Academy Cemetery honors pioneer families with monument

The new Academy Cemetery monument honoring the pioneer families.

By Jordan Severns, Reporter

The Clovis Cemetery District unveiled a monument on Saturday, July 16 at the Academy Cemetery to honor the pioneer families who paved the way for past and present generations.

The unveiling came during a memorial dedication held for these prominent families to recognize their contributions to the Clovis community.

On the breezy and beautiful Saturday morning, several generations of Clovis families brought to life the 10-acre cemetery northeast of Clovis, where approximately 100 people paid their respects at the memorial dedication. Many of the people were members of pioneer families and Clovis city representatives.

The beautiful stone monument fits in perfectly with the larger headstones that are placed amongst the foothills flowing through Academy Cemetery. Many of the headstones are polished granite while other headstones have a more dated touch, with personal items such as Clovis High School baseball caps, bouquets, and photographs of those who have passed.

Stan King, of the Clovis Cemetery District, introduced many of the families in attendance.

“Usually, the Academy Cemetery has a solemn atmosphere,” King said. “But, today a different occasion, a happy occasion has brought us here.”

Benjamin Baxter Baley, an 8-year-old boy, was the first person interred at the Academy Cemetery in Clovis. His life was lost to an illness in November 1867 and his parents William and Nancy Baley chose to bury their child under an Oak tree. The inscription on the monument tells his story and how his future descendants preserved the land and donated it to the Clovis Cemetery District in 1948.

“The stone symbolizes the strength of the pioneer families, and is dedicated to their memory,” King said.

The Academy Cemetery is the final resting home of 125 military servicemen dating back to the Civil War to current time. Also interred at the Academy Cemetery are all Clovis residents that include judges, constables, businessmen, and cattlemen. The Clovis Cemetery District has six cemeteries under their jurisdiction, which stretches from Highway 41 in Fresno County to Inyo County, bordering Huntington Lake. The Academy Cemetery is recognized by the Fresno County Historic Landmarks and Advisory Commission.

Debbie Poochigian, Clovis District Supervisor, was also in attendance and gave a speech. She reminded the younger generations how easy they had it compared to the original settlers in this area.

“These settlers were tough, and adventurous, they worked hard. Most of all they had great faith. Their risk-taking laid the foundation for our future generations,” Poochigian said. “I don’t think my generation measures up. They had the faith, the hope for a better life, and hope for their children.”