I spend a lot of time in very, very Northern California. Not like Mendocino north, or even Emerald Triangle north.  More like STATE OF JEFFERSON north. This is a remote, rugged, gorgeous part of the state with some really interesting history. Some of the largest tribes in California live here, and white settlers have been pushing their way in since the Gold Rush.

There are a lot of cool, hidden sites up there and one of my FAVORITES is the Madame Gasquet Gravesite. You can find it off a nondescript road in the tiny town of Gasquet. Her tombstone is ornate and surrounded by an old Western style crib fence, and she shares the graveyard with two anonymous burials, and one murder victim.

Madame Madeleine Resnel Gasquet was married to Horace Gasquet, for whom the town is named. Horace migrated here from France in the 1850’s to look for gold. Finding none, he pivoted to selling supplies to miners. He bought 320 acres of land and constructed Gasquet Village. He owned a hotel, a bar, a winery, and a general store. He also built a toll road that connected Northern California to Oregon. Gasquet had business interests all over the area, including Happy Camp, CA and Waldo, OR.

The relationship between Madeleine and Horace is a bit of a mystery. Madeleine was originally married to Auguste Fournier, who lived in nearby Crescent City and operated a French Restaurant. At some point, Fournier went back to France and she became Madame (Mrs.) Gasquet. Contemporary accounts describe her as industrious, smart, and charming. She is credited with Gasquet’s success in his hospitality endeavors.

They are not, however, buried together. Horace has a plot in the Catholic cemetery in town, and Madeleine is buried in the remote location where she lived. Friends say that she loved this spot – a shady bluff overlooking the middle fork of the Smith River, and asked to be buried here. An apocryphal story says that she wanted to lie under French soil, so Horace had some imported and sprinkled on her grave.

A newspaper clipping showing a photo of Horace Gasquet and his wife Madame Gasquet

They seem like they’d be fun at parties

There are two other graves at the site, equally mysterious. One tombstone reads “Here Rests Michael OMeara. Born in Ireland, Murdered at Happy Camp.” A newspaper account from the 20th century reports that O’Meara worked for Horace Gasquet, and was murdered in a robbery. His remains were sent back so that the boss could give him a proper burial.

Nearby are two fenced off plots, one with a large wooden cross, and one with a small cross. The same reports claims that the burials belong to “an Indian and a child.” There are many indigenous people living in and around the area (this is Tolowa land), but given the prevalence of the “Indian Burial Ground” trope in American mythology, skepticism is warranted. It’s true that markers on children’s graves are often smaller, but it’s hard to know whether this inspired the legend or confirms it.

A tombstone for Madame Madeleine Gasquet
A series of grave sites under trees - the sites are fenced in with white pickets
A tombstone for Michael O'Meara
An unadorned wooden cross grave marker


To access the site, take North Fork Road. Turn left on Madame Gasquet Lane – you will see a sign directing you to the gravesite there. Madame Gasquet lane dead ends at a turnaround. Park there and take the trail on the right. There is a small sign marking it. Follow the trail to the end, you will see the white fences surrounding the gravesites.