28 September 2009

Claudia Killingsworth April 15, 1924 – September 20, 2009

Claudia Killingsworth
April 15, 1924 – September 20, 2009

The Bay Area has lost one of its’ hardest working icons. Claudia was well known within the religious and charitable communities. Sister Killingsworth passed suddenly with the Lord blessing her with her wish. She was not sick or disabled, he simply took her home.

Claudia was one of six (6) children born to the union of Floyd and Paralee Cooley McKinney in the city of Sunflower Mississippi. She started school in a church built by her grandfather, Floyd McKinney, for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She received her early education in Mississippi, Chicago Illinois completing it at Southern Christian Institute “SCI” in Edward Mississippi where she met her husband James L. Killingsworth. She and James Sr. were married for sixty-five (65) years. She and husband James, are also alumni of Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins Texas. The Alumni for Jarvis Christian College at Mills Grove Christian Church, with the home going of Claudia, leaves husband James L. Killingsworth and Doris Barrett to continue their fundraising efforts for the institute.

Claudia accepted Christ at an early age, continuing with a strong faith over the years. Sister Killingsworth and her husband James Killingsworth Sr. became Charter Members of Second Christian Church, Disciples of Christ under the organizational skills of Rev. Peter C. Washington in September of 1949. On May 2, 1954, Charter members, Rowena Washington, Emma T. Robinson, James & Claudia Killingsworth and Floyd & Maurine Ward and other members of the congregation moved the church to a new location and became known as the grove Street Christian Church under the leadership of Rev. W.D. Elder. Mills Grove Christian Church became a reality on May 18, 1975 as Mills Terrace Christian and Grove Street Christian (DOC) combined their strength under the leadership of Rev. Eugene James.

Sister Killingsworth had been a member of the Ordained Diaconate Board of Mills Grove Christian Church (DOC) for many years. Her husband James Sr. serves as an Elder. She has been instrumental in serving the religious community within her church and to other churches in need of support. She continued to actively serve until the day before she was called home.
Claudia retired from the Food Services Department of the Oakland Unified School District after thirty-one (31) years of service. She was honored with a beautiful retirement celebration for her years of dedicated service to the students, parents and the Community of Oakland, as stated in her retirement program, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

Claudia works tirelessly with the East Oakland “Edes” senior citizens’ program helping to distribute much needed food and to participate and encourage others to maintain their activities in the exercise and trips made available. She also contributed the much needed emotional support. She was known at the Senior Center and in her neighborhood to be a source of love and comfort. During her early years of marriage, she found time to be a den mother for her son’s scout troop and other work with young people. She received several awards for her work with the youth. She was the caregiver for her aunt, Viola Grubbs who resided with the family for several years.

She also served the community through her several Masonic Affiliations, Regina Chapter#67, Order of the Eastern Star; Mary Elizabeth Court, Heroines of Jericho and Menelik Court, Daughters of Isis. She held many appointed positions with the Order of the Eastern Star. She was crowned as Queen of the Golden State Grand Chapter raising one of the long standing records of the highest amount of money raised. That money was used for Scholarships, baby showers for mothers at Highland Hospital. Through her affiliations women of her projects helped to raise money for scholarships, holiday baskets of foods, baby showers as mentioned above and items which were donated to homeless individuals.

She leaves to mourn her transition: Husband, James L. Killingsworth Sr.; Son, James L. Killingsworth Jr. a close companion Patricia Brewer; Two (2) grandchildren, Sonja Killingsworth & Leon Killingsworth (Kristina); Daughter-in-law, Adelma Killingsworth; four (4) great grandchildren, Avery 12 year. And Aiyanna Dueberry 10 yr. Ava 5 yr. and Ella 3 yr. She also leaves her sister, Hazel Page of Los Angeles; Sister-in-Laws, Edna Killingsworth of Oakland; Inez Killingsworth of Cleveland, Ohio; Nephews & Nieces David Killingsworth Jr., Fitzory, Stanley and Darlene Killingsworth all of Oakland. A host of members from her church and the religious community, as well as friends and those from the Masonic Family.

Claudia was always a very kind a giving person. She always had a smile and her favorite words were, “It will be alright” She will be truly missed in all the communities that she gave service.

