Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune
Members of the Padilla family, from left, Marshal, Shirley and son Wayne at the grave of Clifton Miller her father one of seven members of the Miller family interred at the New Hope Southern Baptist Cemetary.
Community members gathered on Sunday to dedicate a sign to an old burial ground. The New Hope Southern Baptist Cemetary at Road 21 1/2 and Avenue 11 in rural Madera county is the all-but-forgotten final resting place for as many as 100 graves. There is no grass or even a reliable source of water to grow it.
A pair of local civic groups have stepped up to provide some volunteer assistance.
Commander Angela Ipock of the Veterans of Foreign War Post-1981 and members upon learning of the war veterans buried there have helped with clearing weeds and cleaning gravestones.
The cemetery now sports a new carved wooden sign hanging above the gate. This signage came about through the efforts of the E. Clampus Vitus 41-49 a service club that supports historic preservation projects.
When the group learned of the cemetery’s plight and that it contains the grave of fellow military comrades they got involved and the members carved and installed a sign on the property.
Maderans Marshals and Shirley Padilla have been tending the graves since they were newlyweds more than 60 years ago.
“After we were married Shirley told me we had inherited this cemetery where generations of her family are buried,” Marshal said.
Her father Clifton Miller and her grandparents are included with the seven members of her family extending back several generations buried there.
They aren’t the only locals who have loved ones interred here. Willis Barton Blalock the father of local brothers Marvin and Melvin Blalock, is laid to rest here also.
Research indicates there may be as many as 100 graves on this two-acre plot.
The property was maintained by the New Hope Southern Baptist Church that shared the property. The church building burned in the 1970s and the maintenance of the graves fell to relatives of those buried there.
“Bill Roberts and Dexter Wisener and a few others also helped take care of the cemetery for years, but they have since passed away. They deserve a lot of the credit,” Marshall said.
With no one else left to weed and tend the graves, the future of the historic cemetery remains uncertain. Anyone interested in helping preserve this local treasure can leave a message for the Padillas at 674-7822.