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On a typical spring day in Central California and within a short drive to the ocean is a place with rolling hills, pastoral meadows and vineyards up the Wazoo! It’s also 10 am in the morning. Now, what would a group of ghost hunters be doing in the daytime amidst all this peace and serenity? Well, we have a date with Charlotte.

Oh, did I mention Charlotte lives in a cemetery? You see, Charlotte died in 1890 while still grieving for her two small children, who had died from diphtheria a short time before her own death. She was only nineteen years 10 months and 5 days old. It’s been said she still wanders the cemetery at the same time and same day of the week, looking and sobbing but never finding her children. When the sightings first started no one seems to know and it has never been documented as to this spirits authenticity but many people profess to have heard or seen Charlotte weeping at night during her endless search. But that is not why Central California Paranormal Investigators (CCPI) are traveling west of Fresno after rising early on a Saturday morning, 7 am early to be exact, to drive 3 hours to Charlotte’s home.

After a Starbucks run to get us jumpstarted and a stop at McDonalds before we even left town, Mark, Mike, Terry, Shamalah and myself are off to our date. Our destination is a 150 year old cemetery near the central Californian coast because CCPI has been invited to participate in their annual clean-up day in May. Many of the gravesites are tended by the descendents of these western pioneers who lived, worked and raised families in this beautiful California valley. But many others have either been lost or forgotten over the decades and so are in varying states of neglect. And like so many other cemeteries around the country, vandalism is no stranger here. Headstones have been cracked, broken and tossed every which way making it hard to match the wayward markers with original gravesites; a difficult task to be sure but not impossible for a certain group of angels. These angels disguised as volunteers wear levis, t-shirts and sneakers, come armed with rakes, shovels, weed whackers and hula hoes, who through hard work and loving dedication have made great strides in putting things right. Connecting relatives to their family history, repairing headstones and maintaining the cemetery’s natural beauty are some of the ways these volunteers work to care for this historical cemetery. For CCPI, it was an honor to be part of this ongoing restoration project after being asked to adopt Charlotte’s grave, since she had no one left to care for her final resting place.

In accepting this responsibility, CCPI made the first of two yearly trips to work at Charlotte’s gravesite on May 19 th. Also armed with rakes, shovels, hula hoes and 2 hours of sweat later, we had cleaned and marked Charlotte’s grave and surrounding gravesites with stones, straightened and reset headstones all the while working our way through poison oak and keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes.

And you thought it was the labor that was making us sweat? Not!

Shamalah and Oly

Terry and Jackie

I have intentionally omitted the name of Charlotte’s hometown and resting place because of the vandalism I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, in the past there have been people, who hoping to catch a glimpse of the resident ghost, wander around the cemetery only to damage gravesites and headstones in the process. Along with the local hormonal teenagers hoping to scare the wits out of their dates, the harm this does to the cemetery is an ongoing problem. I would hope anyone who wishes to gain entry to this cemetery will first seek permission to do so and if denied, respect the wishes of those who work hard to keep this cemetery maintained.

Charlotte’s resting place

CCPI plans to make this our yearly community project for the Central California area. Our next trip is planting day in October where we will sow wildflowers, plant daylilies and irises around Charlotte’s grave and hope it gives her some peace. Who knows, maybe we can start a new fad: Cleaning the Crypt or Hula Hoe around the Headstones. In the meantime, we are all waiting to see if a rash develops and make a mad dash to the drugstore for a bottle of calamine lotion.

To Charlotte, until next time, you are not forgotten.

Jackie Meador

Central California Paranormal Investigators