Quiet hour, Tuesday September 29, 2009 6 PM to 8:00 PM
C.P. Bannon
6800 International (formally E. 14th St.) Oakland, CA 94621
Eastern Star Services

Donations to Mills Grove Christian Church for either,
“CWF (Christian women Fellowship) or The Youth Foundation

Home Going Service, Wednesday September 30, 2009
Mills Grove Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
5410 Fleming Avenue, Oakland, CA 94619
Services 10:00 A.M. to 12 Noon

Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont, Oakland, CA 94611
Immediately after the church service

26 September 2009

The Day My Home Turned into a Haunted House - Anonymous

Who am I? In the world I am a nobody, but in Christ I am a Child of God. I am a Christian. God started speaking to me on a regular basis January 29, 2009 which was kind of cool, not the usual, but I’ve known Him for 27+ years so I had no issues with him speaking to me until June 6, 2009 when he told me the following (I usually write down what I hear Him saying to the best of my abilities):

6/6/09 – I am glad that you can hear the things that I am saying and you are right to say that you have a gift, for not all can hear the things of the Spirit. It is my wish that you listen to me closely for a time is coming when the sons of men will not believe that you hear My voice, but you must still listen to me for I must direct your path and tell you in which direction you must go. It is true that you have always had the ability to hear spirits. As you now know you have also seen them and there is coming a time very soon where I will open your eyes to these things. Many spirits speak because they want to tell you about the things that are tormenting their spirit selves. They cry out for revenge or serpentine because they cannot do what it is they want to do. Be not afraid for no spirit has control over you. You are protected by many angels who guard over you day and night. Be aware of your surroundings for many seek to speak to you knowing now that you can communicate with them. Not all have this ability, but it is true that I have given it to some. You say that you are a ‘sensitive’ which indeed you are, but in My Kingdom you are a Child of God, do not use worldly terms for they are misunderstood. My Kingdom is not of this world and it is best to think on these things. No demon has authority to touch you. I have given them authority to speak to you trusting that you can discern one spirit from the next. Know that I watch over you for you are very special to me.

My presence is in you. Do you see that when you feel me in your legs that it is I that you sense. I want you to know when it is I because you will sense when others are among you but you will not feel them in your legs for usually the senses of the supernatural are felt in the neck and back, that is not Me, that is another. Your thighs and legs, that is I who speaks to you and who is in your presence.

There is coming a time very soon when you will hear the voice of many spirits. You are to take charge over them for not all of them are of me and many will seek to destroy your perception of reality. Know that I have called you to this place. Know that I have called you to step apart from other men. You will be persecuted at first for they will say that this is not of God but soon after miracles will flow through you with a mighty force that has never been seen before. Know that this is Me and that it is I working through you. Yes you will raise many from the dead, some you will have seen prior to bringing them back to this life. It is my will for when they come back they will help you destroy Satan and his stronghold on men. These things are taking place and you will see them start to manifest before your eyes. Tonight, be ready, my will is taking place in the Nations. I am here with you and you are protected. Be willing to do my will. Go forth in peace and understanding. It is okay to speak these things forth for it is my will for you to delve into My supernatural power for the spirit world is not evil, Satan is evil in his self, not in the spirit. I love you; do not worry for these things must take place.

Ok, I don’t know how you took that but it freaked the hell outta me. If you knew me you would know that I HATE scary! Hate scary movies, stories, etc. Don’t watch suspense or thriller movies except on a rare occasion; I like FUNNY and HAPPY. A while back I was on YouTube watching flicks on angel sightings and came across fallen angel sightings so I watched a couple. One freaked me out so bad that as a grown ass 33 year old woman I was walking around the house trying to do house work sensing things and saying out loud, “I don’t want to see one, I don’t want to see one!” I was scared that I was going to see one, which was weird because I never have, or so I thought. I found out soon after that when I was just a little baby, three years old and under, demons and/or spirits used to torment me in what our family calls the brown house. This didn’t stop until after my mom accepted Jesus and became a Christian. My mom’s Christian friends came over and prayed over me and the house and told the demons and/or spirits to leave me alone in the name of Jesus. My mom says that one day at about age three I was standing around the house and said, “They are gone!” and never had issues since. This explained my fear of not wanting to see them.

It is hard to explain everything and all the details of my experiences, but I want you to understand some of why God said the things that He said above. I did have an encounter with God (or the Holy Spirit) to where I know when He is in my presence. My legs burn as if on fire. This was happening for months but not so much anymore.

