Thursday, August 28, 2014

San Diego's El Campo Santo Cemetery

This haunting is the result of old graves being disturbed.

El Campo Santos Cemetery, 1888.

In 1849 in San Diego, California the Catholic, the Catholic Church, a cemetery called “El Campo Santo”--The Holy Field. It was used through 1880.

This cemetery was placed in the area that would one day be San Diego’s historic Old Town. It is located just a couple of blocks from the Whaley House--which I wrote about here.

This cemetery eventually had 477 graves. Several of the founding fathers of San Diego are buried at El Campo.

Today this cemetery is only a quarter of its original size. As the city grew part of the cemeteries’ land was claimed for new development, which included: roads, buildings, and homes.

With this expansion, some graves were moved. Unfortunately, others were not.

In 1894 a horse-drawn streetcar was built through part of the cemetery, which later became San Diego Avenue. In 1942, this road was paved over leaving many graves under the street, sidewalk, and buildings.

In previous posts, here and here I mention it is never a good idea to build over existing graves. This often results in problems for the living.

A Renovation

In 1933, the San Diego Historical Society renovated this old graveyard. From one historic photo and varies descriptions, they endeavored to accurately restore the cemetery.

An adobe brick wall was built around what remains of the cemetery. Markers were reset--only 6 of the original broken iron and wooden paling enclosures remained.

It was at this time that the surrounding businesses and homes started to officially report that the area was haunted.

In 1993, equipment that uses radar to penetrate underground determined that there are at least 20 graves under San Diego Avenue.

Just outside the El Campo Santo’s front gate there are small brass circular plaques that read “Grave Site” embedded into the sidewalk and street. Just above the road is a plaque that reads:

“Remembering the more than 20 men, women, and children who lie buried beneath San Diego Avenue.”

Ironically, only one person--a state Assembly member--was deemed worthy enough to be exhumed and re-buried within the cemetery walls.

Another 13 graves, most of them children were found under the pavement on Linwood Street.

For years, businesses and residents in the Old Town area that surround this old cemetery have reported poltergeist activity.

This activity is always described as “annoying.” Most often people report problems with their electricity, lights, appliances and alarm systems often malfunction.

Many people who have visited and walked through El Campo report feeling freezing cold spots. Others that park their cars in front of the graveyard report they will not start when they return.

People that live and work in the area also report seeing a variety of apparitions within and outside the cemetery walls.

Sometimes these ghosts are mistaken for costumed actors promoting a local business.

Ghosts are seen gliding across the graves in the cemetery and groups of entities have been seen standing near the cemetery's perimeter.

Many of these ghosts are only seen from the waist up. When approached they disappear quickly.

One specific ghost that has been seen on several occasions is that of a gravedigger.

Many ghosts reported are described as Native American or Hispanic, which fits with the history of San Diego’s Old Town.

In the 1990s, during a three-year period, the activity became so pronounced that local residents and businesses came together and paid for an exorcism of the graveyard and surrounding area.

This settled the activity down but it is said apparitions are still seen--especially the gravedigger and a group of ghost children.

El Campos Santos Cemetery is a California Historical Landmark. It is located at the 2400 block of San Diego Avenue. Two notable interments at this graveyard are:

James W. Robinson is known as Yankee Jim--died in 1852. He was a French Canadian Western Outlaw who was sentenced to death by hanging for stealing the only rowboat in San Diego Bay. He is thought to haunt Whaley House.

Antonio Garra who died in 1852. He was a Native American chief sentenced to death for organizing an Indian confederation to drive Americans out of California. He was executed at his gravesite, by a firing squad consisting of 12 men. It is believed he is buried underneath what is now San Diego Avenue.

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