Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday- Chinese Camp Cemetery

The winding dirt road from Rt. 49 up to the cemetery

When I remembered that I had a distant Wilkinson relative buried in Chinese Camp, California, we made a special effort to return to this ghost town to see the cemetery.  I had no idea it would be such a stereotypical burial ground, seeming to pop right out of a Western cowboy movie.  Even though I had seen a few gravestones from this cemetery posted on www.FindAGrave.com  I was unprepared for the sight.  As a New Hampshire resident, I was not accustomed to such a barren place

The first thing I feared was rattlesnakes.  It was just about noon when we arrived, and it was hot and dusty.  The few clumps of dry grass were tall and rustled in the wind.  The ground was pockmarked with holes and I was certain they were rattlesnake holes (but what do I know!).  It took all my courage to get out of the car and open the rusty gate.  I was petrified!  But we had made this detour to Chinese Camp just for genealogy purposes, so I bravely ventured out into the cemetery...

A recent gravestone with a Western theme carved into it

In Loving Memory
SEPT. 3, 1925
MAY 6, 2009

a not so recent gravestone
After wandering around, and avoiding tall grass, rocky areas, holes and areas where snakes could hide, we gave up on finding our gravestone.  I will say that everyone hurried quickly to the car, where we all discovered that each person (all four of us!) found the cemetery a bit spooky!  This is the only graveyard where I have had that creepy feeling.  Usually I find cemeteries quite peaceful and lovely.

The grave we were looking for was that of Anna Norcross, the fourth wife of Harry Duran Wilkinson.  For some strange reason she was buried in Chinese Camp, although she had died in Sonora, California, which is about 10 miles north.   Anna was born on the island of Nantucket, in Massachusetts.  I can't imagine any other relative of mine having such a diversity in residences from a lush, fog covered island off New England to a dry, barren ghost town in Gold Rush country, California.  Even stranger, I found a tombstone here with a Mayhew name on it.  Just about every third person on Martha's Vineyard (another Massachusetts island) is named Mayhew.  Coincidence?

Harry D. Wilkinson is one of the few Wilkinsons who left New England and settled elsewhere.  Because we were too chicken to poke around in the tall grass, we couldn't find Anna's gravestone in the Chinese Camp cemetery, and according to Find A Grave's website, there is an Anna buried there with similar dates 1884 - 1965, but with the last name of "Bush".   Is this Anna Norcross Wilkinson?  Did she remarry?  Does anyone know her story?


Harry Duran Wilkinson, son of William Henry Wilkinson and Estelle V. Saunders, born 26 June 1876 in Effingham, New Hampshire, died 29 August 1946 in Napa, California, buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California (served in the Spanish American War 1898 - 1901); married four times:

1st wife Maude Glenini Eddy, daughter of Issac Sylvanus Eddy and Mahala Nellie Bugbee,  born 11 October 1882 in Venus, Nebraska, died 29 July 1919 in Seattle, Washington, one child, Lloyd Harland Wilkinson (1904 - 1945).

2nd wife married about 1922 in Oakland, California to Lucy Mary Mesa, daughter of Francisco Mesa and Maria del Rosario Briones (Yahoo! another Wilkinson married someone with a Spanish surname! She was a descendant of the old Californio Briones family)  born 30 November 1875 in Bolinas, California, died 28 August 1944 in San Leandro, California, one child.

3rd wife Elizabeth Maria Koenig, daughter of Ludwig Koenig and Wilhemina Hallijo, born on 12 October 1872 in Hanover, Germany, died on 27 January 1937 in Oakland.  Three children.

4th wife Anna Norcross, born 13 March 1883 in Nantucket, Massachusetts, died 25 November 1965 in Sonora, California.


Find A Grave website    www.FindAGrave.com

The link to the gravestone of Anna A. Bush  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/search?firstname=anna&middlename=&lastname=bush&birthyear=&birthyearfilter=&deathyear=&deathyearfilter=&location=Chinese+Camp%2C+Tuolumne+County%2C+California%2C+United+States+of+America&locationId=city_16574&memorialid=&datefilter=&orderby=


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday- Chinese Camp Cemetery", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 6, 2011, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/09/tombstone-tuesday-chinese-camp-cemetery.html: accessed [access date]).


  1. According to the online California Death Index, which lists her name at her death, Anna Bush was born on 3/13/1883 in Massachusetts. Anna's mother's maiden name was Brown. Anna died on 11/25/1965 at age 82 in Tuolumne county, California. (Sonora is in Tuolumne county.) It looks like this Anna Bush was also your Anna Norcross.

  2. Thanks, Anonymous! This confirms my theory. Now to find out who is Mr. Bush?

  3. I did another quick search but did not learn of Mr. Bush. It does appear Anna A. Norcross' mother's maiden name was not "Brown" but was Anna's first married name. Probably the person giving the death information on Anna was a child of Anna and was giving his/her own "mother's maiden name." Anna appears to be the daughter of Charles S. Norcross and Emma F. Morris and married Charles Brown on 1 Sept 1901 when Anna was 18 years old. Does this confirm the information you have on Anna?

  4. Anonymous, I couldn't find a birth record for Anna in Nantucket. Her parents are listed in the Mass. VRs Volume 290, page 204. Now I can see in the Mass VRs the marriage in 1901 between Charles Alexander Brown and Annie Amelia Norcross. Thanks!