Museum hosts 'A Grave Occasion' cemetery tour and dinner fundraiser
The Plumas County Museum Association will host a tour Saturday, Sept. 18, of the Old Quincy Cemetery as the first of several fundraisers throughout the year to help raise the $34,000 needed for the assistant museum director's salary.
Join the immortal William W. Kellogg, ex-miner, constable and justice of the peace, county assessor, county clerk, criminal lawyer, publisher and editor of The Quincy Union, on a spiritual group tour of the cemetery.
Along the way, local actors, under the direction of Terry Gallagher, mysteriously appear from behind selected markers to portray some of Plumas County's more famous, or infamous, characters and to share their stories and a few enticing morsels of local history.
Festivities start at 4 p.m. with a silent auction, old-fashioned lemonade, ice tea, fine wine and hors d'oeuvers.
Kellogg's tour will commence at 4:30, followed by a buffet dinner prepared by museum members utilizing recipes found in the Plumas County Historical Cookbook.
During dinner, there will be a reverse strip tease, dancing, music and other surprises.
Organizers anticipate that this novel event will become an annual Indian summer activity with visits to other bone yards in Plumas County in future years.
For a $50 ticket patrons get a dinner, social gathering at dusk in the old Quincy Cemetery, drinks and hors d'oeuvers, dancing, music, reverse strip tease, performances by the county's finest thespians and the knowledge that they are supporting one of Plumas County's most important facilities.
Tickets are available at Epilog Books, Plumas County Museum or from the Plumas County board trustees. Contact Scott Lawson, 283-6320; Jerry Thomas, 283-4231; Charlie Brown, 283-3416; or Don Clark, 836-2586. There is only room for 60 guests, so tickets will go fast.
Quincy Cemetery history
The Quincy Cemetery dates back at least to the early 1850s, although no formal records have been found to give the exact date of founding. Historians rely on the earliest tombstones as indicators of its age.
Of record, however, are several surviving receipts from that time period that refer to the construction of a gallows and coffin for an impending execution to be held in what was called Hangman's Ravine, running from the mountain near the cemetery.
Early photos of the cemetery show the now stately oaks as young slips, encircled by a white wooden picket fence. Early efforts beautified the site, with a caretaker managing it with funds provided by the families of those interred there.
Because cemeteries were often the shadiest and most pleasant spots in a town, during the 19th and early 20th centuries they often served the dual purpose of a park or picnic area for the town's residents.
The Quincy Cemetery is populated with many of the movers and shakers of 19th-century Plumas County, as well as lesser-known, down-to-earth, regular, hardworking citizens. Some of the more prominent folks interred there include Arthur W. Keddie, Plumas County surveyor and railroad visionary; William Wagner, owner and operator of Bucks Ranch years before it became Bucks Lake; Elizabeth Stark Blakesley, namesake for Elizabethtown; John Boyle, a Quincy attorney murdered on Main Street over the location of the county high school in 1913; James Haun, an 1850s Nelson Creek gold miner turned rancher and grandfather of "Birdie" Swingle who helped create the Plumas County Museum; John Thompson, founder of the Illinois Ranch, now the Thompson Valley Ranch, one of Plumas County's legal founders and grandfather of Stella Fay Miller, the lady who left the money to build the Plumas County Museum.
Many more such illustrious folks rest on this now shady hillside, and many more unsung individuals are located without benefit of tombstones.
About 1912, young Anna Foote, a Chinese girl, died and was to be buried in the Quincy Cemetery when a strong opposition arose to that plan. After heated debate, the unfortunate child was buried outside the cemetery fence. That precipitated the formation of a Chinese cemetery the following year further up the hill and to the east, on the right side of Radio Hill Road.
Today, the Quincy Cemetery is about full, and a new, modern style cemetery known as East Lawn was constructed in the late 1960s near the armory.
To learn more about the deceased denizens of Quincy Cemetery, be sure to secure a ticket to the Sept. 18 event.