29 November 2009

Ma. S. O. De Arguello?

So you're probably wondering just like I was. What's a Ma. S. O. de Arguello? Well after about an hour of research and several different Google searches I finally found out. Maria Soledad Ortega de Arguello. I see a lot of abbreviations for names on gravestones or in this case monuments but without the power of the internet I may have never figured this one out. Maria was the grand daughter of Sgt. Ortega of the Portola Expedition which was Spain's first attempt to explore Alta California and allegedly the first European to see the San Francisco Bay. At the age of 25 in 1822 she married Luis Antonio Arguello and married into one of the most influential families in early California History. Luis succeeded his father as governor of California and became the first native of Alta California to serve as governor under the rule of the Mexican government and the first native of California to hold that position. Luis never lived on Rancho de las Pulgas but his family moved there after his death in 1830. Rancho de las Pulgas has now become 5 cities in Northern California. It now forms the cities of San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Atherton and Menlo Park.

I found it interesting that Maria is buried at Santa Clara mission cemetery while Luis is buried at Mission Dolores in San Francisco. I searched through my pictures and happened to have a picture of Luis' grave from when I visited Mission Dolores for a school project on missions for my girlfriend's daughter. I had no idea at the time that I would one day be able to connect him to someone else. With most of my earlier pictures I wasn't as interested in the history behind who was buried as I was the marker itself. I now find myself saying "I need to go back there and get more information." I'm just glad I keep my photos organized enough to be able to go back and see if I have that one crucial link...

Memorial plaques for A B Pite, West Norwood cemetery London.











Victorian architect Arthur Beresford Pite is buried in West Norwood cemetery South London. His grave sustained much damage over the years; the copper inscription plaques are missing and there is a great deal of subsidence.

Pite was the architect responsible for many wonderful buildings including Burlington Arcade, Christ Church Brixton, Institute of Chartered Accountants, 30 Euston Square, All Souls School Marylebone and Holy Trinity Church Clapham. His works, most of which survive today, and years spent teaching and lecturing at The Royal College of Art have shaped the landscape and minds of many.

I have carried out much research on Pite having been the Facilities manager in his Euston Square building, which I had Grade 2 special listed due to its significant architectural importance.

On 28th November 2009 I unveiled a plaque marking the 75th anniversary of Pite’s death. Wearing traditional Victorian mourning dress I delivered a speech at the graveside about the life and works of Pite and the grave restoration project for which I am raising funds. As there are currently no visible inscriptions or identifying features on the grave, I wanted people to be able to find it easily and the name Arthur Beresford Pite architect and educator to once more be known.

27 November 2009

Freaky Friday

What makes this a very freaky tombstone is two things.

1) It's a portrait.
2) The way it is cracked. Looks like an evil Mona Lisa smile.


Her eyes don't help it out either.

That's a cute jacket she has on though.

26 November 2009

That Thing Thursday

While I was doing more family grave hunting, I found this little guy hanging on by Hill Church.
I think it is a stick figure. Either way, it was ugly and I didn't want to touch it.

Bugs are creepy.

25 November 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Julius Beer, Highgate cemetery, UK.




The mausoleum with a pyramid top in Highgate cemetery, London is that of Julius Beer (1836-1880.) Beer was born into poverty in Frankfurt and determined to make his fortune. He dealt on the London Stock Exchange and became proprietor of The Observer newspaper. However, being Jewish and a foreigner and having earned his wealth by commercial success rather than inheritance, he always felt ostracised by Victorian high society.

The mausoleum was built by Italian craftsmen and cost £5000 then, £2-£3 million in today's terms. At 1000ft above sea level, the mausoleum looms over most of Highgate's residents. Inside, the newly restored sculpture is of his daughter Ada. The likeness of the little girl being comforted by an angel was copied from her death mask when Ada died as a child. The ceiling is decorated with gold leaf. It took three months to restore the monument in recent years at a cost of £42K. The interior of the mausoleum is not normally open to visitors.




23 November 2009

Max Hess Jr. (1911-1968)

When I visited Grandview Cemetery in Allentown, PA, I saw these mausoleums which just made me absolutely giddy. I took a picture of this on. I got it developed and I noticed the inside was very plain. What got my attention was who was buried in it.

Max Hess Jr, the second owner of one of the greatest stores in Allentown, PA called Hess' Brothers. I ran it from 1932-1968.
In 1953, the B.C. Forbes & Sons book, America’s Twelve Master Salesmen, Hess is on there as the second. If you have an hour, I recommend you watch the PBS documentary on Hess' called Hollywood on Hamilton. You can even read up on the store here.

