By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
If you ask Dr. Keith Arledge if there is anything macabre about Magnolia Memorial Park he’ll chuckle and say no, not really.
Arledge, the proprietor of the seven-acre cemetery for the last 10 years, is more concerned about the upkeep of the grounds and helping those in their time of need than he is with ghosts.
Since he’s been the owner of the park, located on Magnolia Street in Garden Grove just south of Chapman Avenue, there hasn’t been any damage done to the gravesites and as far as he knows, no ghost seekers, séance holders or anything unearthly other than rumor.
Although, according to Arledge, the rumors about the cemetery, officially established in 1876, are pretty interesting.
“I was told, by the former owner, that a suspect of the Black Dahlia murder is buried somewhere on the property,” said Arledge, “I don’t know how true that is, or even the name as it’s been so many years . . . I know the former owner must have told me at some time, but it has slipped my mind.”
The Black Dahlia murder is an unsolved case from Los Angeles in 1947 of the gruesome murder of Elizabeth Short, an aspiring young actress in early Hollywood. Short’s body was found in a vacant lot in a Crenshaw neighborhood, severed in half.
The cemetery dates back to the founding decades of Garden Grove and Westminster and is the last resting place of some pretty notable people, namely the Lamson [Lampson] and Chapman families who were some of the original pioneers of the area.
The sole local fatality of the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, Elizabeth Pollard, 13, is also laid to rest at Magnolia. Pollard was in the auditorium of Garden Grove High at the time of the quake, which collapsed the entryway and killed her.
Although buried at Magnolia, Pollard’s spirit is said by some ghost enthusiasts to still haunt Garden Grove High School’s old main building (now Heritage Hall).
A surprisingly long list of Civil War veterans, as well as World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans are buried on the cemetery premises. However, one of the dead goes without a marker.
Confederate soldier Loving Coker is buried in an unmarked grave at the park, something Arledge thinks was done because of political tension over mixing Confederate soldiers with Union soldiers in burial.
Coker is thought to have been a very decorated soldier, who won his medals for valor in battle.
There are other Coker family members buried in the cemetery. Other Coker family members now reside in Huntington Beach.
The park is a small one, tucked between churches and across the street from a Buddhist temple.
There are weathered pillars with young names from long ago on them, stones in the ground whose names are barely legible. A grouping of children, many of them Japanese, rest near the back.
There are other markers that leave little clue as to who is under them and when they got there.
If what Arledge said is correct, there are no uneasy souls that stay in Magnolia.
Just those who wish to be left to their rest.