18 March 2014

Bay Area Cemetery Tours

Rose Hill Cemetery, 2001
Rose Hill Cemetery, 2001
Joe asked me a while ago if I'd guest blog here.  Hope this announcement fits the bill...
I spent last year's Nanowrimo working on a book about the historic cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area. I've visited a lot of them, but not nearly all, so I made myself a list of places I need to see. Ideally, I could find someone to give me a tour, show me the highlights, and ground my research for each one.
In early February, Annetta Black -- mastermind of the Obscura Society in San Francisco -- wrote to ask if I'd consider giving cemetery tours for the group.
I am qualified to lead cemetery wanders, but not tours. My knowledge of our local graveyards is broad, rather than deep. However, I would be thrilled to arrange tours for anyone interested in learning more about cemeteries -- and now I am.
Rhoads_rose_hill_3This Sunday, March 23, the Obscura Society is touring one of my favorite local cemeteries: the Rose Hill Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. This cemetery was almost completely obliterated by vandals and the well-intentioned preservation tactics of early park employees. It has been painstaking puzzled back together through the love and service of the more recent rangers and historians.
The cemetery is about all that survives of the five coal-mining ghost towns on the eastern slopes of Mount Diablo. It's a reminder of how different the past was from the present, even though it's barely 150 years distant.
Tickets are still available, if you'd like to explore for yourself. Here's the link: http://www.atlasobscura.com/events/obscura-society-sf-rose-hill-cemetery-tour
In April, we're going to explore Mare Island's ship-building history and the first naval cemetery on the West Coast. I'll let you know when those tickets are available.
Looking past the headstones at Alcatraz Island
Looking past the headstones at Alcatraz Island
Now I'm working on the May tour. I think we're looking at Memorial Day weekend, so it will be a tour closer in to San Francisco and Oakland. I was thinking maybe the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio, which will be pretty with all the graves decorated with flags.
In the works are tours of St. John's Cemetery in San Mateo, the Rural Cemetery in Santa Rosa, and a walking tour of the vanished cemeteries of San Francisco. I'm going to lead that one myself.
Is there anywhere you've been particularly interested in touring? Any Bay Area graveyard that caught your eye that you'd like to know more about?

21 July 2013

Call for writers and contributors

There is no doubt that this page has been in limbo for awhile.  It was once a great place to come and get a story and we had regular contributors.  We understand that life gets in the way sometimes and we all get busy.  If you do any cemetery exploring, write about cemeteries, are in to genealogy or have any other contributions you'd like to make to this page please feel free to contact me and we'll see about making you a page author.  Keep in mind any pictures you share must be your own or you must have permission from the artist prior to use.  Anything that gets posted here automatically gets posted to our Facebook page which is nearing 5000 members.  Once I get settled I plan to regularly begin contributing again...Thanks for your help and keep exploring...

22 March 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

"In the Hope of a Glorious Ressurection. Were laid to rest February 24, 1751 on this spot then the centre of this cemetery the mortal remains of Juliana Nitschmann whose maiden name was Haberland, wife of Bishop John Nitschmann and a distinguished deaconess of the church. She was born at Schoenauin Moravia July 30, 1712. A lineal descendant of faithful members of the Ancient Brethren Unity, the daughter of fearless confessors amidst bonds and imprisonment of the pure gospel of Christ fleeing for conscience sake to Herrnhut in Saxory. She served with singless of heart. Her God and the Church in Germany, England, and America, and died on the 22 of February 1751."

I took a walk after church service at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, PA. Walking on the road that winds its way through the cemetery, I found this one in the middle of the road. My mind said to itself, "AKWARD!" So, just like in any good old fashioned cemetery explorer way, I took a photograph.

Doing some extra investigating, I found the Bethlehem Digital History Project. There they have community records about deaths and anything else you can imagine about the history of Bethlehem. A copy of the death notice, translated into English from German, states:

Juliana Nitschmannin, born Haberland, our dearest and most true Mother of Pennsylvania, was torn from us in a sudden but very blessed death at about ten-thirty this morning here in Bethlehem, to our greatest sadness and general regret. Her flight home occurred quite quickly, and was, for us, very unexpected. She had been ailing for some time, but this morning she appeared to be well and went about her usual business. Just a few minutes before her blessed end she lay on her bed. As she bent her head, she ran her hand over her brow and said "Ey," (as if she wanted to say: "Ey, what’s becoming of me?"). With that she let her arm fall. The body was dead and the soul in eternal life, with the lovely reception-Loosung: "Hail! Come in the House!"