By the way, if you click on the picture of the inside, Max Hess Jr is buried on the bottom left.

22 November 2009

Gloomy Sunday

Today I'm not really in the mood for talking to much. My mind is drawing up blanks. However, I wanted to share some pictures with you that I took on Sundays. That's how bored I am. I went through all of my pictures and looked to see which ones were taken on Sundays. So here is my Gloomy Sunday.











More cemetery portraits.






















Following on from Deez wonderful photos, here are a few recent ones I took in London cemeteries including a shot of a whole family which was rather sad.
























20 November 2009

Freaky Friday

I was running around Hill Church in Landis Store and I was trying to find my dad's family tree. I got some really good pictures of the old cemetery. Behind the church there was a really old tombstone with a really bad cement job.

At a quick glance, it looks like blood or someone slapped paint on it or something but when you click on the picture, you can see that the top half was cracked and that it was fixed.

Freaky Friday

Not much in a cemetery freaks me out more than having a picture on your grave stone. There's something about knowing who is buried there that makes it more personal. I don't want to have a personal relationship with the person buried nor do I need to know what they looked like before death. The newer ones don't bother me as much as the older ones for some reason. It seems that the old clothes and old styles they had back then are what does it for me. Nowadays the families seem to find the worst picture possible to put on the grave of a loved one whereas back then everyone looked so stern and serious. Following are a couple examples of the ones that kind of creep me out.

This one wasn't so bad but looking at it I think it's mostly their eyes.













Ok this one freaked me out just a little. It appeared to be almost painted on.













Pictures of kids are always scary to me. Any horror movie I've ever seen with a kid in it has freaked me out. The Shining, Pet Cemetery, The Grudge all little kids and all a little freaky.















I would like to give my girlfriend credit for all but one of these pictures here. It seems I don't have too many of them. We usually visit the cemetery together and when I compared our folders she has a lot more of these than I do. Matter of fact I only have that one up there that I said was painted. I think if I see a picture of someone I usually try to avoid it. I don't like my trip to be personal or to feel a personal relationship with the dead. That's not why I go. I have been learning lately that sometimes the marker tells the story itself or allows you to at least speculate what may have happened. I'll be doing a piece on that soon. These things sometimes take more time than I have to put together...Thanks for reading...

Amusing cemetery shot.




Friday laugh - I took this shot at Kensal Green cemetery in London, it wasn’t set up the pedestrian sign was pointing in that direction and really made me laugh. I entered it in The Times newspaper Sign of the Times photography competition and am delighted to say it made it to the top 20 winners of 2009.




17 November 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

I don't know who this is, but I just thought that this tombstone was interesting. I don't see many like these in my travels. It reminds me of the tombstones in Salem Massachusetts that I've seen online. I just thought it was worth sharing.

15 November 2009

San Francisco National Cemtery at the Presidio


California was first colonized by Spain in 1542 with the discovery of the San Diego Bay. The region remained mostly unexplored for more than 200 years. Spain was known for establishing pueblos, missions and Presidios as a way of colonization. The Presidios served as military outposts which would be able to provide support in case of invasion for the pueblos and missions. They also served as trading centers as they would receive the annual supply of goods from Mexico and were also responsible for the disbursement of such goods. The first Presidios were Monterey and San Diego being established in 1769. It was in 1776 that the Presidio of San Francisco was established. It wasn't until 1850 with the discovery of gold that President Fillmore by executive order had established a military outpost at the Presidio. This was after a brief control by Mexico. By this time the Presidio had been nearly abandoned by Spain in favor of other interests. The first burial was at what was called The Post Cemetery in 1854. It wasn't until 1884 that the war department designated 9 acres as the site for the San Francisco National Cemetery. Today the cemetery spans 28 acres and over 28000 burials. It is the only cemetery within the city limits of San Francisco because in 1912 city officials passed an ordinance evicting all other cemeteries from the city limits of San Francisco (see Colma). Burials are currently denied in this cemetery unless previously reserved or if for some reason a reservation is cancelled. From the top of the hill I could see sail boats in the distance and the Golden Gate bridge on the other side. As with all military cemeteries I have seen the stones here were pretty plain and uniform as I expected. There were a few scattered stones here and there that appeared different but I had a long day already when we went to see the King Tut artifacts at the museum earlier in the day. I would have pictures of that as well if they actually allowed photography inside...as always thanks for reading.

14 November 2009

St Pancras Old Church Churchyard, London.
