Another note, when God told me these things about spirits speaking to me I freaked out and didn’t talk to God for a week or so and tried to contact any spiritual leaders who have experience in this stuff. I didn’t trust that God knew what it was that He was doing. The advice I got was, “The bottom line is that all supernatural things should drive us into a greater relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is our tutor and our guide.” I wanted someone to guide me, but they were leaving me in God’s hands.

Now to the supernatural or spiritual happenings, some of which I have documented in my journals.

6/15/09 – God spoke to me again like he had been every day for many months. (At this point I forgot about what I wrote above for the most part, it scared me so I blocked it out and never reread it.) God started telling me about my neighbors. I bought this house a year prior to this date and have met my neighbors but don’t know them. He told me that my neighbor to my right had hardened his heart towards Him and that the neighbors behind me were tormented by evil spirits. Not even giving it a second thought I prayed and asked God to send His angels over to remove the evil spirits from the house – wouldn’t any good Christian do this?!? Sometime later that evening I heard screaming, but it wasn’t screaming in the natural it was in the spirit. I could almost see it, a very angry ugly woman flaying her arms around and her matted hair moving with them. She/it was screaming in anger and from the bottom of her throat, a deep scream, not shrieking, as if to get my attention. I said, “Yes?” “I’m going to kill you! I’m going to kill you!” was the response. I immediately put two and two together and told the evil spirit that I was a Child of God and to leave me alone.

I’m a little confused on which day this happened because I wrote things down days later but I believe it was the same night on 6/15/09 a little after the screaming spirit spoke to me. Another spirit contacted me and said her name was Stephanie but I couldn’t understand what it was she was saying, it was as if she couldn’t get the words out, so I blocked her out. Then soon later a third spirit spoke. This one was a man who had a deep manly voice, very distinct sounding. He said his name was Joseph Young. He asked that when I brought people back from the dead that I also bring him back so that he could tell people that he was deceived.

In the previous months God had been telling me how he was going to invade earth with his supernatural power and do miracles that have never been seen. One being people raised from the dead who I think He called men of old, I took this as people who have been dead for many years not ones who just died. Like I told you earlier I am a Christian but my mom and her whole family were Mormons so the Joseph Young name seemed to be Mormon but I thought Joseph Smith was the Mormon dude. I went online the next day and this is what I found out.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Joseph Young (April 7, 1797July 16, 1881) was an early convert to the Latter Day Saint movement and was a missionary and longtime general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He was an elder brother of Brigham Young.

Young was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the eighth child born to John Young and Abigail (Nabbie) Howe.

In 1830, while he was a preacher for the Methodist Church in Upper Canada, Young was introduced to the Book of Mormon by his younger brother Brigham. Joseph eventually abandoned the Methodist faith and was baptized a member of the Church of Christ by Daniel Brown in Columbia, Pennsylvania on April 6, 1832.

I didn’t even know there was a Joseph Young, I only knew about Joseph Smith. I find it interesting that Joseph Young was a Methodist Christian before being deceived and following the Latter-day Saints movement. So was that really Joseph Young or a deceiving spirit. Not sure. The next thing that happened, which I haven’t really told anyone, baffled me quite a bit because it involved God and two more spirits.

On the same evening, if I have my facts straight, God spoke to me and introduced me to two spirits: Bobby and Stephanie. God told me that Bobby, a teenager, had been playing with the family rifle and shot and killed himself, I also saw glimpses of this occurring in the spirit (he was outside). Next He introduced me to Stephanie, a little girl, the same girl who tried to speak to me earlier. This explained why she had a hard time communicating; she was just a little girl. I saw three visions for a split second as God spoke. The little girl had been kidnapped, raped or molested, killed and dumped into the trash can on the left side of the parent’s house. God asked me to pray for their families because they were torn to pieces by these tragedies so I did.

The next day I told my friend, a Christian, and she said I needed to turn all that off and not speak to them. I did, but it wasn't easy, it is like my ears were opened. None of this really scared me very much because God was there in the mist of it all. But it did not stop there.

6/16/09 – I’m 34. My almost 15 year old son and I were sitting on the couch talking as we often do. I had spiritual things on my mind, wondering how it all works. I said something to the affect of “I bet (spiritual) things happen to people all the time and they say, Oh, that must have just been the wind!” Jordan agreed. Later that evening at bed time around 9pm or so I was laying in my bed and Jordan was sitting at my feet talking my ear off I’m sure. Out of the blue about two feet behind Jordan’s head, up and to the right side, I hear a whistle as if saying “hey you, look at me!” Understand all the windows and doors were shut, nobody in the house. I looked up towards the whistle and back down at Jordan and said, “Did you hear the whistling?” Jordan replied without flinching, “yes!” and then changed the subject. I said, “So is this one of those times when people say it was just the wind?” He replied, “Yes!” and we agreed it would be a good idea to pray (for protection).

