Last week, a couple of friends and I headed northeast on Highway 180 to the Academy Cemetery. I find cemeteries to be fascinating places — a peek into history, in a way. I like to seek out the oldest grave markers and think about what life (and death) was like at the time, and to look for names that have gone out of fashion.
The Academy Cemetery was established in 1864. It’s a small space in the middle of large expanses of ranch and farm land; clean, but overgrown with wild grass. Here are some photos I took from our visit.
View from the cemetery entrance.
Baley family plot
Giant hole in the Baley plot. Is something trying to get in or out?
The smaller marker shares the initials of the larger, though I don't know its significance.
Permelia: a name I'd never seen before.
"Papa put me in my bed." Kind of creepy in our time, but probably very dear in 1887.
There are quite a few "Unknown" grave markers at Academy Cemetery.
Some of the grave markers haven't stood up to time and the elements very well.
I'd never seen a completely horizontal, coffin-size marker like this before; there were a few like this.
Evidence of avian wildlife. There also was a very vocal peacock roaming a nearby ranch.
"Laid to rest in the hope of the first resurrection." That's next weekend, right?
This small grave -- for a one-month old -- was barely visible under a bush.
Listing the deceased's age in years, months and days doesn't seem as common a practice these days.
The temperature was in the 90s, but it was nice and cool in the shade.
A sad marker, but the name "Clovis" stuck out to me.
By far the most unique marker at the site; the gold plaque reads, "See ya."
I took this brief video to show how peaceful the cemetery is:
While I don’t necessarily agree with continuing the practice of land burials, I find existing spaces like Academy Cemetery to be interesting windows into historic burial traditions and customs, and the elaborate markers to be a kind of (nearly lost) art, almost like visiting an outdoor museum. I look forward to seeking out other burial places in the Fresno area.
Academy Cemetery is located on Mendocino Road off Highway 180. If you go, take your sunblock and make sure to leave the place looking better than how you found it.