Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Diego in San Diego County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

The Gravedigger of Old Town

Rafael Mamudes

 

(In Memory of)

 
The Gravedigger of Old Town Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 28, 2005
1. The Gravedigger of Old Town Marker
Inscription. Rafael Mamudes was a native of Hermosillo and led an adventurous life. He was once a baker and followed his trade to Monterey. He also mined at Calaveras County and made a sea voyage to Guaymas, Mexico. When he came here to San Diego, he supported himself by doing day labor. He owned a little plot of land on which the old cobblestone jail once stood.

Legend has it that this hoary old Mexican man made a murderous attack upon his good wife. His penance was to ring the church bells whenever the occasion demanded. Rafael worked industriously chopping wood, hauling, digging wells, or cleaning them out, but his most noble work, was to dig graves every time the Angel of Death came to Old Town.

This weather beaten old man was a devotee who came to be seen trundling his wheelbarrow down the road daily.

Never did he miss a church service. With abject humility and self-abasement, he would bow beside the basin of the chapel and cross himself with the Holy water. Hed gaze at the alter then edge toward it in rapt devotion, before sinking to his knees in prayer.

From the notes of Miss Lilian Whaley, she writes, “It was the most vivid impression upon me as he (Don Rafael) knelt one day in the little south wing of the old church, which was filled with saints and holy images. Near the door of the little confessional
The Gravedigger of Old Town Marker and Grave Site image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 28, 2005
2. The Gravedigger of Old Town Marker and Grave Site
chamber, he leaned sideways against the wall of the room. He clasped his hands rigidly before him and grasped his rosary and crucifix. His head was thrown back. His eyes closed while agony and supplication imprinted themselves upon his brown rugged features. To complete the striking picture, a ray of sunlight streamed through the window, falling full upon his rapt unconscious face and unkempt hair, and bathing the kneeling figure with a beautiful silver halo.”
 
Erected 1995 by The Friends of El Campo Santo Cemetery.
 
Location. 32° 45.1′ N, 117° 11.606′ W. Marker is in San Diego, California, in San Diego County. Click for map. Marker is located at the El Campo Santo Cemetery in Old Town, Sacramento. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2400 Block of San Diego Avenue, San Diego CA 92110, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. El Campo Santo (The Holy Field) (within shouting distance of this marker); Adobe Chapel of The Immaculate Conception (within shouting distance of this marker); The Whaley House (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lt. George H. Derby (about 600 feet away); Old Ballast Point Lighthouse, San Diego (about 600 feet away); Lloyd T. Lowrey Plaza (about 800 feet away); Adobe Construction (approx. 0.2 miles away); Old Town San Diego (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in San Diego.
 
Also see . . .  The History of San Diego by William E. Smyth. (Submitted on October 19, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.)
 
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesNotable EventsNotable PersonsNotable PlacesSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 1,226 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement