Residents, visitors give historical tour of Al Tahoe Pioneer Cemetery
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Community members and residents of the Al Tahoe Neighborhood were given the opportunity to hear and see updates to the Al Tahoe Pioneer Cemetery during an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 20.
Members of the Al Tahoe Pioneer Cemetery Improvement Committee dressed in 1800s period clothing to give history lessons and tours of the cemetery.
The improvement committee has put a lot of effort into the cemetery, since they worked with the City of South Lake Tahoe to take on restoration efforts of the cemetery in 2020.
They brought in a ground-penetration radar specialist to mark out where people were buried and have been hard at work trying to identify those people.
During the Sept. 20 open house, the committee showed off several new improvements to the cemetery.
The first is the restoration of the large Richard Peter marker. The marker had crumbled and broken significantly, the base had sunk into the ground and the fence surrounding the marker was falling down.
The committee partnered with Ira Kessey, a sculptor and monument designer out of Tahoe City, to restore the marker.
He rebuilt the upper part of the obelisk, resurfaced the base, cleaned the stone, and recarved the lettering. He also placed a new fence around the grave.
“Everytime I’m working on a monument, I feel a connection,” Kessey said. “When I was doing the excavation, we found a piece of metal that had been purposely buried behind it that was part of a hammer. In the monument industry and the Victorian age, they would do something like that and a broken hammer would symbolize that your work is done.”
He also found a glass marble that would’ve been left as a gift.
In addition to Peter’s marker, the committee was also showing off a marker for Samuel Faylor. According to Rosemary Manning, Chair of the Committee, a neighbor had found the marker in his backyard many years ago but didn’t know what to do with it. The historical society directed him to the Cemetery Committee who gladly took his donation.
Manning is asking for anyone else who may have any of the markers, that were lost or stolen over the years, to return it to the committee. She added that no one will get in trouble for having the markers.
About 80 community members and visitors attended the open house.
“People are so happy that we are helping to restore the Cemetery,” Manning said. “People are so into tracing their ancestors now, I think people are very interested in the ancestry of the people who are buried there.”
Manning said there will be on-going opportunities to learn about the cemetery and they will continue to write grants for funding to include grave markers for the burials of the “unknown,” interpretive display panels, benches, and a donation wall.
To learn more about Kessey, visit Kisesculpture.com.
To learn more about the cemetery, visit http://www.laketahoemuseum.org/pioneer-cemetery-.html.
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