29 May 2009

Holy Cross Cemetery - Antioch, CA

This is a cemetery I probably need to visit again. When I first visited I was more interested in the statues than anything else and failed to really get any pictures of the names on the many gravestones and crypts located here. Holy Cross Cemetery was established in 1862 by Dominican priests as a way to serve the burial needs of Catholics in eastern Contra Costa County. I did seem to get a few interesting shots on my first visit which I'd still like to share with you anyway. It's always interesting to me the various ways in which people are remembered by their families whether it be expensive crypts.Like Mr. Bert J. Davi who I can only assume is related to the prominent Seeno family in our area due to his marriage to Edith Seeno in 1935. Basically the Seeno family has been building homes since 1938. There is also a Davi street in Pittsburg which may also have some significance, although I don't recommend going down that way. On the opposite side of that you can find inexpensive ways of remembrance. I found it interesting that you had one Davi remembered in a very expensive almost narcissistic way and then in contrast you have Angela Davi who's grave bears nothing more than a wooden cross. I can only assume they're somehow related as I am still sort of new at this side of exploration and have yet to find the tools or links to put all this stuff together. So for now I'll just leave it to my own observations and find whatever information I can find on these people around the internet. I just have so much love for these wonderful places so full of architecture and beautiful marble and granite work. I can say however, that this cemetery is the only one I've been to where I've really felt a weird vibe. I'm not sure what it was nor can I explain it because I've never seen a ghost or anything like that and I really don't want to. But the energy here did feel sort of weird. This was mainly felt around the crypt section. There are a fair amount of crypts here considering that this side of the cemetery is not really that big. Apparently the entire cemetery is combined with the one across the street and they claim 55 acres total. I didn't know that until today and didn't visit the one across the street because it was mostly flat and didn't appear very interesting. But between them both they claim over 10,000 committal services have taken place so I guess it's bigger than I thought. Once I get used to blogging again I'll make a return trip and get some more information on this cemetery. I'd like to close this post by showing one of the more interesting statutes I found on my visit. This is apparently a statue of St. Catherine of Siena. St Catherine of Siena was a Dominican nun best known for her extraordinary piety and for her stigmata, wounds she received for her adoration of the cross. She is recognized by her stigmata and a crown of thorns or roses, and is usually pictured adoring the crucifix, which sometimes has a lily or rose intertwined. The Skull is a symbol of her penance. Her patronage is sick, nurses, temptation, illness, and firefighters. When I first looked inside the crypt where she is housed it freaked me out a little bit. But this is a beautiful statue. Eventually I will be putting together folders where people can visit each cemetery I visit and see the pictures that were taken there. But alas work comes first and usually gets in the way of everything fun... For more info on this cemetery click here

26 May 2009

Rose Hill Cemetery - Black Diamond Mines Regional Perserve

So for my first official post I thought I'd start with where I originally fell in love with cemeteries. Located in Antioch, CA you will find the Black Diamond Mines regional park. From the 1860s through the turn of the last century, five coal mining towns thrived in the Black Diamond area: Nortonville, Somersville, Stewartville, West Hartley and Judsonville. These are now ghost towns and very little besides the mines, which are now closed, remains here to remind us of what these flourishing towns once were. Luckily, although not well preserved during the 1970's, stands Rose Hill Cemetery. This is a small cemetery which was vandalized heavily during the 70's. After doing a few searches on the net I've uncovered several accounts of people claiming that at night you can still hear the sounds of workers who labored day in and day out in the coal mines. Amongst the gravestones lies the grave of Sarah Norton (the midwife in the area and widow of Noah Norton the founder of the town of Nortonville). After talking to the docent at the park I learned the legend. It is said that Sarah Norton was on her way to Clayton in a horse drawn buggy to deliver a baby in October of 1879. One of the horses was scared by a flash of lightning and she was thrown from the buggy and subsequently died. From the story I heard she was not as into the church as much as most of the people in the town. On two occasions the towns people attempted to give her a proper Christian burial. Both attempts failed due to sudden thunder and lightning storms. So on the third attempt it seems they just placed her in the ground and she never received a proper burial. People say she appears as a white figure floating through the cemetery after dark which has given her the name "White Witch". Others say she is just there to watch over the many children who have perished. Overall I'd say this cemetery is worth a visit for the beautiful area it's nestled in. Bring your own water though because it's a half mile hike up hill and there is no water available once you get there. You can also enjoy the miles of trails at Black Diamond as well...For more information and directions to the park you can visit the EBRP Website


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