Marysville fixes grave vandalism
Broken bits of marble formed a pile at Pete Littlefield's feet. The name of Ettie Bockius, born in 1858, was scrambled like jigsaw pieces. The other half of Bockius' headstone stood against a rectangular box of marble, marking her final resting place.
Bockius was only about six years old when she died in 1864 and was buried in the Historic Marysville City Cemetery amid hundreds of other bodies. Like so many other markers in this cemetery north of Marysville on Highway 70, Bockius' headstone was broken by vandals.
Littlefield and volunteer Dave Sumahit tried to reassemble with care what was destroyed.
“The big challenge is finding all of the pieces,” said Littlefield, standing with powdered marble on his gloves next to Bockius' grave.
Littlefield, who works with L & L Monuments of Yuba City, was contracted by the city to repair about two-dozen headstones in the cemetery.
There are hundreds of markers damaged over the years by different acts of vandalism, said Roberta Shurtz, chairwoman of the Marysville Cemetery District.
“Some of them were broken into many, many pieces and they (L &L Monuments) are taking them back to their offices and putting them back together,” Shurtz said.
She wasn't sure who is committed the vandalism but speculated it could be youth who are bored or adults “with a youthful brain.”
Significant vandalism has not occurred since the district installed a locked gate about a year ago, she said.
Although vandalism is never a good thing, efforts to repair vandalism sometimes lead to new discoveries, she said.
Once, a crypt of E. Hamilton was vandalized, and cemetery officials eventually learned that seven people were buried inside after they contacted descendants or relatives of the family, Shurtz said.
“We've leaned to look not only at the damage, but what else we can find out about the burial place,” she said.
The cemetery is the resting place for some of the city's earliest leaders, reaching to the Gold Rush Days.
Unfortunately, the city has not kept up with repairs to the cemetery, Shurtz said, so the need for repairs has ballooned.
Volunteers are needed to help keep the cemetery maintained, and docents are needed to tell the cemetery's story, she said.
On Oct. 28, the Friends for the Preservation of Yuba County History will hold a “Tales from the Crypt,” where they will talk about some of those people buried in the cemetery.
Meanwhile, Littlefield and Sumahit will be gluing headstones back together.
Sumahit suggested that would-be vandals go to the cemetery to clean it up rather than tear it down.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Witter can be reached at 749-4712. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.