30 August 2009

James Rankin 1848-1901

James Rankin is buried at Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery in Martinez California. He wasn't included in my original Alhambra post because I wanted to give him his own bio instead of a short blurb included in that post. James Rankin emigrated from Scotland at the age of 17 and landed in New York. In 1869 he headed to San Francisco and eventually ended up finding work in the Black Diamond Mines located between what is now Pittsburg and Clayton California. Between 1869 and 1884 he worked hard in the mines and rose to the rank of Mine Manager while owning a number of hotels and general stores in the lost towns of Nortonville, Somersville and Stewartsville.He was married in 1869 to Sarah who was the sister of his business partner Sam Brown. In 1884 James was elected to the position of Sheriff of Contra Costa County. This prompted him to move his family to Martinez where they renovated a new home to accommodate his growing family. Between the late 1880's and 1890's Rankin stayed very busy splitting his time between Martinez, the mines, and a 650 acre grain ranch he developed near what was then called New York Landing (Pittsburg, CA). In 1899 amid difficulties the Bank of Martinez asked Rankin to become it's president. He held that post until his death in 1901 at the young age of 53.

Martinez is one of the few cities in my area that have seemed to be able to balance the history of the town along with newer construction. In the downtown area many of the houses of the original pioneers can still be seen and are adorned with plaques indicating who lived there originally. I drove around Martinez looking for the Rankin house to no avail. It still exists I just couldn't find it. Part of his land was turned into what is now Rankin Park. It's a beautiful park with lots of trees and a few hiking trails located not far from the cemetery. James Rankin is no doubt an interesting man who had many accomplishments in his lifetime. One of the people that came here in search of the American dream and actually seems to have found it. I'll leave this post with a bit of speculation. I believe his death was most likely due to his work in the Black Diamond Mines. Many of the people in that area died at an early age. Some due to disease and others just from breathing coal dust for a number of years. I can't imagine that to be healthy.

29 August 2009

What an adventure

So I'm back folks. After working 4 days in Placerville at the Red Hawk Casino making the impossible possible. I decided this morning to see if I could either find a new blog template or just fix the date problem I had with my existing template. I'm not an HTML whiz by any means and I tried on several new looks. Some looked great but I was too lazy to do a new banner for myself. After taking the better half of 6 hours plus or minus I finally figured out the date problem with the existing template so I can't really call it a new look. Just a few minor changes. I'll hopefully get a post up this weekend that has something to do with cemeteries. I know this is a little off topic but a bit of advice if you're ever thinking of visiting Red Hawk Casino. They have 6 restaurants and I think we tried out all 5 including the buffet. I heard such great things about the buffet so it was the first thing I tried. I can honestly say it was hyped way too much by the people I know that have been there. Needless to say I was not impressed. I didn't even have time to go to the cemetery up there. I was pretty bummed but so tired I don't know if I could have walked the cemetery anyway. One of these days I'll go back to "Hangtown" and see what I can dig up...no pun intended. I'd like to thank you guys as well for reading and listening to what I have to say...Look up in the corner...this post should have a date!!! LOL...

26 August 2009

Back on Friday

Just letting everyone know I'm back on Friday. I had to go out of town for work..ugh. Wish me luck...my laptop has none of my pictures so I won't have anything to post until I get back...

22 August 2009

Too Slow Saturday/Freaky Friday

This image was originally meant for "Freaky Friday" but since I was busy with that thing that gets in the way of all things fun a.k.a. work. I didn't get a chance to post it. There is nothing particularly freaky about it. I just found it a little strange that two days after I took mine Cheryl at GYR of South Alameda posted it as her Wordless Wednesday. And now it becomes a little freakier as I look at her picture(Click here) then again at mine you notice that in hers the grave seems clean other than a couple cacti. Then back at my picture and you see that there's a ball and a broken jewelry box lying on top. Her picture was taken May 10, 2009 and mine on August 17, 2009. I also took a picture of the jewelry box that was there as well. It looked old and weathered but I never touch anything that families leave on graves with the exception of standing up some windblown flowers. I'm not sure who is buried here because the grave is unmarked.I'm hoping maybe Cheryl can provide me with some insight on this one. I can only speculate that the family had no money for a marker but still comes to visit the grave site of a lost little girl. I don't know why but it seems as if this one turned out to be a little more freaky and interesting than I had imagined when I first started this post.

20 August 2009

That Thing Thursday

This weeks "That Thing" is from Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Sebastapol, CA. I'm not sure how long the cross had been there but I found it interesting that it's made from loose rocks as if somebody continually puts it back together.

18 August 2009

Tombstone Tuesday/Hillcrest Cemetery Mendocino, CA

Today I would like to honor a hero. I'm not sure if he was successful in saving the lives of 5 drowning people. But dying in the attempt I think qualifies him as a hero in my book. The incscription reads:

Manuel Jose Trugueiro
"A native of Flores of the western Islands"
Died February 1, 1871
In the Christian and heroic attempt to save 5 drowning men.

I call that a hero in my book. This picture was taken at Hillcrest Cemetery in Mendocino, CA. I was there doing some work and low and behold a cemetery right next door. I couldn't pass it up. So here are my observations on the cemetery itself. First of all I couldn't find any information about the cemetery itself on the internet so everything that I'm going to write about it today is pure observation. What would you expect from a town with only 1000 residents?