St Pancras Old Church dates from 11/12C and stands on oldest site of Christian worship in London (3C). Poor Pancras was the orphaned Christian son of a nobleman. He was brought up at the Court of the Emperor in Rome. At the age of 14, refusing to betray his Christian faith he was executed by decapitation on 12th May, 304 A.D. Inside there is a lot of ornamentation and an amazing 4C Altar Stone, reputed to have belonged to St Augustine. The surrounding Churchyard contains the tombs of architect Sir John Soane and Mary Wollstonecraft (although hers is just a monument now as her remains were reburied in Bournemouth.) Mary’s grave was an trysting (err hum) place for her daughter, also Mary, and her future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, when this was a rural churchyard beside the River Fleet! It’s a very pretty churchyard and I got the feeling that I was just standing on the tip of the iceberg with so many more thousands buried below. There has been reputed grave robbing in the late 1800s, and many were disinterred and reburied during the works to the St Pancras rail extension. The tightly packed graves around the Hardy tree are very moving, like nothing I’ve ever seen anywhere else. The Hardy Tree, the plaque on the tree explains that before turning to writing full time Thomas Hardy studied architecture in London from 1862-67 under Mr. Arthur Blomfield, an architect based in Covent Garden. During the 1860s the Midland Railway line was built over part of the original St. Pancras Churchyard. Blomfield was commissioned by the Bishop of London to supervise the proper exhumation of human remains and dismantling of tombs. He passed this unenviable task to his protégé Thomas Hardy in. c.l865. Hardy would have spent many hours in St. Pancras Churchyard overseeing the careful removal of bodies and tombs from the land on which the railway was being built. The headstones around the ash tree would have been placed here about that time. A few years before Hardy's involvement, Charles Dickens made reference to Old St. Pancras Churchyard in his Tale of Two Cities (1859), as the churchyard in which Roger Cly was buried and where Gerry Cruncher was known to 'fish' (a 19C term for body snatching.)

12 November 2009

"That Thing" Thursday

Deez inspired this post in his own way. At one point he did a "That Thing" Thursday about himself. Well, now I'll do one about me in a round about way.

I won't show you pictures of me, but I will tell you that my full name is Rebecca Kate. Doing my family tree I was told that I was named off of the person that raised my father and someone he loves very much.

I am named off of his grandmother and my great grandmother Katie E. Hoffman. She was born in 1893 and died in 1976. We even have the old rocking chair that she used to rock my dad in when he was little. I really don't know much about Mammy Kate (that's what my dad used to call her) or her husband Pappy Spence. I heard that Pappy Spence was a bit of a boozer in his day. You can see that from the pictures I have. The two of them seemed so happy to be alive.

Pappy Spence died of leukemia in 1965. I don't know what Mammy Kate died of. Mom told me that she fell and broke her hip. She wasn't the same after that. Another death certificate will be mailed to me in the next month or so!

Anyone remember the post about Katie and William Meitzler? When I look at Katie on the right of this picture, I think I look a lot like her. I'm heavy like her. I'm built like her. I see myself in Katie. I did find out a lot of stuff about her since I received a copy of her death certificate. She died of Chronic Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. She had it for about 1 year. Her parents where Violetta Hilbert and Thomas Hark. For some reason I feel attached to her.

Ok, now for the real trivial stuff. I am a Certified Pharmacy Technician. I work for Newhard Pharmacy Long Term Care in Northampton, PA. I just turned 28 on November 10th. My favorite color is blue. I enjoy long walks in cemeteries and I really like piña coladas so if you are a single guy...sorry. Oh, I also play World of Warcraft. I have been playing it since December 29, 2005. So yes, I'm shelling out awful amounts of money to Blizzard Entertainment.

Anything else you want to know? Ask away! I'll probably answer it.

Ok, now I'm off to play World of Warcraft. I work tomorrow 1pm to 9pm so I can stay up really late. Woot!

On the subject of crows


On the subject of crows, here is a shot I took at Brompton cemetery in London. TThere was one crow on nearly every cross!


That Thing Thursday

This weeks thing happens to be an upside down crow. As I happened upon it at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery it appeared to be stuck on a branch struggling to free itself. Being in no mood to climb a tree I stood there and watched for a couple minutes as it tried to free itself. When it finally broke free it swooped right above my head as if to say "Hey jerk can't you put down the camera for a second and help me out?". I often see crows in cemeteries and a few times I've followed them as they randomly travel from grave to grave just to see if it brings me anywhere interesting. So far, unless I'm missing some sort of message from beyond my following them hasn't led me anywhere. I did do a little research today to see what the crow symbolizes. So I began looking into Bird Mythology and have uncovered several different beliefs.

A number of Native American Tribes believed that the crow was able to see past, present and future all at once with it's far seeing eye.

