. I know nothing about them, except what can be read on their gravestones.

Six little children lie here next to their parents. Carl, Irene, Lewie, Paulie, Ellie, Infant...
Carl McMullin. August 10, 1873 died September 5, 1874 age 1 year 25 days. Little tow-headed first born, chubby laughing little toddler. Gone so soon.

Lewie. Born May 1, 1875, Died June 5th, 1875. Age 1 month 4 days. So tiny still, just a little armful.

Paulie, born January 12, 1878

Ellie, born January 12, 1878, died the same day.

Paulie died January 19th, he lived a week longer than his sister. Twice blest and both lost.

Infant. 1880. I don't believe you ever got to live. Were you the little brother or the little sister? And you didn't get a name... I am sorry that you didn't get a name.

Irene. Born June 10, 1886. Died March 22, 1887. Age 9 months 12 days. She was our little angel, our shining light.

Jennie W. McMullin, wife, mother, born January 8, 1849, died August 27, 1893.
Samuel W. McMullin, husband, father, born January 24, 1831, died February 25, 1895.

Jennie and Samuel, were you a love match? She was a lot younger.

I have so many questions. Did any children survive their parents and perhaps are buried elsewhere? Did all the little children die and the parents spent their later years visiting here often until Jennie died, and then not long after Samuel followed? Who tended the graves in the years that rolled on afterwards? No one seems to take care of them now.

I have photographed these graves many times over the years, over thirty years to be exact. Sometimes the grass has been well tended. Sometimes naked ladies (amaryllis belladonna) fill many graves in the cemetery with fragrant pink lilies. Sometimes it is so foggy it is hard to make out the letters in the gray stone.

It is a bit harder now for me to get close enough to photograph the faded and moss covered lettering. My cane sinks into the soft weeds as I attempt to position my body closer to the little memorials.
I pulled myself away finally and extracted myself from seed pods and pine needles. Looking back for one last goodbye to "my family", I felt a slithering kind of prickly feeling on my left arm. Ack! Something is crawling on me, get it off!

Oops. It was a quite large (for him anyway... and for my arm) praying mantis! Here he is rather shocked after being rudely ejected from his seat. He was just fine. No praying mantis(es?) were harmed during the writing of this post.
Me? Well, skin still crawling from the sensation of big unknown bug clinging to my arm, I was so flustered from the experience, and so worn out from climbing all over weedy graves, that I did not get any other photos of my hitchhiker.

We packed it up and headed west on Mountain View Road, a very curvy drive, to Boonville. Once there we went for a bit of wine tasting at the Handley Cellars, a delightful winery with good sipping, interesting people and a lovely shady patio.

There at Handley I found this little fellow, a fun, bright piece of art work about the size of a real praying mantis, made in Zimbabwe.

He came home with us, a little birthday treat, and a memory of a visit to my McMullins.


Anonymous said...

I always enjoy your posts but especially this one as my hobby is genealogy. There is a website called "" where people post information and pictures from cemeteries for other researchers - in case you would like to post yours there. Thank you, Kaye

Heidi Ann said...

I really do think there was some type of telepathy going on when you were telling me the story and I knew you were going to say Praying Mantis. I mean, who thinks "Praying Mantis" off the top of their head like that?
It's a sister thing. Definitely.
I recall the cemetery - and I hope you and I can go back there again together some day!

RetroRocketGal said...

A very touching story. People lived such hard lives years ago (yes, even before pesticides and antibiotics in and on our food!). Infant mortality was a blight. Nearly everybody, it seems, parents, too, died young. I have never wished I lived back then. Thanks for the post. That is so sweet of you to have adopted this family.