From this point I stopped writing things down because as things happened I got more and more scared. But a little after it happened I emailed an old high school friend and gave her a summary of what had been happening:

8/17/09 – So then about three weeks ago I felt something pinch my ankle so hard it woke me up in the middle of the night and I was so scared I pretended not to feel it and acted like I was still asleep.

Last Sunday, 1 week ago, I had previously heard this guy talking about his book, "When Pigs Move In" and he said how demons get inside of people, etc. and it is about deliverance. So Sunday night I felt something go up my spine and I started having intense fear (in the front part of my brain). Fear is not from God so I prayed that any demons would leave my house, my room and my body. In the spirit I saw a demon come out of my head screaming for about 1.5 feet and then it vanished, I also sensed two other spirits leaving at the same time but only saw them as shadowy or misty.

Last night Satan, or a stronger demon than the rest, kept trying to talk to me and I've done everything I can to close him out. I was telling my mom about this so she could continue to pray for me.

At one point I felt a shadow, pure evil, in my room hovering over me. I was filled with pure terror and remembered hearing someone saying that Satan cannot reside in the presence of praising God so I laid there not moving while speaking praises to God and soon a blanket of God’s glory covered me and the evil left.

Everything had gotten so bad and scary that my mom and dad prayed over me like her friends had done when I was a little girl rebuking Satan and telling the demons/spirits to leave me alone and praying for God’s protection in the name of Jesus. A few days ago I would have said thank the Lord those days are over but the night before last, a spirit spoke to me but I quickly realized he was not of God and stopped listening. My haunted house is no longer quite so haunted, lately it feels like a home again and I am grateful for that.

I think God was teaching me a lesson about the spirit world. I think he was showing me that it is all real, showing me how witchcraft works, showing me that people really are tormented, showing me that Satan’s biggest weapon is fear, and most of all showing me that He would protect me when I am in that kind of spiritual situation. I have also learned how to deliver myself from demonic oppression, in Jesus’ name.

25 September 2009

Freaky Friday - Or Me

Many of you may be wondering "Who is this guy?" "What does he look like?" So I decided to post a few pics of myself and as I was digging for something that didn't make me look like a goon I realized. I don't have many that don't make me look like a goon. Fact is I hate taking pictures of myself. The only ones that seem to come out right are when I wasn't really expecting something to be taken or didn't know that I was being photographed. Something about being aware makes the inner goon come out. So anyway here is the guy we all know as Deez...Of course my real name is just plain ol' Joe. I didn't realize until it was too late that I still had that old pseudonym set up on my account. But whatever too late to change it now. So here he is in all his glory or lack thereof...
This one is what I like to refer to as my Calvin Klein ad. Of course I never modeled for Calvin but if I did I'd imagine it to look like this. It's actually a pic I didn't know was being taken. I was out hiking and somebody randomly snapped it. Of course I did some editing by basically making it black and white.

I'd also like to present the pic I call the Wolf Man. I decided to grow my beard out because I was on vacation at the time and had no reason to shave. I think all guys go through the phases of the wolfman. My hair is naturally curly so I tried to grow it out once but like most guys, or should I say cool guys, I figured out real quick that when you have naturally curly hair it's best to just cut it off.

This is the pic I call the Afro pic. This is the longest I've had my hair in about 18 years. Everyone kept bugging me to grow it out and I kept telling them I hated it. As you can see it was hot that day and it made me extra sweaty. So shortly after this pic was taken I shaved my hair back off. Needless to say...hate my hair...

So here I am...my name is Joe and I'm addicted to cemeteries. Please disregard that last picture. One of those that I knew was being taken because I took it myself, I look like a goon and have I mentioned I hate my hair?

22 September 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

A beloved husband and father
Dennis R Drinkwater
May 20, 1943 - Sept --, 1972

This photo was taken at Memory Gardens and Monuments in Arlington Heights, IL.

I found the name Drinkwater to be very unusual. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on Mr. Drinkwater to add into this post.

Tombstone Tuesday

This was a really cool marker for John W. Rock. Unfortunately I could not find any info as to who he was or what he did to be able to afford such a beautiful piece. Either way I thought it was worthy of being posted.

