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Happy 140th Birthday, Tremont

Hi.  I’m Walking Bob, and I’ve already shared my attraction to historic cemeteries in my November 12, 2010 “Meet Me at the Cemetery” in Davis Life Magazine.  Today I want to share information about what I thought was a South Davis cemetery when I first encountered it a couple of years ago.  It turns out that the Tremont Cemetery and Tremont Church are actually considered to be part of Dixon in Solano County, even though they’re less than five miles south of Chiles Road.   This is a special time for the Tremont Church, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary on Sunday, May 1 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

In 1863, members of the “Tremont Mite Society” began fundraising to build a church in the area then known as Tremont.  They took their name from a Bible story about a widow who was honored for giving the “least coin” minted at that time, because that was all she had.  The members of the Tremont Mite Society put those little “mites” together, brought in lumber by schooner through the nearby community of Maine Prairie and built a church that was dedicated on May 28, 1871.  Descendants of that group will be on hand Sunday to share stories and talk about the history of the Tremont Church and Cemetery.

Tremont was initially a Presbyterian Church called Tremont Westminster Church and was served by visiting pastors until it brought in Pastor Alexander Fairbairn who served from 1873 to 1876.  Regular services continued at the church through 1912 when it was determined that there just weren’t enough parishioners for the little church to continue.  The Tremont Mite Society took care of the church, and there were still occasional weddings and funerals held there for many years.  In 1929, the society turned over ownership to the Silveyville Cemetery District, and they continue to jointly maintain the facilities.  There is also an onsite caretaker who oversees the property to prevent vandalism of the historic site.

The Tremont Cemetery has long been one of my favorite places for sitting and meditating while watching the birds, insects and a good collection of dragonflies I’ve found enjoying the property.  It has always been thought-provoking for me to consider the metamorphosis of dragonflies, while sitting among the historic graves of so many early settlers of Yolo and Solano Counties.

You will find the graves of people who were there when Davisville was beginning and people who are still commemorated in street and place names around the area.  I mentioned the church being just a few miles south of Chiles Road, and there were descendents of the Chiles family in the cemetery.

My walks around South Davis have often taken me by the corner of Lillard and Drummond, so a grave marker that had Henry R. Lillard, who died in 1885, on one side and Elizabeth Drummond, who died in 1900, on the other caught my eye.  Members of other pioneering families who made major contributions to the Tremont community, like the Hyde family who donated two acres of land to build the church, can also be found there.

One of the people who will be celebrated on Sunday is Thelma Dietrich, who is sensitive about her age but remembers attending Sunday School at the church back in the early 1900’s.   The Tremont Mite Society still thrives with about fifty members, and they meet often in people’s homes.  Every other year they meet at the church and the meeting which celebrates the 140th Anniversary, will be a special gathering.  There aren’t many opportunities to actually get inside this historic church, so don’t miss your chance on May 1.

The church and cemetery, which even includes old wooden grave markers, can be reached from Davis by taking Mace Boulevard south past Montgomery, turning right on Tremont Road and traveling a short distance west to 8290 Tremont, on the left side of the road. From Dixon, take Vaughn road east from Dixon, turn north on Runge Road, then turn right and travel east on Tremont to 8290 Tremont Road.

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