Although I am not anxious to go there permanently, I do love to visit Arbor Vitae Cemetery. Not only is it beautiful, it is the final resting place of so many folks whom I have met through the years while doing research for this column.
Just the other day, I went out to stroll up and down the rows looking for my friends from the past. First there was Dr. Joseph Borden and Levin Sledge, two members of the Alabama Colony, the first permanent European settlement in this part of the San Joaquin Valley.
Then there was Capt. Russel Perry Mace, who purchased the first lot in Madera in October of 1876 and built its first hotel. From Mace, I walked over to the grave of Henry Clay Daulton, the first chairman of the board of Madera County’s supervisors and the patriarch of Shepherd’s Home.
Up and down the rows I went, and as I passed the old tombstones, each seemed to shout eloquent reminders of past struggles and triumphs. Then suddenly I found myself standing in the Barnett plot, and I stopped cold. My reverie turned a bit sour, for I found myself standing at the site of one of the most hideous desecrations ever perpetrated in Madera County...