Sunday, May 27, 2018

Stockton's Very Own Texas Ranger

McMullin Monument at Stockton Rural Cemetery

John McMullin
Born: June 27, 1824
Died: November 13, 1868

One of the most majestic looking monuments in all of Stockton Rural Cemetery is in the McMullin plot. John McMullin was born in Baltimore, Maryland the summer of 1827, and by the age of fifteen he had ran away to Texas to join a militia known as the “rangers.”

John McMullin
Upon arriving, McMullin met someone who would turn out to be one of his two best friends in his life, his commander, John Coffee Hayes, one of the men who inspired the Lone Ranger, and Zane Grey’s novel “The Lone Star Ranger.” These rangers weren’t just any militia, they would soon be known as the “Texas Rangers.”

Said to have rode horses better than even the Comanche (which was considered a compliment), McMullin even won a riding match between the Texas Rangers, Commanche warriors and Mexican rancheros.

By 1845,  McMullin was second in command of a company of Texas Rangers led by Ben McCulloch, a former neighbor of the one and only Davy Crockett. He had went to Texas along with his brother, following Crockett who had left earlier on. The many stories of their adventures during this time period is the stuff movies and fantastic novels are made of, and hopefully in the near future I can share more of McMullin’s life with the world.

At some point during the war with Mexico, McMullin met David S. Terry, who had come down to fight alongside the Texas Rangers. The two became close friends and remained so for the rest of their lives. In 1849, the both of them came to California together.  McMullin went from prospecting, to becoming a cattle rancher, and later to breeding horses. He was one of the first people to organize the State Fair, and he helped found the San Joaquin District Agricultural Society.

In 1856, while David Terry was facing problems with the San Francisco Vigilantes, McMullin stayed by his friends side and defended his character on many instances. And when Terry was facing assault charges for beating up the editor of a newspaper that ran a slanderous story about Terry, McMullin was honest about the affair, again defending Terry’s character,  but at the same time not shielding him from consequences of his actions. In the end Terry was only fined $300 for the altercation.

In 1857, McMullin married Eliza Fleming Morgan in Kentucky. He brought her home to California shortly thereafter, purchasing for her a beautiful home on California Street in San Francisco. They went on to have nine children during their marriage.

The family spent their time between San Francisco and San Joaquin County where the ranches were. During his time in San Joaquin County, McMullin built up a 28,000 acre ranch, and also many commercial properties, including a two-story brick structure that once sat on the southeast corner of Main and El Dorado Streets. According to Glenn Kennedy’s research, McMullin also built Stockton’s very first theater.

Unfortunately, Stockton never had a chance to see what other good things McMullin could have accomplished because his life was cut short at the young age of 44. According to his obituary he passed away on November 13, 1868, after suffering with typhoid for only a few days.

The day of his funeral, it was reported that it was the largest procession the city of Stockton had ever seen. With over a hundred carriages following the hearse to the rural cemetery, one can only imagine it was a sight to see. Interestingly, John McMullin had purchased his family plot just across from his best friend David S. Terry. That was actually quite common back then. To the end, McMullin, Terry and John Coffee Hays* remained friends, and two of  the three are resting at the cemetery just across the path from one another.

John McMullin's life is so interesting and detailed that it would take a book to really explain how amazing his adventures were, especially given the fact he lived a relatively short life. I hope to focus more time in the future to tell his story, and go even more in depth, so that others can enjoy learning about this amazing man buried at Stockton Rural Cemetery.

(Copyright 2018- J'aime Rubio,

(* John Coffee Hays is buried in a humble grave at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland).

History of San Joaquin County, George Henry Tinkham
Lone Star Ranger, Zane Grey
Colonel Jack Hays, James K. Greer
Trial of David S. Terry by the Committee of Vigilance, Charles L. Case
Remembered Men in Stockton Rural Cemetery, Glenn A. Kennedy (San Joaquin Historian, 1968)
Tales of Frontier Texas, 1830-1860, John C. Duval

Early History of Stockton's Cemeteries

(Copyright - J'aime Rubio)

Early History of Stockton’s Cemeteries

According to “The History of Stockton” by George Henry Tinkham, Captain Weber deeded the land for the cemetery to "rural associates" who then brought in plants and trees to make the cemetery more like a park. When Captain Weber was still alive, he was often seen there in the cemetery spending a lot of his time working on the grounds. In his older years, he was more reserved and spent a lot of time gardening and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the cemetery as well as other gardens.

