Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Winchell Cove Cemetery At Millerton Lake

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

So, you thought that the only thing preserved from the original Fresno County seat town of Millerton was the historic courthouse. Fort Miller (named after Major Albert S. Miller) and the town of Millerton have been below the waters of Millerton Lake since the dam was completed in 1942.

The occupants of the Winchell Cove Cemetery are listed in one article as deceased soldiers from Fort Miller.
However the link which actually names many of the deceased
suggests that there were also residents from the town of Millerton near the fort who were also buried there. The cemetery plaque simply states “Pioneers of the Millerton area”. The hospital at Fort Miller was later used as the Millerton School.,_California
Millerton was the original Fresno County seat when Fresno County also included what is now Madera County and parts of other counties. Millerton was conveniently located along the banks of the San Joaquin River and near the Los Angeles to Stockton road. (The memorial refers to the “Visalia to Stockton Road”). I remember reading a story from Clarence King’s book, “Mountaineering In The High Sierra,” where he wrote of traveling from the village of Visalia to Millerton and having to outrun two bandits who dogged his heals most of the way.
The demise of Millerton was the result of being flooded by the San Joaquin River (1867) and the establishment of a railroad station near what is now central Fresno (1872).,_Madera_County,_California
The cemetery is not an easy place to locate. I paid $20.00 at the Winchell Cove pay gate to gain entry to the marina parking area. The ‘official fee’ is $10.00 but the machine rejected every bill I inserted except a $20.00 dollar bill!
The cemetery is located on a small peninsula that juts out into Winchell Cove and is accessed by following a dirt road that dead ends and turns into a use trail up to the top of the hill. The cemetery is near that area.
Why does this story have particular meaning for me? My Father’s family immigrated to Quebec from Ireland in 1832. They settled in a place near Quebec City in a place called Cranbourne. The Matson’s that died there were buried in the St. George’s Anglican Cemetery in Cranbourne. That cemetery existed from 1851 to 1973. Eventually the town of Cranbourne became predominately French. A French landowner wanted the land were the cemetery was located. The deceased were exhumed and relocated to the cemetery at Christ’s Church of Springbrook near Frampton Quebec. My wife and I viewed the graves of my family who hopefully will continue to RIP there.    

                        View Of Peninsula And Marina Beyond From East Side Of Cove. Far Right Above Is Winchell Point.

Winchell Creek Waterfall As It Flows Into The Cove

Here are two photographs of a historical marker of personal interest to me on a hill near the Millerton Courthouse. They were sent to me by good friend Fr. Van McCalister

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