Further Proof that Bodies were not Removed

I believe that we have reached the point where we must conclude that the church failed to remove all of the bodies from the field. The letters from Father Simas have made a half-hearted effort to disguise the truth of the matter, but an impartial observer looking at both sides of the discussion would almost certainly agree that many bodies are left in the field. If you still think the position that all bodies have been removed is reasonable I will look at the points made by Father Simas, but the proof/arguments that have been made recently are very weak and in some cases demonstrably false.

Below I will explain why I am very certain that the church cannot be certain that no burials were done in the eastern part of the field and why the removal operations did switch to “potholing” and stopped finding bodies. Much of my proof of this is based on the letter from Tom Richardson.

Point 1. Funeral directors could not possibly tell where all the burials were done.

I received a letter from Father Simas of October 13, 2011. This letter was sent in response to my letter of September 25 in which I requested information on the “12 people, including funeral directors, who had conducted burials at the site” (Simas letter 9/19/11). These people supposedly informed the church of the area that was known to have potential burials.

What Father Simas sent was a report done in 1968 by three ladies that walked the field and reported on what grave markers they located. The report does not indicate where the grave markers were located in the field. However, even if all of the grave markers were located in the west this does not prove, or even suggest that no burials were done in the east of the field. I really do not understand why Father Simas sent this report.

Even if we could talk to all funeral directors that conducted burials at the site we could not eliminate the possibility of burials in the east unless you were able to speak to the people that supervised the burial of paupers in the field. Since some of these burials were done in the early 1900s or late 1800s these funeral directors are no longer with us. As I have pointed out before, it makes sense that the paupers would be buried in the east where there is no view of the bay. The more desirable plots in the west with views of the bay could be sold to families. All of the substantial family plots were located in the west.

If information received from funeral directors was a key to deciding where the bodies were located it certainly would have been mentioned in the letter dated April 5, 2010 from Tom Richardson. Instead the letter mentions the “thermal imaging map” (This map is not thermal imaging, but it does indicate where the bodies are buried.), and the existing grave markers, but information from funeral directors is not mentioned.

I have to conclude that the church cannot be certain that no burials were ever done in the east. Claiming that funeral directors not alive today were able to tell otherwise is not reasonable.

Point 2. The method of locating bodies was changed. “Potholing” was introduced in the eastern 115 meters.

In the letter of September 19, 2011 from Father Simas regarding the method of locating bodies it was stated that “we used the same technical approach throughout our site exploration and no “switches” took place”.

In the letter dated April 5, 2010, from Tom Richardson, General Manager Alameda County Operations, Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services to Adam Tennant of Westgate Ventures, the first page of the letter explains that the method of locating bodies was changed after the first 40 zones (the western most 35 meters) were explored. On page four of this letter the following can be found, “These following zones were explored through potholing to see if soil had bee(n) disturbed at all.”

Looking at the following zones (41, 49, 42, 43, etc.) it is every zone that was examined outside of the west most 35 meters. This is exactly what I have been saying. The method of finding bodies was changed once the western 35 meters were completed. This letter was submitted to the city to show them that all bodies were removed.

Point 3. The map proved to be extremely accurate in west.

In most of the letters Father Simas indicated that the map was “flawed”. Comparing the record of where bodies were removed (in the letter dated April 5, 2010, from Tom Richardson) with the map indicates that the map is extremely accurate. Every high probability site in the west yielded bodies. By my count a total of eight high probability sites in the west yielded 91 bodies. The fact that 16 high probability sites in the east yielded no bodies clearly indicates that a switch of “potholing” stopped the location of bodies.

Point 4. Even the west was not totally excavated.

I walked the field at least every week in summer and fall 2007 when the removal work was being done. I would estimate that about 25 to 40 graves were dug. The letter from Mr. Richardson indicates that 251 bodies were removed. Most of these were removed from the marked family plots. From my observations certainly less than half of the back thirty-five meters was excavated, probably less than 25%. However, I believe that all bodies were removed from the western thirty-five meters, with the possible exception of zones 39 and 40. This is because every high probability site and many low probability sites were excavated. However, the point is that the entire west was not excavated. For example no excavation was done in zone 3. I do not think any excavation needed to be done in zone 3 because the map did not indicate any evidence of bodies in zone 3. I do not think any excavation was done in zones 30 or 38. I suspect that these were just added to the list to make it more complete after Mr. Seelig decided to stop finding bodies.

Also, two men working with one backhoe could not possibly excavated a field 35 meters by 60 meters in less than three months (July to September), and remove and handle 251 bodies and a large number of coffins. I have very serious reservations about the extent of excavation done in zone 39 and 40. These two zones contained three high probability sites and only one body was removed. Zone 39 was examined on the same day (9/28/07) that the switch to “potholing” was made. I strongly suspect that Mr. Seelig had already decided to stop finding bodies when these sites were examined.

Point 5. Where are the paupers buried?

The church has not addressed the burial of the paupers. It was stated at the HARB meeting that Fremont buried its paupers in this field for many years in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It certainly makes sense that they would be buried in the eastern part of the field that does not have a view of the Bay. It is also likely that the graves of the paupers would not be marked with permanent markers. It is reasonable to assume that they would be marked with simple wooden crosses that would not survive very long. This suggests that most of the high probability sites in the extreme east of the field are burial plots of the paupers.

Summary

We cannot say that the church has no incentive to hide buried bodies. These bodies are buried at a depth of six feet and they are mainly in what will be back yards or under the access road. There is almost no chance of them being found. The incentive to hide the bodies was two-fold;

1) To save the cost of removing them.
2) To prevent the embarrassment of removing over 500 bodies from what the church claimed was not a cemetery.

Finally, the church did not really have a say in this. This was a failure to perform on the part of the manager in charge of the removal of the bodies (Robert Seelig) and the church has been slow to admit to the failure of Mr. Seelig.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph T. Lonsdale, Sr.
joe4lonsdale@gmail.com,