“The Illustrated History of San Joaquin County” states the very first cemetery in Stockton was located on Channel Street near San Joaquin Street, and later a second one (Citizen’s Cemetery) was started near Weber and Union Streets. Apparently, there was no fence surrounding the grounds, so livestock would run rampant through the cemetery, as well as vandals defacing the monuments and stealing vases. Because of this, that cemetery was also closed.

When the rural cemetery was finally planned, a huge parcel northeast of town is what was chosen. That land belonged to E.M. Howison, Captain Weber’s former clerk. It was after the city appointed six trustees to plan a newer cemetery, that Weber and the trustees purchased the seventy-five acres from Howison together to establish the rural cemetery. Weber paid $1,000.00, while the trustees appropriated the remaining $1,700.00, making the total cost for the land, $2,700.00.

Mr. Lowe was the very first landscape gardener for the cemetery. The land was broken down into 1,500 lots, both large and small, along with roadways, plots and lots of trees and bushes. The cemetery was established in 1861, and remains one of the only privately owned cemeteries in California operating under the State Act of 1859.

(Copyright 2018 - J'aime Rubio,

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Honoring the Kennedy's

Brothers Glenn, Maurice and Roy Kennedy were born at the turn of the Century in Stockton, California, to parents Ernest Walter Kennedy and Avah May Jones Kennedy.  Growing up in Stockton during it’s infancy, and watching it sprout up into this huge city over the years must have made a huge impact on this family, because it was the history of Stockton and its early pioneers that led to them getting
involved in the Rural Cemetery.

Anyone who is truly knowledgeable about Stockton Rural’s history, will always mention the Kennedy’s at some point while speaking about the cemetery itself. The Kennedy’s were the life blood of the cemetery for decades upon decades. Had it not been for this passionate family of history lovers, much of what is preserved today regarding those buried within these gates would be forever lost.

Maurice Kennedy and his wife, Marietta, both worked at the cemetery together. Maurice was the cemetery’s superintendent and general manager, while Marietta worked as the secretary for over 20 years until her retirement. Glenn Kennedy, brother to Maurice, was the biggest history lover of them all, and he not only worked as secretary and treasurer to the cemetery for many years, but he devoted his life to researching the history of everyone buried within these hallowed grounds.

Glenn Kennedy spent years researching, compiling, writing and publishing small books dedicated to honoring the dead at Stockton Rural, by telling their stories in great detail. He would often donate his published works to the local elementary schools to encourage the children to learn more about Stockton history and those who made history in Stockton. His lifelong work is remembered with every story that has been resurrected from the past and put to paper by way of his hand.

According to all the records I could find, it does not appear that Glenn ever married, but instead was married to his work as a local historian. On November 30, 1994, at the age of 94 years, Glenn Kennedy passed away. His obituary found in the Stockton Record stated that at his request there was no funeral or memorial service. His accomplishments were not given a mention either. 

The fact that he requested there be no funeral or services for him shows he must have been a very humble person, and not one to toot his own horn. That is very telling on the part of his personality. Although he strove to bring back the stories of the forgotten ones at Stockton Rural, digging through archives, books and every record he could get his hands on to make sure none of these pioneers were forgotten, Glenn was uninterested at leaving his own personal legacy.   

No other person had such dedication to this cemetery, and I doubt there will ever be anyone with such devotion there again. Those who roam the winding paths of this property, taking photos, reading headstones and even researching the stories within, will never understand the depths of loyalty and love he shared for this place. Sadly, when Glenn passed away, his legacy was swept aside and nearly forgotten.

I have vowed that as long as I am researching the stories hidden here, and as long as I am walking these grounds, I won’t let Glenn Kennedy be forgotten. I will always keep Glenn Kennedy’s legacy alive by speaking about him and all the work he did here so that his lifelong passion and dedicated research will have not been in vain, because I feel that just like he wanted to make sure everyone was remembered here, now I want to do the same for him.  

To the original keeper of the forgotten ones, you will not be forgotten either.
  Rest in peace dear Glenn.

P.S. Thank you to Roland Boulware, a long time Stockton Rural Cemetery researcher who initially introduced me to both Glenn Kennedy's work as well as the cemetery itself. 

