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Fight For Merced Cemetery

Veterans and lawmakers are fighting to restore graves that lie underneath a two-lane Merced County road. Hamilton Machado says ten graves lie beneath the road, including that of Manuel Silva, an apparent Union Army veteran of the Civil War. Machado and others are fighting to restore the Cottonwood Cemetery, which has suffered more than a half-century of neglect. Machado says more graves lie in farmer’s field beyond a chain-link fence. Merced County paved Cottonwood Road in 1953. By then, the cemetery, which opened in 1877, had deteriorated. Burials there stopped in 1920. Machado says county officials knew the paving project put the road atop the dead and did it anyway.