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Local author talks about his new book on Sylvan Cemetery

Jim Monteton, Citrus Heights
Jim Monteton, pictured in his home office with a copy of a book he wrote about Sylvan Cemetery. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–
Sylvan Cemetery is the resting place of thousands who lived, loved, and left their mark engraved in stone in Citrus Heights. Headstones include the names of nearly 1,400 veterans dating as far back as the Civil War, along with Fred and Julia Rusch, who donated the land for Rusch Park, and the city’s first mayor, Bill Hughes.

Dating back more than a century-and-a-half to its founding in 1862, Sylvan Cemetery holds a treasure trove of local history and two local authors have joined together to share some of that history in a 150-page book published last year titled, “Sylvan Cemetery: A Living History.”

“There has got to be a story here,” author Jim Monteton, 75, told The Sentinel he recalled thinking as he wandered around grave stones in the cemetery and considered compiling the book. “Every one of these people had an involvement in the community.”

What transpired was nearly three years of research and work, with help from another local author, Mary Lou Anderson. Together, their research led them into the stories about some of the oldest grave sites, dating back to the 1800s.

Stories uncovered behind the graves include some of tragedy, others of war service, and others of love, friendship, and intrigue. A section of the book is also devoted to “historic families,” with names and short highlights of prominent families — like the Van Maren, Cross and Rusch families — who were part of the area’s early history.

The process of researching and compiling the book came with several challenges, Monteton said, including some graves where nothing could be found out about the name listed on the tombstone, and a “mystery family plot” where the grave site didn’t match any of the names of the family members buried there.

Through his research, Monteton said he was able to find the damaged grave marker of a Civil War soldier who had been buried at the cemetery. He was able to make a new grave marker and hosted a ceremony honoring the soldier, which he said was well attended.

Monteton, who currently serves as chair of the Sylvan Cemetery District Board of Trustees, moved to Citrus Heights with his wife in 1997 after retiring from work in the telecommunications sector. Copies of “Sylvan Cemetery: A Living History” can be found for sale on Amazon and also directly from the author.

For a limited time, a free copy of the book is also available to Sentinel readers who purchase a one-year gift subscription for a friend or family member. (You can also buy the gift subscription for yourself if you’re not already a paid subscriber.) Orders placed by Dec. 23 will receive a hand-delivered copy of the book by Christmas Day (Citrus Heights addresses only). Click here to order a gift subscription.

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