I have loved visiting cemeteries since I was a child. It used to freak out my mom because she thought I was thinking about death too much but I was more curious about the lives of the people buried there. Through the years I have also been fascinated by the numerous head stones and grave markers. Please enjoy my fascination!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On a Mission....

I am a Photo Volunteer for http://www.findagrave.com/ . A photo volunteer is someone who is willing to take photos of headstones within a given zip code. If family members/friends live outside of the area of the cemetery, they can go to the specific memorial page on the Find A Grave website and request a photo of the headstone.

So, the past couple of weeks I had received some emails for photo requests. When I woke up yesterday, I wanted to go up to Oakmont Memorial Park, which is only about a 5 minute drive from here. I checked the website again and noticed that the photo requests were still unclaimed so I decided to claim the three I saw for this cemetery. Hubby grabbed his camera equipment (for his own project), I grabbed my camera and headstone information, and we were on our way.

Rain was moving in so it was cloudy and windy with light sprinkles. I did not mind it at all.

I found the three names I was looking for:

I even received a 'thank you' email from one of the requestors. He had seen his father's gravesite in years.

Here are other photos I took while wandering around:

Here are a couple of memorial benches:

The view from near the benches:

This is the top of a memorial with no name yet engraved on the marker:

The Gonzales Estate:

I am still trying to research the history behind the Gonzales Estate above. It is the largest memorial in the cemetery and there is only one urn in there.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

City of the Silent

Colma, California is not know for their live residents but more for who is laid to rest there. In 1900, San Francisco passed an ordinance which outlawed the construction of any more cemeteries in the city (because of increased property value). San Francisco then passed another ordinance in 1912 evicting all existing cemeteries from city limits. Basically anyone who passed away in San Francisco is buried in one of the cemeteries in Colma.
Robyn and I visited Cypress Lawn Memorial Park yesterday for a scheduled walking tour. It is about an hour drive for us but neither of us has been there before. About once a month, the Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation puts together walking tours and lectures, which are free to the public. They refer to Cypress Lawn as a 200 acre museum of art and history and after walking the tour yesterday, I agree!
Yesterday's topic was 'Gargoyles, Foo Dogs, and More: Interesting and Unusual Memorials'. Our docent was Terry Hamburg, who is the author of "Grand Entrances", a book on unique storefronts in San Francisco. Also helping with the tour was Martin S. Jacobs, Executive VP of Development of the Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation. http://www.cypresslawnheritagefoundation.com/

The tour started at the Noble Chapel, located on the east side of the main road thru Colma. The Noble Chapel was modeled after the St. Giles Church in Stokes Poges, England. There were about 12 of us ready to walk. They provided us with complimentary bottles of water for our trek.

Noble Chapel

One of the first sites we came to was for the Graves family. The unique part of this one is that they had a bench that had the image of the devil on the sides. This also had an eleborate marker.

We saw a lot of great craftsmanship in the various doors and stained glass windows.

Here are some of my favorites:

More of my photos can be found at: http://picasaweb.google.com/Liner89/CypressLawnMemorialParkColma#

The entire tour was about 2 hours and ended back at Noble Chapel. They had set out coffee, cookies, strawberries and grapes for us to munch on. (and yes.....I had 2 cookies....choco chip and oatmeal....so much for my Cleanse yesterday...lol).
After the tour, Robyn and I drove across the road to the west side to see the graves there. There were not as many ornate and large site as on the east side. We got back on the main road and decided to find the Catholic cemetery.
Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery is designed differently than Cypress Lawn - the word that came to mind was 'busy'. It was a lot of head stones really close together. As we were driving out I happened to see the name of DiMaggio. We stopped and got out and looked closer. It was the grave of Joe DiMaggio!
Robyn and I decided that we definitely need to see about doing a walking tour at Holy Cross and going back to Cypress Lawn for more exploring.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Walk in the Moonlight

Last night, Robyn and I went on a flashlight cemetery tour at the Alhambra Cemetery in Martinez. A couple of times a year the Historical Society conducts walking tours of this historical cemetery. There were two scheduled - 6:30 pm and then 8:00pm. We chose the early one. I am not sure what time in the tour I took the the above photo. Here is a link to their site: http://www.martinezhistory.org/html/cemetery_tour.html

Many of the early residents of our county and the city of Martinez are buried there. The estimate is that there is about 3,300 graves there but not all are accounted for. The original caretaker of the cemetery double and triple-booked plots without anyone knowing. He eventually ended up at San Quentin Prison and buried at the Catholic cemetery across the street.

