Reporting Anjali Hemphill
EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — A century-old mystery at an El Dorado County cemetery was solved by a woman on a mission armed with the Internet.
Jo Thomas knows a lot about the man who is buried in what was an unmarked.
“At the time he died, he was supposedly the oldest man in the county,” she said.
But they never met, and she has no family relation to him whatsoever.
Two years ago, a Massachusetts woman posted a request on findagrave.com. She wanted a picture of her third great-grand uncle’s grave.
“When I read his obituary, I just thought this is fascinating, this guy just fascinated me,” Thomas said.
The Placerville woman wanted to help. She learned that the grave she was looking for belonged to Mason Brown, a man who came to California in 1849 from Maine during the Gold Rush.
“I think he probably had somewhat of a lonely life without his wife,” Thomas said. “She died back there, and it’s just sad they never got together again.”
But when Thomas discovered the spot where he was buried, there was no gravestone.
“I thought before I die, I want to make sure this man, who’s waited 111 years, has a tombstone,” she said.
Brown’s relatives weren’t able to pitch in, so for two years, Thomas saved up, and eventually had a new gravestone made and placed at Brown’s final resting place.
“To do that for somebody that’s not even related to you is really very generous and kind,” said Kyla, the relative who posted the request. “You don’t find people who do that very often.”
The two plan to remain lifelong, cross-country friends.
Meanwhile cemetery administrators say there are several hundred other unmarked graves in El Dorado County alone.
Thomas says she’s now setting up a fund to provide gravestones for people who can’t afford them for their family members.