Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Pink Lady of Yorba Cemetery, Santa Ana, etc.

They say that every two to five years, on June 15th, the ghost of Alvina de Los Reyes (a.k.a. the "Pink Lady") rises from her grave in Yorba Cemetery. They say the young woman died in a buggy accident on her way back from a dance in 1910. And they say her spirit wears the same pink formal dress she wore on the night of her death.

This story has become so popular that hundreds of people will sometimes gather around the cemetery on June 15th to watch for the Pink Lady's return.

A look at the County's burial records tell us that one Alvina E. de Los Reyes did indeed die on Dec. 2, 1910, at age 31. She was the wife of Francisco de Los Reyes, and she is buried at Yorba Cemetery. However, Alvina died of pneumonia -- not injuries from a buggy accident. So it also seems unlikely that she died in a formal gown.

But the next piece of the story is even more interesting. At least a few decades ago, Yorba Linda librarian Mary Ruth Erickson (now retired) needed a Halloween tale for children's story time. She put together bits of various old ghost stories she'd heard over the years and applied them to local sites and local family names. She created the Pink Lady story. (I suppose pink was chosen because El Toro Memorial Park already has a spectral Blue Lady, and Capistrano has a phantom woman in white.) Amazingly, by the late 1980s the story had grown into something larger, and was treated as "old folklore." Various Yorba Linda Star articles about the Pink Lady are posted online.
The photo above shows Yorba Cemetery around 1969, before it was completely surrounded by tract housing. (Photo courtesy Orange County Archives.)
The City of Santa Ana has already received 28 Mills Act applications this year, which is really impressive progress. One wonders if the City will even know what to do with them all. Most of the new activity is coming from the Floral Park area, so kudos to the folks north of 17th.
. has added a search function, so you can find the exact hazy memory you were looking for. Topics of recent musings include Garden Grove and Westminster in the 1950s and 1960s, Glenn L. Martin Elementary School in Santa Ana, Saddleback Park, Irvine in the 1970s, Jack Dutton's Jungle Gardens in Anaheim, and the Dreger Clock.
The OTPA historic homes tour of Orange this weekend was a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone involved!


Rob Z. said...

This is a fantastic blog you have going here. I'm giving some serious thought to starting a California History podcast and have been collecting some stories of interest. I remember the Pink Lady legend from my childhood living in Yorba Linda and found this entry. I'm curious to know - what is your source for the story about Mary Ruth Erickson? Did she tell you this story herself, or did you read it somewhere? It's the first time I've heard this claim and everywhere else I've seen it mentioned, they point back to you. I find this explanation for the legend almost as interesting as the legend itself!

J'aime Rubio, Author said...

This is absolutely fabulous that you debunked the story!! I do that on my blog and it is so nice to see others doing the research to tell the story accurately. People need to remember, those buried in various cemeteries were once alive just like you and I, and their stories should be told accurately and with respect. Kudos to you for doing just that. Btw- almost every area has a tale of a woman haunting an area. I debunked the White Witch of Niles Canyon too. Please stop by my blog and check it out. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed this post!-- J'aime Rubio, author

Chris Jepsen said...

J'aime: Thanks! If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy this blurb I wrote recently for Orange Coast magazine, on another local non-haunting:

Rob: My thanks to you too! Yes, I've spoken with Mary Ruth Erickson about it, but I first knew this story thanks to historian Phil Brigandi. She wrote the whole history of this thing down in detail for Phil, and I hope he turns it into a more indepth article (not just one of my piddly blog posts) someday.

Anonymous said...

I still don't know y know one knows the story of glenn elementary my school it was haunted by alot of ghosts or just five ghosts the main ones were nick and anna.