Thursday, February 17, 2011

The legend of Chowchilla's Minturn Cemetery

The Chowchilla River, which along it's banks lies the Minturn Cemetery

Photo courtesy of the Yosemite/Madera County Film Commission

On the banks of the Chowchilla River in northern Madera County lies a small cemetery dating back to the late 1800's. Both the cemetery and the area itself were named after wheat farmers by the name of Minturn who had a railroad siding built in the area in 1872. Buried at the cemetery are Rowland (1845-1894), Jonas (1819-1884) and Jonas's wife Abby West (1820-1899). It should be noted that Jonas and Abby had several children, but none are buried there.

Rumors of paranormal activity have gone back for many years. High school students would go out there in the hopes of witnessing something strange. There have been reports of hearing a woman screaming and children either crying or laughing. Others have claimed to have seen the ghost of a man picking up trash around the graves. There's even a report of a group of teens going out there one night and their car died when the drove up to the cemetery. One group even claims to actually hear a disembodied voice asking why they came back and they they were going to die.

One has to ask the question is this cemetery actually haunted and if so why? Could the ghost of the man that has been seen be either Rowland or Jonas, making sure the grounds on which they are buried are kept clean and tidy? And what of the reports of the woman screaming? Could this be Abby? Perhaps the sound of ghostly children can be linked to this. It's known that Abby and Jonas had several children, but the cemetery only has the three I mentioned buried there. There's no mention of any children at all. Maybe Abby is screaming because her children aren't buried in the same location she is and the children are crying for the same reason. All I do know is that the legends of the Minturn Cemetery have persisted for a long time and will continue to do so.

Please note that I did not say where this cemetery is located. I was told it is on private property and that the owner's permission is required first. Even with that information I don't know the exact location, just the intersection of two roads and then you travel down a dirt path for about a mile. With that being said if anyone does decide to find this cemetery, please, please get the owners permission first. If not you will be trepessaing and will deserve any punishment you will get. Don't fuck this up for paranormal researchers just because you want to get a cheap thrill.


Anonymous said...

If this is the one in Chowchilla just off the main road (the only cemetary I know of in Chowchilla), I have been there many times as I have family buried there. Granted I have only been there during the day but I have never seen or heard anything paranormal there. As for the children screaming aspect of it, the cemetary actually has two halves. The left is adults and the right is children. Sometimes children are buried with their parents on the left half if the deaths were under obvious circumstances.

Anonymous said...

It's off the 171 exit before chowchilla on the north bound side. Haven't gone past the no trespassing sign tho would like to .

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael,

Our group may be interested in investigating (we are in Fresno). How can I find owners name? Public records? I am assuming the private property means it is a small private plot? I ask because one of the comments indicates a cemetery off the main road...the other comment suggests something different...any help would be appreciated, and by all means we will definitely contact the owner to get permission first!
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I went there last night with some family and family friends and experienced the woman screaming two times. The first scream sounded like a hawk or a bird of some sort, the second one sounded as if it was coming from a distance(maybe the tree that the woman had hung herself from after she killed her 3 kids) but it sounded so vivid as if it was right behind you. I could hear the vibrations in the scream.

Michael said...

@Anonymous: This is the first I have heard that the woman hung herself after killing her three children. Can you elaborate on this story some more? Curious as to where you heard it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Well, my dad's friend was telling us the history and the background story about the woman. When you drive out to the graves, the only tree on the rigth side of that little dusty road is the tree where she hung herself.(So I was told)

Anonymous said...

I am amazed by these stories im reading. I live less then a mile away from these graves and have passed by there numerous times, while taking a shortcut to my house-at night. I have yet not exprienced any of the paranormal explained in the post above. However, i became very intrigued with the Minturn Family history. I would like to find out more of what happened in reality with this family.

Salvador Cervantes said...

I grew up about 2 miles west from where the graves sit. I traveled along the paved roads many, many times and my dad did tell me about that area being haunted. A couple weeks ago a coworker of mine who grew up in chowchilla told me about the graves and about the book The Minturn Chronicles. I found a copy at the Clovis Bookbarn and learned about the Minturn family. On September 15, 2013 I went to the location but hesitated to enter the dirt road because there are no trespassing signs posted. I would like to visit the location with my dad just to check it out. I am not interested at all in the paranormal activity. That would freak me out for days.

Anonymous said...

I went there when I was 18 with about 10 people in two cars. We went because a friend told us that if you knock over the mothers headstone and then go up to the house (what was left of it) and wait for a few minutes, when you return it will be upright again. We were curious but no one planned on knocking it over. However, one guy did and a girl starting screaming to put it back up. He did. Then one of the cars died and we had to turn the other one around to jump it. If you've been there, you know how narrow the road was. Very creepy feel but didn't see anything paranormal.

Kind of weird sidenote, the original friend who told us DID knock it over on a previous occasion and claimed with was returned upright without explanation. He died in a freak accident within a few months. The guy who knocked it over when I was there had his sister die in a freak accident within a few months.