19 September 2009

Domingo Ghirardelli Feb. 21, 1817 - Jan. 17, 1894

Born in 1817 to an exotic foods importer and his young wife Domenico Ghirardelli became an apprentice for a local candy maker at an early age. Attracted to South America by the possibility of prosperity Ghirardelli spent several years in both Uruguay and Lima, Peru where he engaged in the trade of chocolate and later opened a confectionary store next to that of an American cabinet maker by the name of James Lick. Interested by stories of success in North America Lick set sail for San Francisco in 1847 with 600 pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate in tow which he quickly sold. Lick then writes Ghirardelli a letter asking him to come north and bring more chocolate. In the meantime, while learning Spanish, Ghirardelli decides to drop his Italian name Domenico and take on the Spanish equivalent of Domingo. It wasn't until 1849 after the death of his first wife and the news of gold in California that Ghirardelli decided to set sail for California. After little success finding gold Ghirardelli once again becomes a merchant setting up a tent store in the city of Stockton, CA. It wasn't until a couple months later that he opened his first location in San Francisco. Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory has now been in business for over 150 years and after fires and earth quakes it now stands at 900 N. Point St. in San Francisco, CA.

Although today Ghirardelli's mausoleum is located on Millionaires Row in Mountain View Memorial that was not always the case. It seems that the family originally had a mausoleum at the adjacent St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery. As the story goes, As a young man Ghirardelli was a supporter of Garibaldi for the unification of Italy. It seemed that Garibaldi had differences of opinion on this subject. Garibaldi was exiled to South America and was exiled in 1836. Garibaldi's exile may have shaken Ghirardelli's faith in Catholicism. Thirty years later that faith would be destroyed. Ghirardelli had a teenage niece Aurelia who became gravely ill. A priest was called to give her last rites. Family members have conflicting stories about whether there was a bad rain storm or if the priest felt Ghirardelli hadn't given the church enough financial support. So Aurelia died without being given her last rites which infuriated Domingo and devastated Ghirardelli's deeply religious wife Carmen. Ghirardelli then forbade any of his family members to ever enter a Catholic church again. With this act still weighing on him Domingo had the mausoleum you see above built at Mountain View complete with a Masonic emblem above the door which was considered inappropriate by Catholics. Once it was ready, Domingo and his two sons went to St. Mary's in the dark of night and took the 4 bodies that were at St. Mary's and laid them to rest in the newly built mausoleum.

I found that story while just researching Domingo himself. I like the whole dark of night body stealing. I can't find any hard evidence that Ghirardelli was a freemason but an interesting story nonetheless...

18 September 2009

RIP to a Legend - James Marshall Hendrix 1942-1970

This is some artwork I did on a photo of Jimi Hendrix about a year ago now. Although Jimi lived and died before I was born his music still speaks to me today. Having a short career and short life he was able to transform music and I believe he was in fact way ahead of his time but somehow able to reach so many. For those of you that haven't seen how powerful and passionate his set was at Woodstock shortly before he died you are truly missing out. Jimi's music has gotten me through so many things in my life and I can always find a song that goes with my mood.

Jimi lived a short difficult life. His mother had him when she was only 17 and had a difficult time with Jimi's father Al. After Jimi's brothers Leon and Joseph were born Jimi's mother left his father and he only saw her here and there until her death in 1958. Jimi turned to music to give him an outlet. And thank God he did because I feel like in a few short years he was able to bring awareness to the world. Sadly Jimi died at the age of 27 years old on September 18, 1970, 39 years today of drug related complications. Jimi's music is timeless and will continue to influence and speak to generations to come. His music will always live on even though Jimi himself will not. I hope to be able to visit Jimi's gravesite in Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, WA and pay my respects to the legend.

Freaky Friday - Oak Hill Cemetery San Jose, CA

Ok so I'll let you decide on the level of freakyness here. But from this perspective this crypt seemed perfectly normal to me. Nothing out of the ordinary anyway. I have this obsession with having to peer in and see how many people are in there and as I got close I noticed some strange writing on the steps just before the door. I couldn't quite make it out with my eyes but I've found that if I hold my camera up to things sometimes it helps me to read them. In the next picture you'll see what I saw.

