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Historic Oxnard Japanese Cemetery

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Oxnard Historic Japanese Cemetery
In 1885, the Hueneme Masonic Lodge established a cemetery in the area of Pleasant Valley Road and Etting Road in Oxnard. The cemetery was used for about 20 years until Ivy Lawn Cemetery in the city of Ventura opened. In 1908, the Masonic Lodge decided to create a segregated cemetery on the triangular piece of property down the road from their cemetery. They had two non-white people buried on the Masonic side, a Japanese and a Chinese individual, while  Ivy Lawn Cemetery was whites only at that time.

At least 129 Japanese, many of the single male farmworkers are buried here. Many infants and toddlers are buried here also. There is a total of around 200 people buried here, with a few who have been removed by families. There is no caretaker on the property and it has been unsecured for many years. On June 19, 2017 the historic Japanese cemetery was vandalized, with many grave markers pulled out or toppled.

Our chapter hopes to change this in light of the recent vandalism and desecration of the historic cemetery. Though most of our members do not have family members buried here, we are passionate about the restoration in spite of this setback. It is part of our tradition to honor the dead. We want to right the situation to honor the Japanese pioneers of Ventura County.

Fundraising Goal
Restore the Dignity of the Japanese decedents of Ventura County
The ultimate goal of our chapter is to raise $27,000 to replace the chain link fence with wrought iron fencing to match what the city of Oxnard had done on two sides. Our chapter would also like to purchase head stones that would replicate and match to previous photos what was used from the 1900’s through 1960’s. Any additional funds will be set aside for the continued maintenance of the cemetery.

Basic Repair and Recovery
We would like to initially raise $12,000 to replace the markers, making them more permanent than what is currently on site. Right now, the wooden markers are simply placed in the ground (sandy soil) and with time, have eroded or sunk and now, about 20 markers were knocked down by a man on June 19, 2017. It will also be used to replace the broken chain link fence with another chain link fence so the cemetery is more secure from trespassers. We would like to replace all 60 wooden markers.

When the work is completed, we will invite all those who participated in the restoration to a rededication of the cemetery. This would honor the memory of the Japanese pioneers in Ventura County who overcame difficult hardships to live and die in the area, thus paving the way for future residents of color to live and work comfortably in Ventura County. The dedication would involve local church leaders to bless the ground and to give thanks for the work of those who helped recreate and restore the cemetery.

Ventura County JACL is a 501c(3) non-profit organization. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation directly to the organization, please email [email redacted].

*Top photo courtesy of Anthony Plascencia, Ventura County Star Newspaper. For more information please see the coverage in the Ventura County Star.

Follow up coverage by the Ventura County Star Newspaper on July 4, 2017 can be found here .

Organizer and beneficiary

Elizabeth Hiroyasu
Goleta, CA
Ken Nakano

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