Save the Graves – 2021

Celebrating Early El Dorado County Pioneer Families

Save the Graves second annual event was held in Placerville Union Cemetery on October 16, 2021. Guests enjoyed portrayals of eight noteworthy El Dorado County figures. Performances were repeated throughout the day.

1889 – 1969

H. E. was an active community leader and accomplished politician. He was a practicing attorney from 1918 to 1923 and a member of the Placerville City Council during that same time. H.E. was a State Assemblyman from 1924 to 1932; State Senator from 1940 to 1952; and member of the Democratic Central Committee. He also owned Dillinger's Furniture Store and Funeral Home on Main Street. H. E. was an active fraternal leader of the Druids, Masons, Eagles as well as the Lions Club. And to top it off, he wrote a book about, and taught, Esperanto an artificial, universal language that was created to foster world peace and international understanding.
Portrayed by Joseph Tande

1811 - 1901

Nancy was brought from Missouri to Coloma by her owner, who was in search of gold, in 1849. Her three-year-old son was considered too young for the gold mines and was sold to another family. When California, a free state, was admitted into the Union Gooch's slaves were freed. Nancy and her husband, Peter, worked to save money in hopes of one day seeing their son again. Nancy took domestic jobs and Peter worked as a carpenter among other things. In 1871 Nancy bought her stolen son's tenant farm debt and brought him, his wife and children to Coloma.
Portrayed by Sarina Krastev

1861 - 1938

A century ago, Hanna led what is believed to be America's first Suffragette march in Oakland, CA which fueled the movement leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment and the right of women to vote. She, along with many others were displaced by the San Fransisco Earthquake in 1906 moving out of the city where she found other civic minded, active women who did not sit idly by, but fueled a movement starting with that historic march and ending in women receiving the right to vote. Hanna spent her later years in El Dorado County where her ex-husband owned land.
Portrayed by Jan Le Pouvoir

1808 - 1881

Dr. Kunkler was a true pioneer. He, along with his wife and young son, made the trip across the Great Plains in 1849. Kunkler was one of Placerville's first doctors. He presided over the response to the Cholera pandemic in 1850. Between August 1 and November 12 of that year about 13% of the local population (700 people) died from the disease. He later would write a medical treatise on the history, diagnosis, pathology, and treatment of Cholera based upon his Old Hangtown experiences.
Portrayed by Mike Erwin

1826 - 1864

Staples was born in Ireland and came in search of gold. He was a member of the Neptune Engine Company 2 and a deputy sheriff under Placerville's Sheriff James Hume. Staples was a member of the posse tracking the Confederate highwaymen and caught up with many of them at the Somerset House. Staples was said to have been a little reckless, and way too quick to try and apprehend the robbers. Standing at the doorway to a room full of armed men, he leveled his gun and commanded them to "surrender." The bandits replied with a hail of bullets.
Portrayed by Jon Chu

1876 - 1968

Stella was a talented musician and vocalist. Her mother was her mentor and they often toured the region performing duets. Stella composed her first music at age 7 and graduated in 1895 from San Jose State Normal School (later San Jose State College). She taught locally in the Brandon school house and married lifelong friend, Perry Tracy. She immediately quit teaching as married women were not allowed to teach until the passing of the civil rights act in 1964, just four years before her passing. Stella was an early member of the El Dorado County Historical Society to whom she bequeathed her house and home goods.
Portrayed by Amanda Anderson

1907 - 1996

El Dorado County Rancher; led last cattle drive in the area using horses.
Portrayed by Bob Steele

1873 - 1950

Placerville artist; specialized in painting on porcelain.
Portrayed by Lisa Destrow