I was in the area to inspect an upcoming job for my company at one of the MacCallum house properties called Reed Manor and like I said this cemetery was located right next door. It seemed to be in a weird spot for a cemetery especially being located right next to a bed and breakfast. The sign listed a Chinese section and I don't recall seeing any Chinese buried there. However this cemetery seemed to have a mostly hispanic population. Zenith Hill does exist however. It is a small section of land next to Reed Manor which was donated by Jean MacCallum in memory of the veterans of the Mendocino Coast.

Pictured here you see the grave marker of William and Eliza Kelley. William and his brother James set out for California from Prince Edward Island in search of gold in 1850. On their way they stopped in Panama and set up a store on the Chagres River. James subsequently died in Panama of Cholera while William continued on to California where he found work as a ship builder in the city of Benecia. In 1852 he boarded a ship and set sail for the Mendocino coast. In 1855 he traveled back to his home in Prince Edward Island where he married and returned with his wife Eliza. Eliza became a prominent member of the Mendocino community and aside from raising their 4 children she spent a lot of her time working with the Mendocino Baptist Church which was built by her husband William who is also credited as one of the founding fathers of the city of Mendocino. In 1972 the Kelley House was turned into a museum where it still stands today. The house was built in 1861 and has since been host to a number of silent and feature films. So overall I can't say to make a special trip to Mendocino to visit this cemetery but I can say that Mendocino is a beautiful getaway right on the ocean with a fair amount of history for such a small town.

*Correction - For those of you that read I went to Hill House Inn my address was incorrect. My address information was incorrect when I looked it up and it was actually Reed Manor that I visited. This property was purchased by MacCallum Properties in 2004. Thank you Charles for pointing out my error.

14 August 2009

Freaky Friday

Most likely a victim of vandalism. This statue had 1 arm, 1 wing and no head. The pic was taken at St Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Oakland, CA. This is a beautiful cemetery which is dwarfed by the massive Mountain View Memorial right next door.

13 August 2009

That Thing Thursday

Most of the genealogy sites I visit do something called "Those Places Thursday". Since I'm not technically a genealogy site I'd like to do my own thing and call it That Thing Thursday. Basically something that makes you say "Look at that thing". This weeks thing is a tiny lizard we were trying to catch at Alhambra the other day. It was a fast little sucker and it decided to climb on my shoe to try and get away. We couldn't resist picking it up and having a look. So this is this week's "That Thing"

11 August 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Little Charlie lies inside the Alhambra Pioneer cemetery in Martinez, CA (see previous post). There is nothing really significant about his tombstone. It did remind me of a video I recently saw on youtube. After seeing this video I couldn't stop repeating the "Ow Charlie that really hurt" Charlie's death is in no way funny but this video sure was. For some reason it's one of those things that I can't help laughing at every time I see it.

09 August 2009

Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery Martinez, CA

Well another attempt to gain access to the St. Catherine of Siena cemetery has failed. After having a nice walk and lunch in the historic downtown area of Martinez we decided to visit the police station to obtain the keys that would allow us to visit St. Catherine. I knew there was trouble when the officer began searching through the keys and taking way too long to find them. He came back and said that somebody must already have them. So we decided to take the keys to Alhambra just in case. Alhambra is located directly across the street from St. Catherine. Upon arrival, there was nobody in St. Catherine. So I shrugged my shoulders and we went inside Alhambra.Burials at the Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery are believed to be dated back as far as 1851, however, the first recorded burials began in 1854 with the last being as late as 1999. It is possible that more deeds in the cemetery exist, however, the cemetery overseer may have sold some of the plots to more than one person. The land was originally part of the land grant given by Don Ygnacio Martinez. There is no doubt in my mind that the cemetery site was originally chosen for it's picturesque landscape at the time. Now you see a more industrialized view of what used to be a clear view of the delta. A trainyard and construction area is now located behind the cemetery.Pictured here you see the grave of Eliza Nottingham. For awhile this headstone was missing from the cemetery. I have heard several accounts of how it was found. One says that a man found it in his backyard while digging a swimming pool. Another says that it turned up in an antique shop. In any even Eliza's headstone is now back where it belongs. She was born in Kentucky and there is no information as to when or how she came to California. But Eliza is no ordinary woman. At the age of 9 she was on a family outing and rescued a 4 year old boy from drowning in a creek. That boy later grew up to become the 16th president of the United States. Yes Abraham Lincoln. What would the world be like today if it weren't for Eliza Nottingham? Sometimes the unknown pictures are worth more than the famous ones to me. I felt honored to have stood before her grave.There is so much I could write about this cemetery so I'll probably end up doing individual biographies in future posts but I could not leave this post without talking about the Potter's Field. See Matthew 27:3-8 Buried within the Potter's Field are the bodies of some 600 unknown early California pioneers of Chinese, Mexican, Scottish and Irish descent. Each burial is marked by a stone with a number and is no larger than a loaf of bread. This was the only place in the cemetery where I felt a little strange. I just felt sorrow for all these people who were buried as unknowns most likely due to their lack of status. These were mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who no doubt meant something to somebody at the time but didn't have enough money for a proper burial. All in all this was a nice trip. Since we had to get a key to get in we had the run of the cemetery by ourselves. It was a really relaxing and peaceful day and I really had fun learning all this information about this cemetery and the people buried within it's gates.

07 August 2009

Freaky Friday

I wish I could take credit for this pic but I can't. It was taken by Void of Silence my absent author who is currently busy with school. The photo was taken at Melaten Cemetery in Cologne, Germany. I hope to one day visit because this is only one of many interesting statues contained here. I was trying to hold off on using any of these pics but I couldn't help but share at least one. I'm hoping one day she'll do a write up when she's not so busy with school. Either way the pics she gave me of Melaten are amazing...


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