Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Mardens of Aurora

When I was at the Jamboree I met an author who has a book out that details the life of a family who lived in Aurora, Nevada. Aurora was originally the county seat for Mono County, California but then someone realized that it was actually in Nevada. Peggy Knudsen Lee's book, The Mardens of Aurora: A Gold Rush Family came out of her curiosity about a family buried in the St. John's Cemetery near what was once Aurora.

This book and the author interested me because in August 2007, I have a book coming out, published by Arcadia Publishing entitled Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra. My book covers cemeteries and people in the Eastern Sierra region of California which includes Inyo and Mono counties.

It was neat to meet Peggy because she had done what essentially I had done. She had seen some old graves and wondered about the history of the people lying in those graves. As I researched my book, one of the questions people kept asking was why I was interested in cemeteries for an area that I do not live in nor do I have ancestors. Like Peggy I wondered about the lives and stories of those buried in the pioneer cemeteries I encountered on trips to the Eastern Sierra.

Peggy writes in the introduction to her book, "Walking around the lonesome old place (the Aurora cemetery) made me think of all the folks lying there, their families and their stories." "One grave marker really touched my heart. This was a tall four sided column, engraved on all four sides with their names and dates. they were Dick, age 6 died, Feb 16, 1878. Frank, 8 years old, died Feb 20, 1878. Pearl, age 2, died Feb 23, 1878, and Daisy, 4 years old who had died on Feb 26, 1878...Then we found another, earlier, grave there for "James, Eldest son of H. and Lizzie Marden, age 7 years 8 months, died March 9, 1865." Then further on another marker engraved with the name Hoddie Marden son of Horace and Lizzie Marden, died March 29, 1884, age 18...there were six children of this same couple, gone. It was almost too much to bear..."

As I visited Eastern Sierra cemeteries I too wondered about the lives of the people who lay to rest there. Of the families who lost multiple children in epidemics. Of the tragedy that the 1872 earthquake brought to the area around Lone Pine. Like Peggy I wanted their stories to be told.

Peggy's book is available from Mountain-N-Air Books, http://mountain-n-air.com/. I highly recommend it for those interested in California Gold Rush history or who want to see what one author has done in telling the story of a family.

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