We saw the grave of Mr. Nakatani - a Japanese immigrant who helped developed the first beefsteak tomato. He is know as The Tomato King. I tried to take a photo but I forgot to use my flash....lol.

Here are some images I took of some of the grave markers:
One of the original wood grave markers - others were destroyed in a fire.

A unique marker made from pipe and sheet metal

Not sure of the story of those buried here - just thought the marker was unique!

This Saturday we will be going to Colma for a walking cemetery tour there. The theme is 'Gargoyles, Foo Dogs, and More: Interesting and Unusual Memorials'. I will have my camera ready!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Woodmen of the World

I came across this marker at a local cemetery:

I looked up the origins of this type of grave markers and found a website about the Woodmen of the World.

The largest fraternal benefit society with open membership in the United States, Woodmen of the World was founded in Omaha, Neb., by Joseph
Cullen Root on June 6, 1890. From its humble beginnings more than a
century ago, Woodmen of the World has grown into a financial services
organization large enough to offer security, but small enough to still
care about each individual member.

Woodmen gravestones were originally intended to be a uniform design sent by the Home Office to local stonecutters, but not all the cutters followed the design. Some used their own interpretation of the Woodmen design which they felt was more appropriate.

The result was a wide range of designs that reflected members' personal
tastes and included elements that were symbolic of Woodmen ceremonies or rituals. A tree stump, part of the Society's logo, is the most common symbol used on gravestone designs. Many stand approximately four to five feet high. In one Kentucky cemetery, the gravestones started out as a modest Woodmen stump and grew larger with each additional burial. One gravestone is three feet wide with seven branches.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bad blogger...

Holy smokes....my last post here was last October??? I really need to get back on track! I have not been to any notable cemteries lately. Hopefully will be at Cypress Lawn in October - hopefully not permanently...just for a tour!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Update on the Gothic Chapel

The gothic "chapel" shown below is the final resting place of Frederick William Delger, often referred to as "Oakland's first millionaire." He was in the shoe business.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Back in Action!

It has been a while since I have posted....bad me! Anywho...today I went on a walking tour over at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland an will soon have more photos and stories to post!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How Goth...

This is one of my favorite designs at MVC - the gothic chapel "look". This particular one is on Millionaire's Row - not sure who is buried there though. On my next trip out there, I will have to do more research!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Like an Egyptian...

There are a few of these pyramids around MVC. When all of the pyramid discoveries in Egypt were being publicized way back when, these crypts became popular!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A lot of what?

These are located at MVC - not in Millionaires Row but I am sure the families paid a bit to have these. I did have to take a close up of the names on the first structure - it made me giggle when I first read the name really fast. Just my weird mind at work! I think Althof & Bahls were bookbinders in San Francisco in the late 1800's.

Drama, Drama, Drama....

These are photos from the Ghirardelli plot at MVC in Oakland. Originally the family had their plot at the Catholic cemetery next door (St. Mary's) but the story goes that in 1879, Domingo Ghirardelli's (founder of Ghirardelli Chocolate) teenage granddaughter, Aurelia, was on her death bed and a priest was called to administer Last Rites. The priest refused to come. One explanation was that there was bad weather but another one says that the reason why he did not come was that he felt that Domingo was not giving enough financial support to the Church. In any case, the girl did not get her last rites before her death and the family was very upset.
To get back at the Church, Domingo went to MVC and had this white, marbled mausoleum made with the Masonic emblem over the door (a no-no for Catholics!). Sometime in 1890 when the work was complete on the structure, Domingo and his sons took a wagon over to St. Mary's in the middle of the night, removed the four bodies from the family plot there and had them reinterred in their new home. This plot is located on Millionaire's Row. Nothing like a little grave diggin' in the middle of the night to make things interesting....lol.

Hooker Memorial

The final resting place for wayward working girls...lol. Seriously, from what I remember the docent on the tour telling us, this was actually bought by the Hooker family and then sold back to MVC to be a final resting place for those less fortunate. From peeking through the gate, it looks like it holds niches for urns, but, I think it still stands empty.