It looked to me like it said "Salara". I looked inside and I didn't see anyone with that name buried inside. I could still be way off on what it said. And it could just be someone decided to scratch their name at the steps. I'm always a skeptic when it comes to ghosts and all that stuff so I think I'm going to need some more convincing. I just found this one more strange than anything. Like the saying goes "Guess you had to be there"

17 September 2009

New Author

Below this post you will notice that Cemetery Explorers has gained a new author. With a new author comes a new perspective. My dream here is to have many authors who will truely make this a group of Cemetery Explorers. I would like to introduce Becky R. to the readers and thank her for her first post of many to come. Once again if any reader would like to be an author her just let me know. If you write your own blog you can still be a guest author and plug your own blog in the process. I can be contacted via the blog or at facebook by looking up the same email address I use on my profile here. Dallmann8r@yahoo.com look me up if you'd like to be an author or just see my handsome face...lol. As always thanks for reading.

15 September 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Henry S. Crocker 1832-1904
Clara E. Crocker 1845-1910

In 1856 Henry founded the H.S. Crocker Company Printers. Promising to deliver the best printing services the West Coast had to offer. Over 150 years later H.S. Crocker Co. is still in business.

It took me 3 trips to Mountain View Memorial in Oakland, CA to get a decent picture of this memorial. I kept getting too close and cutting off part of the feet or the sun wasn't right. It was always something. This has always been one of my favorite statues. Up close she is so lifelike and the detail on the robe is phenomenal.

14 September 2009

Mobster Monday - Al Capone

About a month ago, a few of us went off on a mission. The mission was to find the grave of Alphonse Capone. We knew he was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, in Hillside, IL. But I did not right down any other information. I remember that I read it was to the right, right after the entrance. Big question, is which entrance. I though it was the main entrance. So, we drove from the side entrance on Roosevelt to the main. Locked the car and started walking though this large, old, beautiful cemetery, searching for his burial site. We searched for over an hour and decided to get back in the car and drive around, as the cemetery is huge! While driving, we noticed a parked car in front of us, with some teenagers and an adult in it. I asked my friend, "what do you think they are doing?" - we were not close enough to see.
She laughed and said, "probably looking at Capone's gravesite!"
Right she was. We got up there and laughed at ourselves. He was buried right were we originally entered the cemetery.

The photo above marks the family plots. There are individual stones for many family members.

Notice the cigar that was left behind for him, bottom of the stone, to the right of the cross.

Many movies have been made on the life and crimes of Al Capone, so I will not post anything about it. Just some words of caution to those that try to outsmart the law.
Yes, Capone was a Gangster! Yes, he did terrible things to many people. But, remember this. He was convicted of tax fraud. Never a murder!

13 September 2009

Benicia City Cemetery Benecia, CA

In 1846 while escorting General Mariano Vallejo to Sutter's Fort in Sacramento a gentleman by the name of
Lt. Robert Semple saw the Carquinez Strait. Most of the land north of the strait was owned by Vallejo and the two men came to an agreement that they would form a town here. In December of 1846 Semple was granted half interest in the land tract on the condition that he name the town after Vallejo's wife Francisca Benicia Carillo de Vallejo. Francisca was actually the original name of what we call Benicia today, however it conflicted with the more popular city of San Francisco. It was then decided that it would be called by Francisca's second name Benicia. In 1847 Semple sought the assistance of a prominent American settler by the name of Thomas O. Larkin which you may remember from the post on Cypress Lawn in Colma.

Established in 1847 just after Benicia became a town is Benicia's City Cemetery. Nestled on a hillside and overlooking the Carquinez Strait the cemetery is still in use over 150 years later. This is one of the few cemeteries I have been to that was established prior to California becoming a state. It was a hot yet beautiful day when I visited and I could see a sailboat race in the distance as I snapped a wide angle picture. I was playing with the settings on my camera and figured out that my camera had some capabilities that I wasn't aware of. When we set out this day it wasn't to visit Benicia at all. We were actually making our 3rd attempt to visit St. Catherine of Siena in Martinez only to be disappointed by the Martinez Police Department once again. We waited and waited for an officer to come to the police department where you have to pick up the keys and nobody ever came, although we did see at least 4 drive by the police station. So deciding not to lose the entire day we headed to Benicia.What I observed while visiting this cemetery was that many of the headstones and family plots in the older section have fallen into disrepair over the years. Most likely this was caused by erosion, neglect and as usual vandalism. Little by little things are being done here to help restore some of the plots in the older section. But for some, I'm afraid there will be nothing anybody can do but wonder what they used to look like. With so little history still available to us it's always disheartening when you see signs of vandalism in and on historic places. People need to be educated. Just a guess but I'd bet most kids these days couldn't even tell you when California became a state. It's disheartening. People often ask me why I bring my kids to cemeteries because they most people don't understand why I myself visit them. I simply tell them that I do this for the education, beauty and serenity. Of course bringing the kids sometimes diminishes the serenity I feel it's still necessary to educate them not only in school but in anything I can find around me. To close this post I'd like tot show some pics I got by playing around with the settings on my camera.

