Headstones offer historical perspective

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Fresno County's pioneer families will be honored this weekend at a local cemetery. (KFSN)

Fresno County's pioneer families will be honored this weekend at a local cemetery.

A gentle foothill breeze brought soothing sounds along highway 168. Academy Cemetery has long presented a gateway to the past. Many of the headstones were set long before the oak trees started to offer shade.

Chuck Rigsbee of the Fresno County Historical Society explained, "It's basically the pioneers of this part of California, Fresno county so it has a lot of significance and history."

Rigsbee's father is among the thousand people buried here.

Saturday morning at ten a new monument will be dedicated so a new generation can learn more about the cemetery's origins.

Clovis Cemetery District Board Chairman Stan King said, "The first internment here took place over 150 years ago. It was the Baley family and they had lost their son Benajmin Baley."

Up until the 10-year old Benajmin Baley was buried here families took a day's ride by horse or buggy to Centerville or Fort Millerton in Friant for proper funerals.

Headstones dating back to the gold rush honored judges, constables and ranchers.

Rigsbee said, "Some of these old marble headstones here are from the east coast and came around the horn to get here. Today we use the local quarry here. A lot of the dark granite headstones are right from the local area."

The grounds have seen vast improvements in recent years.

King added Academy Cemetery has room to expand for families seeking a smaller, peaceful place to lay loved ones to rest.

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societycemeteryhistoryfresno county
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