The cemetery is located between Ledson Winery and St. Francis Winery, behind the Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Center.
From 101, take Highway 12 east through Kenwood. Take a left on Pythian Rd. Keep left when the street splits, it becomes Los Guilicos Rd. Right on Eliza. It looks like you are turning into the Juvenile Justice Center parking lot. Follow Eliza around the County Works building, 320 Eliza, through the solar panels onto the dirt road. At the end of the road is a gate which may or may not be locked. The cemetery is on the left surrounded by a low wire fence.
The gate is under the jurisdiction of Sonoma County General Services department. The cemetery itself is owned by the Ledson Winery, which you passed on the way in. If you ask nicely someone at 320 Eliza may be able to let you through the gate, but you may also need permission from the owner of the winery to visit the cemetery.
The land was part of the Los Guillicos Land Grant that Vallejo gave to John Wilson. It was bought by William Hood and in 1858 and a large brick home was built, now known as the Hood House, a historic California Landmark (#692) which was the center of the first California winery to export wine to Europe. The building was made with bricks fired on site by Native Americans.
In 1905, the site was bought by Senator Thomas Kearns of Utah, as a summer home. It was visited by several U.S. Presidents.
It was bought by the Knights of Pythias in 1924 and was used as a retirement home for it's members. All of the red brick buildings on the site were built during the Pythian's ownership of the property. During this time, the area was a fully functioning farm. This is when the Pythian Home Cemetery was in use. It appears that the people in the cemetery were members of the Pythian Knights, but that is not confirmed.
The Pythians sold it to the State in 1942, which used the site for a "girls' school," a correctional facility for girls. The land has been sub divided many times over the years. The Hood House and brick Pythian buildings are County owned, and when the Hood House is finished being restored, it is to be open to the public. The Cemetery is a small 2.6 acre plot privately owned, surrounded by county owned land.
The cemetery is in a state of horrid disrepair. The 2.6 acre plot is zoned for cemetery use, but the area that is fenced in is much smaller than 2.6 acres. Just enough for 9 plots wide and 11 plots long. At one point, the cemetery was blacktopped over, but large sinkholes are over each plot. The cemetery is surrounded by trees, and most of the cemetery is buried under a thick layer of dead leaves. Thorny berry bushes grow from cracks in the blacktop.
There are three types of grave markers. There are a total of three large marble headstones located outside of the fence line. Of the rest, there are about 20 small bronze markers, smaller then license plates with names and dates. The rest of the markers are wood, names but no dates, even smaller than the bronze markers, and the writing is almost totally gone. The bronze and wood markers are in no way secured to their spots. There is a small map posted, and as I tried photographing the site, I found that many of the markers are not in the correct places! Even the large granite may not be in the correct places. The map shows Reed Ingraham on the west side of the cemetery in plot 54, but I found his headstone outside of the fence on the east side.
Every headstone in this cemetery is photographed. If a memorial has no photograph, there is no gave marker to photograph. I wanted to photograph every one, but without clearing the cemetery of leaves and berry vines, and laying out the grave markers anew, there is no way to accomplish this goal. The county is in negotiations to purchase the land, and it may again be open to the public.
Pythian Cemetery is a private location difficult to get to and identify as such.
it is marked by a low fence and becoming overgrown and most of the small wood markers are fast losing all (paint) info.
Some brass plaques present, many unmarked but for the overall plot location nailed on a tree
GPS Coordinates: 38.4443, -122.5813
- Added: 18 Oct 2004
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #1995883
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