This shot was taken in a darkened sepia. I took it on manual mode and liked the sepia effect along with the shadows. I'm not a professional photographer of course so normally I'd take this into photoshop and doctor it. This time I chose to use it's raw format.

This is a landscape shot in black and white. Once again untouched. I like black and white photos because they give the picture an old time feel.

This is the last shot I'm going to post today. I probably took over a hundred pictures that day and this is probably my favorite one. It's another sepia. I like how it has an antique look.

I would like to thank everyone for reading my blog and giving me a reason to continue. If anyone would like to be a guest author and post anything about a cemetery, family member or anything else that may be related to this blog I'd like to encourage that. If you have your own blog it would be perfectly fine with me if you want to post something and plug your own blog in the process....until next time...

11 September 2009

Freaky Friday

Something here is not quite right. I just can't seem to put my finger on it. Hmm...what could it be? Oh I know. Maybe somebody decided to make an attempt at restoring this statue. But instead let's get a head that doesn't quite match. I think they would have been better off leaving it headless.

10 September 2009

Virtual Memorial Dino "Uncle Dino" Magnani 1958-2009

So here's another grave I found without a headstone. I'm not sure how long it takes to get a headstone placed and this grave was fairly recent. It has only been there since January of 2009. With the help of a friend at find a grave I was able to locate an obituary that like that of Andrew J. Wasson was posted in the Times Herald which serves Solano County. Reading obituaries that go along with the pictures I take puts things in perspective for me. It's not just a picture anymore it's a person with a family that loved them and still loves them. When visiting the older graves I can see that hardly anybody visits anymore unless they're researching family history or something. But these newer ones sometimes get to me. It seems more personal. This is why I've decided that maybe I'll start giving some of them my own memorial. A headstone in cyberspace if you will.

Birth: Feb. 12, 1958
Death: Jan. 5, 2009

Feb. 12, 1958 - Jan. 5, 2009
Dino lost his battle with cancer Monday, January 5, 2009. He was the back bone of the family. Whenever we needed him he was there 15 minutes early, ready and willing to pick up the slack. Our family couldn't of made it this far without him. He was "Uncle Dino", our hero and our friend, loyal and consistant til the end. He lightened the load to our hectic lives, and made the pressures of life easier to withstand. We thank the Lord for blessing us with such a tremendous man and loyal soul.

His suffering has now ceased and peaceful eternity has begun with God our Father. Dino was preceded in death by his mortal father, Libero Magnani, and close long-time friends, Chuck Sanchez, James Moises, and Rob Mantle. We find comfort that they were there to greet him at the gates of heaven.

Published in the TimesHeraldOnline on 1/8/2009

I purposely left out the names of his surviving family out of respect for them. Thanks to hnybnch at Findagrave.com

That Thing Thursday

Found some bones while visiting Benicia's City Cemetery the other day. I'm not really good at identifying animal bones because usually they stink and I won't even look at them. I'm not sure what this is...Maybe a mouse? I can see a leg bone there but I'm not sure what else. I looked at it long enough to get queasy and that was it...

09 September 2009

Virtual Memorial Andrew J. Wasson 1988-2008

As I was almost finished with my trip to Benicia's City Cemetery the other day I started looking at the other side where they had some newer graves. Usually I don't look at the newer sections because I can still feel the emotions that remain there from families that frequent those sections grieving over their loved ones. Being a sports fan myself I noticed a grave that had nothing more than a plastic marker signifying the burial of a young man by the name of Andrew J. Wasson. He died at only 20 years of age. Clearly somebody had been visiting because on top of the grave were several San Jose Sharks flags and a San Francisco 49er flag as well which happens to be my favorite football team. I thought to myself why the family wouldn't have a headstone made and pretty much came to the conclusion that they were either still saving for one or possibly they never planned to have one placed due to financial issues.So I decided that if Andrew deserved something. Of course I couldn't buy him a headstone myself so I decided that I'd pay him tribute here on my blog. I don't know how he died so young but the decorations his loved ones left behind said something about this kid. There were the flags of sports teams, skulls, a wizard and a conch wrapped in some sort of nylon possibly for protection from the elements. I was able to deduce that Andrew was a unique kid just by the things his family wanted to be with him as he lay at rest. I may be doing more of these and so what if nobody reads it. It's for Andrew this time and possibly any of his family members that may type his name into Google one day.