(Copyright 2018 - J'aime Rubio,
Photos by: Roland Boulware.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Not So Haunted Cemetery - Stockton Rural Cemetery

So recently I have been hearing about all sorts of "ghost tours" and ideas for "haunted tours" throughout the state. It has become almost a fad lately, and it appears that everyone wants to get on the bandwagon.  Now all of a sudden it seems like every historic place is claiming to be haunted, and offering "haunted tours" or spreading ghost stories at various locations. FYI: Just because a place is historical doesn't mean that every place is haunted. Stockton Rural Cemetery will be no exception, sadly.

For the record, I have absolutely nothing to do with any of the ghost tours that will be happening in the future at this cemetery. If you want to learn the history of a place or a person, then I am the person to talk to, but I do not like to get involved in the haunted aspect when it comes to historical tours. That is just my personal preference.
So what does that have to do with Stockton Rural? Well, I just learned that there will be some ghost tours happening there this year. Again, besides my personal feelings, I know that there hasn't been much in the way of ghost stories involving this cemetery over the years from 1861 to the present day, so I am curious to find out where all these stories are suddenly coming from? 
I do know of two possibilities though, and that is why I decided to write this blog, in order to address it ahead of time. Way back in 2009, a book titled "A Ghost Hunter's Guide to the California Gold Country" came out by author Jeff Dwyer. His chapter on Stockton Rural is vague at best, but at the end he had to throw in a "ghost story," if that is what you want to call it, claiming that an apparition is seen after dark in the cemetery near the grave of Peter Singleton Wilkes. For the record, the cemetery never stays open after dark, they close early between 4-4:30 pm most times, I know because I have been coming there for years.

Also, if anyone out there knows about Peter S. Wilkes, it would be my fiance' - as he has a very special connection to this man, and he was researching about him years before anyone took an interest in his grave. As my fiance' often says "I was country when country wasn't cool," that's Roland. He has been wandering this cemetery for over 10 years, taking photos and researching thousands of people who are buried here when no one else cared. If anyone would know about Mr. Wilkes, or any claims of ghosts haunting the cemetery, it would certainly be Roland.

So what does he have to say about it? Absolutely nothing. He states for the record that although he has had many paranormal experiences in his life, in various locations, Stockton Rural Cemetery is not one of them. Period.

Roland has also been there in the evening (after hours) with the manager years ago when they were trying to figure out who was vandalizing the crypts and stealing the doors, but even then that is not the norm. The staff locks up when the cemetery closes around 4-4:30 pm ALWAYS.  The only people that get in there after dark besides a security guard, are homeless people who jump the fence near the railroad tracks, and they aren't talking about ghosts.
For the record, there has never been any sorts of documented or verified stories of ghosts or paranormal experiences at Stockton Rural, period. Playing on these stories might be fun for those who like the paranormal but to me it is a huge disrespect to the memories of those buried there, resting in peace.
Besides the unverified story about Peter Singleton Wilkes' grave, the only other story that could possibly have given some sort of idea of supernatural activities is the story of Daisy Dryden, another resident at Stockton Rural. However, even her story doesn't state anything about her grave being haunted.

You see, Daisy Dryden claimed to have seen into the other side just before dying. Some believe she was hallucinating while others believed she really could see between the veil of the human and spirit realm. After she died she was buried with her siblings at Stockton Rural. Her mother, who wrote this account in a book "Daisy Dryden, A Memoir" believed Daisy and her siblings were all resting in peace, and that their souls were together in Heaven. Whatever it is you believe, we cannot ignore the fact that Daisy's own mother never mentioned anything about her grave being haunted.
Again, I am sure in the near future you will start to read about or hear sensationalized stories about Stockton Rural claiming that apparitions are seen, or that ghosts roam the cemetery at night, but where are these people who allegedly saw these things? No one has any documentation or witness accounts to share or cite as a source, it is all hearsay and conjecture. And again, where have all these stories been for the past 150 + years? They certainly were not documented anywhere in any local history books, so did they just spring up out of thin air? It appears so. 
In all the years I have been roaming this cemetery, all I have ever felt there was peace. I personally believe that those buried there are all resting in peace, and do not haunt the cemetery, though I respect everyone else's beliefs. Still, don't you think that if a ghost wanted to haunt somewhere it would be a place they remember? Where you lived? Where you died? A place you loved? In that respect, cemeteries, although often thought to be creepy, would really be the last place that a ghost would choose to haunt, if you stop and think about it. Again, that is just my opinion.
If you do hear about ghost stories involving Stockton Rural Cemetery in the future, please take them with a grain of salt. They are more than likely fabricated to entertain, not educate. ---

(Copyright 2018 - J'aime Rubio,