Some remarkable people rest at Ventura’s Ivy Lawn

Actress Bessie Eyton is buried at Ivy Lawn.

by Richard Senate

A visit to the Ivy Lawn Cemetery is a journey back to the very roots of our history because many unique and special people rest here. As the fall Season is here cemeteries and graveyards are highlighted in advertisings and media at this time of year so a look at who rests at our 1917 era cemetery. The list is long and includes some amazing people. I will start with the most famous of the lot, once the richest man in Ventura County and a true mover and shaker from the world of politics.

1. US Senator Thomas R. Bard (1841-1915) The senator built Port Hueneme and sponsored a young George Patton for West Point. He was buried at his Berylewood Estate (Bard Mansion) but moved here. He was an early oilman and founded Union Oil of California. The only US Senator from Ventura County.

2. Congressman General William Vandever (1811- 1845) Union General who served under General Sherman in the Civil War and was part of the capture of Atlanta. Moved to Ventura with his daughter Florence in 1884 and ran for Congress. He helped Yosemite become a National Park and a mountain was named for him. He even advocated that California be divided into two states. Remains moved from Ventura Memorial Park to Ivy Lawn.

3 Congressman Marion Cannon (1834-1920) Reformer, served in the 53rd Congress as a member of the now defunct Populist Party.

4. State Assemblyman Charles R. “Chuck” Imbrect, (1949-2000) Two term State Assemblyman and lawyer attended Ventura High School (a classmate of mine). He ran for State Senator but lost.

From the world of the arts.

5. Actress Ethel Clayton (1882-1966) She began her film career in 1909 with the movie Justified. A very beautiful starlet she aged well and made the transition into talkies playing wealthy, snobbish matrons in such films as Alan Ladd’s The Blue Dahlia. She was in 147 films including World War One Red Cross film The Volunteer where she played herself!

6. Actress Bessie Eyton (1890-1965) She became a star on the New York stage before making the transition into silent films. She made her mark in western films playing the romantic lead to Tom Mix (but his heat belonged to his horse). Her best know roles were in The Thundering Herd and The Face of Fear. Her last film was another western The Girl of Gold in 1925 She was one of the silent stars that didn’t make the transition into talking pictures after some 85 features.

7. Actor John “Johnny” Leal (1905 -1980) A little person, he was blessed by a great singing voice that helped him find jobs on the circus and vaudeville stage . He played at the 1933 World’s Fair and then found work in Hollywood cast in the film An Angel comes to Brooklyn and as a Munchkin and flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz.

8 Voice Actor Knox Manning (1905-1996) Voice Actor for many radio shows such as “Congo Bill”, “The Desi Arnez Show,” “The Phantom,” “Batman” and “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”.

From the world of Sports

9. Ballplayer Charlie Hall (1887-1943) Born in Ventura he started playing local baseball making it into the big leagues as a pitcher at the age of 21. Played for The Cincinnati Reds. He was called “The Sea Lion” for his booming voice. When he retired from baseball he joined the Ventura Police Department.

10. Ballplayer Fred Snodgrass (1887-1979) A noted outfielder he played for the New York Giants. He played in three pennant games and three World Series’. In the1912 World series he dropped the ball in the tenth inning giving the victory to the Red Sox. The next year he redeemed himself with a single important catch that won the game.

11. Football player Eric Turner (1968-2000) Defensive linebacker he played for the Cleveland Browns and The Oakland Raiders 30 interceptions and played in 109 games. Tragically died at age 31.

The world of design

12. Alexander Sarantos Tremolis (1914-1991) Car designer worked for Cord Automotive, Duesenberg, Ford as well as took part in the design of the innovative Tucker Automobile. Later worked with NASA on the Space Shuttle program.

Ventura’s greatest disaster

13. The Mass grave of the victims of the Saint Francis dam failure and flood on March 13, 1928. Over 500 people last their lives that terrible night. Many of the bodies, battered beyond recognition, were recovered at the Santa Clara delta, they were buried at Ivy Lawn. Only a few were identified.

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