The Press Release at the end of this message was sent out this morning to
media representatives in the Sacramento area.
As president of the El Dorado County Pioneer Cemeteries Commission, I have
attempted to keep a residential subdivision from impacting a small cemetery
in Cameron Park. Efforts to this point have not been as fruitful as we
would have hoped.
Much as I have asked you to do in relation to other historic cemeteries with
immediate problems, it would be helpful for others to let the County of El
Dorado know they are watching this situation.
Please contact the District 1 Supervisor Rusty Dupray at
bosone(a)co.el-dorado.ca.us or call him at (530) 621-5650.
Please cut and paste the following message and send it to Supervisor
Honorable Rusty Dupray, District 1 Supervisor
County of El Dorado
630 Fair Lane
Placerville, CA 95667
Re: Skinner Burying Ground, Cameron Park
Dear Supervisor Dupray:
I learned that a residential subdivision is threatening to engulf the
historic Skinner family cemetery near the intersection of Green Valley Road
and Cameron Park Drive. Too many of California's historic cemeteries are
being impacted by development projects these days with no regard at all to
the pioneers buried within them.
I hope you will help to ensure that this cemetery is not adversely impacted
by the effects of the Cameron Glen Estates project. Please help to protect
and preserve it in a way that it will remain visible from Green Valley Road
as it has for over 136 years.
[Your name, address, email address and phone number.]
[End of message text.]
Thanks so much for lending a hand!
State Coordinator, CALIFORNIA SAVING GRAVES
President, El Dorado County Pioneer Cemeteries Commission
PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWS:
No Rest for the Dead in El Dorado County
James Skinner could never have imagined that 136 years after burying
his son John, a struggle would become necessary to protect the resting place
of his family. He could never have known that in the county he once helped
settle there is no rest for the dead.
Now a group of El Dorado County residents is endeavoring to protect
and preserve this small historic cemetery in Cameron Park. In the past this
area was known as Green Valley. Just north of the cemetery is Green Valley
Road that was first known as the Sacramento and Coloma Road in the 1850s.
It was the earliest route to and from the newly discovered California gold
Pioneer James Skinner owned his ranch and winery in Green Valley from
1856 until his death in 1885, when he was buried beside his son John in the
little cemetery on the hill overlooking his home. The boy had tragically
died in a hunting accident in 1868. Skinner's wife Jessie was laid to rest
in the ranch burial ground in 1898, and Skinner's lifelong friend David
Reid, who had emigrated with the family from Scotland in 1840, was interred
there on his death in 1899. The bachelor sons of the family, Alexander and
William were also buried here.
James Skinner's children sold the ranch in 1898. Together with the
cemetery, they excepted and reserved to themselves and their heirs, an
easement running 200 feet to the Green Valley Road. They also reserved the
right to use the easement "at all times" for the purposes of caring for the
cemetery and "interring other bodies therein."
The James Skinner family has not rested in peace for many years now.
Since the 1970s,, development in the vicinity of the old ranch and cemetery
has been extensive. Every residential or commercial project approved for
construction near or adjacent to the cemetery has caused vandalism and
desecration to occur.
In the late 1980s, a shopping center was constructed on one of its
boundaries, cutting the hill to a depth of 12 to 15 feet on the east side of
the cemetery. The gravestones have been continuously vandalized or stolen
ever since. Now only the stones for James and Jessie Skinner and David Reid
survive. A white picket fence that was required of the shopping center
developer by the County has been torn apart and put together at least twice
since the mid-1990s.
Now Cameron Glen Estates, a residential subdivision on the southern,
western and northern boundaries of the cemetery, threatens to completely
engulf it. When the project first began in 1990, the County of El Dorado
told the developer that the board of supervisors was the legal authority for
the cemetery. This contention was made even though Elva Joerger Ryan, James
Skinner's great-granddaughter, was paying property taxes on it, as she had
Project plans for Cameron Glen Estates will substitute an arbitrary
access route to the cemetery created by a 1967-subdivision map. Although
the 1967 map did not identify the Skinner deed which established the family'
s rights, neither did the 1990 Cameron Glen subdivision map. Some believe
the developer ignored the controlling deed in order to deliberately and
unlawfully extinguish the true easement. If plans for Phase 5 of this
project are approved, two houses will be constructed on the north side of
the cemetery and will interfere with the family's easement described in
Elva Ryan's family was never notified of this project or the
shopping center development because the County had maintained it was
authority over it. The family did not learn of the problems that the
cemetery was suffering until late-2000 when members of the El Dorado County
Pioneer Cemeteries Commission (EDCPCC) contacted them. The group has since
worked with James Skinner's great great granddaughter, Jeanne Ryan Jackson
of San Francisco, who continues paying the property taxes on the family
Mrs. Jackson has asked the EDCPCC to work on behalf of the Skinner
family cemetery. She hopes the group will help ensure it will be protected
and preserved as the children of James Skinner intended it would be. The
Commission has advised county project planner Rogers Evans of the easement
dispute. Evans has been asked to withhold all further approvals affecting
the cemetery pending a land survey to locate the original easement.
Until this issue is resolved, the James Skinner family will not rest