She was born in Moravia on July 10, 1712, in the village of Schönau, out of the remnants of Brother Riechlein, which had lain in the ashes over 100 years, and came as an exile with her parents and siblings into Herrnhut on June 14, 1728, after surviving many dangers and hardships. There, in the year 1729, she was confirmed—or taken into the Gemeine—according to the custom of the day, and soon thereafter, she enjoyed the body and blood of her husband* for the first time. She was hitherto a blessed little Choir-Heart in her Single Band, and decided, along with the small number of maidens who were then among us, to form the blessed Maidens-Band. In 1734, in October, she entered into marriage with our dearest heart Johann Nitschmann, according to the will of the Little Lamb and the advice of the Brethren. The Lamb granted them seven children, of whom four sons are still living; three children, however, have already gone to the Little Lamb.

In the years 1737-1738, until Easter 1739, she stayed with her husband in Jena, where he was sent with our dearest heart Christian Renatus for the service of the learned and the salvation of the same in the university. In 1739, she became an eldress in the Gemeine in Herrnhaag. She was with the Pilgrim-Gemeine in Geneva in 1741; after her return she was with her husband in Marienborn (where they helped initiate the marriages of the groups destined for Pennsylvania in 1741 and 1743), until in 1744 she was once again was installed as eldress of Herrnhaag. She moved there in 1745, where she remained with her husband for two years. In 1747 and 1748, she was with the Pilgrim-Gemeine in Hennersdorf, at the time that the royal commission was held there. From there she began her journey to Pennsylvania, via Herrnhaag, Zeist, and London. Shortly before her departure from London she was declared "Mother of Pennsylvania" by the Pilgrim-Gemeine. The embarkation from London occurred in February 1749, with a Sea-Congregation of some 120 Brethren, and in May she came here to Bethlehem with her dear husband and the remaining Brethren. Here, her first and principal work then was to introduce into marriage the little group who came with her, and they were married soon after their arrival. Almost all the time that she spent in this land she was weak and sickly in her body, which suffered from consumption, until finally the soul had to leave her and us, and suddenly flew to the cleft of the Little Lamb. Her soul-less and exhausted body was taken to our Hutberg at dusk on the evening of 13/24 February, amongst an unusually numerous company, and lowered into the cool earth.

Bethlehem is just becoming more interesting as I go along.

13 February 2011

Marie Holmes - Lady of the Night

In the lovely city of Santa Cruz, CA stands the Evergreen Historic Cemetery where many California pioneers and prominent citizens in Santa Cruz history are buried. Amidst those people lies a small grave I came across strictly by chance. I happened to notice a film tube sitting next to wall containing a list of several names who had found the tube. A geocache if you will. Geocaching is a hide and seek game played with tiny containers or trinkets and GPS systems where coordinates are given and it is your job to find whatever item is left in that location. I found this strictly by chance and was not there for geocaching. Next to the geocache I noticed a plaque on a grave. The grave of Marie Holmes. I will not go into detail about who she was or the circumstances surrounding her death because there is already and excellent writeup on her on the Santa Cruz County Website (click here) . After doing a little reading on the area it seems that houses of "Ill-Repute" were all over the area. Women would come from all over the area to find that the opportunities they thought were there were not really going to come to fruition so they'd be forced to turn to prostitution for what little money they could get. It turns out that prostitution was so rampant that several books were written on the area and it's ties to prostitution. On my next trip out I will try and document some of these older areas where the houses once stood.

Lady of the Night
Here lie the remains of Marie Holmes a lady of the night who on the evening of May 5, 1898, met a lonely and untimely end with the quaffing of carbolic acid. Born in England she resided in San Francisco, Salinas and Watsonville before spending her last few months in Santa Cruz, where she died in the streets outside the Merrill Brothers Saloon.

Dedicated September 18, 1997
The Museum of Art and History Santa Cruz

So yes people this is my return to blogging and I apologize for the lack of updates for a while. Truth is I've been working on other projects such as my website and basically just getting through every day life. I'm not sure how often this site will be updated but please follow this blog because it will definitely be updated more often from now on just not as often as before. You can always find me on Facebook if you really want to. As for the other authors Jeane has written a few books since the last time she wrote. Darkowho was an occasional author has published a couple cemetery books. And Becky has been busy with every day life as well. Thank you all for your support...

25 September 2010

William French

This is a memorial for William French who lost his life on 13th July 1896 by saving a dog from drowning in Highgate Ponds North London. The dog survived, alas Mr French did not. The monument was erected in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in commemoration of his brave deed and paid for by public subscription.


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