March 18, 1998 — Fr. Joseph Quattropane (1946-2011) of St. Clare Catholic Church in Canyon Country
officiates at the reburial of exhumations from Castaic at Eternal Valley Cemetery in Newhall. The remains were encountered Dec. 23, 1997, by Genstar personnel
during grading for the Northlake housing development project.
The remains of five 19th-century Castaic pioneers were laid to rest in Newhall on March 18, 1998, two months after their discovery.
In January, local residents informed Castaic developer Genstar NorthLake that an old family graveyard sat atop the hill where they were starting to build a master-planned community, general manager Matthew Breiner said.
"We weren't initially aware of any grave sites," Briener said. "However, then the neighbors relayed this information we investigated and uncovered one grave. Recognizing the significance of such a find, we exercised extreme caution, protected the site and called the coroner's office.
"After further investigation, the county coroner determined there were multiple graves at the site."
Genstar hired archaeologists to exhume the remains and research their identity, Breiner said.
The grave site was determined to rest on land (the former Lazy Z Ranch) that had been settled in the 1870s by William Willoby "Wirt" Jenkins, an early Los Angeles lawman. Researchers found a published obituary that would debunk at least one local fable concerning Jenkins: the settler died October 19, 1916, from natural causes at the home of relatives in Los Angeles — not in a gunfight in Castaic.
Jenkins was cremated and interred at the Brown and Co. Undertaking Chapel in Los Angeles. At some point his ashes were moved to a mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale; his name appears with that of his widow, Olive (1858-1947), on a shared vault plaque with their daughter June Kinler (1893-1971) and her husband William Kinler (1897-1967).
The Castaic plot contained the bodies of four adults and one infant of indeterminate gender, none of whom could be precisely identified. The infant is believed to be a child of William Jenkins and either his first or second wife. The other four grave occupants, all male, were probably ranch hands who worked for Jenkins.
Like other family plots of the era, the Jenkins plot was not listed in any county records. Jenkins family members remained on the land until the 1960s, when it was sold to The Newhall Land and Farming Co., which subsequently sold it. No direct Jenkins descendants could be located.
Eternal Valley Memorial Park general manager John Clee donated new coffins and a new plot for the reburial. Father Joseph Quattropane presided over the ceremonies in Eternal Valley's Garden of the Pioneers, the resting place of Sanford Lyon and other Newhall settlers.