The Greeks believed that the crow was a sign of impending death and therefore saw it as unlucky. They were sacred to Athena but she still would not permit them to land on the roof of the Acropolis.

In China a 3 legged crow is said to live in the sun with his 3 legs representing morning, noon and night.

Medieval Christians believed that the crow was a sign of the devil due to it's scavenging as well as a symbol of fidelity because they thought that when the crow's partner died that it would never seek a new mate.

I could not find any information on what if anything an upside down crow symbolizes. I can tell you that if you encounter one that's high in a tree that you either attempt to help it by climbing the tree or it'll buzz by your head on it's way down. That's only if it can figure out how to free itself before you become bored watching it hang there...

11 November 2009

Cemetery Explorers has received the Kreativ Blogger Award

Normally this post would be dedicated to Wordless Wednesday but in this case I'll make an exception. Linda over at Flipside has bestowed upon us the Kreativ Blogger Award. I would like to thank the authors contributing to Cemetery Explorers who helped make this possible. They are Becky R, Terri O'Connell and our newest contributor Jeane Trend-Hill. Thanks ladies for making this site better with your articles, insights and photography. Thanks to the readers for continuing to read and view these articles.

As a rule of receiving this award I'm required to list 7 things about myself and then pass it on to 7 other bloggers. So here goes...

1. I very much dislike Italian food although I am coming around to liking Pizza again.
2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original) is my favorite movie of all time and I really don't like chocolate ( I know, I know)
3. I'm addicted to my laptop.
4. I'd addicted to Photoshop
5. I love a good beer
6. I think there are more women that visit cemeteries than men.
7. I like anything old. Books, pictures, buildings and of course Cemeteries

Now it's time to pass this on to 7 other bloggers...in no particular order

1. Dead Man Talking - Blogging a Dead Horse which is very well written
2. AQ - Aq the Professional - Only for those with a sick and twisted sense of humor (NSFW)
3. Cheryl - Heritage Happens - Very good researcher
4. Tina - Campo Santo Holy Ground - Showing me new places in California
5. Teri - Researching our Ancestors - Interesting insight
6. Becky - Kinnexions - I've been following her on her trip
7. Carol - Reflections from the Fence - Who would have thought being in an Rv would be so fun?

Also if my authors would like to contribute 7 things about themselves it would be cool to add to this. Also if you have any other blogs you'd like added let me know. These are just my personal choices and in no way reflect the views of the other authors...Thanks again...

Jeane Trend-Hill's 7 Things

1. I can fly a helicopter.
2. I love architecture especially Gothic, Victorian, Art Deco and Noveau.
3. I collect Victorian mourning jewellery, cards and funerary.
4. I have an irrational fear of spiders (even tiny ones.)
5. I have a menagerie of crazy animals and birds.
6. I have ten tattoos.
7. I really like cheese.

Terri O'Connell's 7 Things

So here are my 7 things:

1. I love tracing my family history.
2. I love to take pictures.
3. I love to explore the local cemeteries looking for the resting places of notable, historical people.
4. I am an animal lover, we have 3 cats and a dog.
5. I love a good road trip!
6. I am a Disney addict.
7. I have 3 kids ranging from 13 to 20!

10 November 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

For Tombstone Tuesday, I'll be focusing on George Levan, born October 16, 1791 and died August 18th, 1845. What got me is that he had a total of 17 children. What did he do all day? Don't answer that question. Being a woman, I thought "Wow. I wonder if he died happy."

He married Mary Levan in 1810 and they had 11 children. He got married a second time. He married Christianna and had 6 children.

Ouch. Of course, he didn't feel a thing.

Tombstone Tuesday

This was taken at Holy Cross Cemetery in Antioch, CA. It is one of 2 statues I've seen there depicting St. Catherine of Siena at Holy Cross. The other was in a previous post. From the age of 6, Catherine began having visions of angels as clearly as you and I see regular people. By the time she was 16 she became a Dominican Tertiary (A Dominican Tertiary is a lay member of the Dominican Order in the Roman Catholic Church. Such members seek a life of Christian perfection and penance while continuing the normal pursuits of the laity.) She continued to have visions of Christ, Mary and the Saints and was considered one of the most brilliant theological minds of her time. The letters of St. Catherine and a treatise called "The Dialogue" are widely considered some of the most brilliant writings of the Catholic Church. She lived from 1347 - 1380. She is known for receiving the stigmata which only became visible after her death. Her body was discovered in 1430 incorrupt. She appeared as she did the day she died. There are several religious accounts of this happening to other Saints in the Catholic church as well. (See incorruptibles)

09 November 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis


Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
1929 - 1994

Taken on our recent trip to Arlington National Cemetery, October 2009.

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