*After a little more research and $3 I was able to locate an obituary...

March 15, 1988 - April 26, 2008

Andrew J. Wasson, 20, passed away Saturday at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo.

A celebration of life will be held 3 p.m. Friday at the Clubhouse of Sterling Heights, 150 Rankin Way, Benicia.

Memorial contributions are preferred to Bank of America, Benicia Branch, account No. 0105017151.

Arrangements are under the direction and care of Twin Chapels Mortuary, Vallejo (707) 552-6696.

This was found in the Times Herald

Wordless Wednesday

Fight Over Buckhead Cemetery

I found this story while digging through some things this morning. I found it interesting. I mean really who wants their relatives to be dug up and moved? I really can't say that I would. (Click for article)

08 September 2009

Lafayette Hillside Memorial

Viewable from the Lafayette Bart station in Lafayette, CA is a monument of sorts which is home to over 5000 wooden crosses to date. I drive by this place at least once or twice a week and always say "One day I'm going to stop and take a picture of that." Well it turns out that today was my day so I'd like to share it with you. This is a memorial was started in November of 2006 by a gentleman by the name of Jeff Heaton to symbolize American men and women that were killed in the Iraq war. Amid the crosses is a sign that tells people exactly what that number is. It has recently been changed to reflect the soldiers that were also killed in Afghanistan as well. That number now stands at 5,166 and is updated every week as necessary to represent the new tally. The property they stand on is owned by Louise Clark and her deceased husband Johnson Clark who happens to be a WWII veteran. Of course when the memorial first got underway there were strong opinions on both sides. Some say it is disrespectful to the troops and others say that it's simply stating a fact. I tend to agree with the latter. I have a brother who is a U.S. Marine and understand his job and what he's supposed to do and fully support him in doing that. It just seems that when you put something into the sort of perspective this memorial does that people tend to get angry and upset with reality. I ask myself questions such as why are we still there? What are we fighting for now? And the reality is my brother has been one of the lucky ones to survive Iraq twice. He's not some pencil pusher that just gets to watch everyone. He's the first one in and the last one out. I hope to never have to put a cross on that hill for him...

Tombstone Tuesday

This picture was taken at Oakview Memorial in Antioch, CA. I found it interesting that it looked more like the stump of a petrified tree than anything else. Even more strange was that somebody had been there to place the flowers. Upon closer inspection the stump in the back was a tree of some kind that was pretty flaky. The whole thing was very puzzling. I looked around and the tree seemed to be the only marker. I had to come back and edit this post because I don't remember seeing that thing on the bottom right of the stump. I have no idea what it is. I took another picture of the backside which I'll include as well...any ideas?

07 September 2009


I must be drunk...I did a post on Memorial day...it's actually Labor Day. It's been a long week.

05 September 2009

Don't Mess With Big Mama

I had the pleasure of visiting Oakview Memorial Park in Antioch, CA yesterday so my girlfriend could clean her grandmother's headstone. As she was busy scrubbing away I decided it would be a good time to do some exploring. As I was doing my normal observations and taking a few random shots something caught my eye. I see not too far away a headstone that reads as you see here "Big Mama Viola Red". At first I thought that this was just a wonderful name. I know that all these people buried in the cemetery meant to world to someone. But Big Mama struck me as what was probably once the matriarch of her family. I imagined huge get togethers at her house, family and their children running around and everyone eating and having a good time. I'm guessing Big Mama probably had a specialty dish that everyone was always looking forward to. I know for my mom it's always the world famous baked beans. Oh I could taste them as I stood before the grave of Big Mama. I also noticed on the headstone that there was an actual picture of Big Mama as she once lived.I'm not exactly sure why this picture was chosen for the headstone. It looked to me as if Big Mama was trying to say "Don't mess with me. Big Mama is not to be trifled with." She struck me as the same type of person my mom is. The one grandma that had no problem smacking someone elses kid. Well as long as they were semi related. Heck my mom would even smack my friends. So I'd like to say thanks to Big Mama for giving me something to think about yesterday and allowing me to remember how important those times with family and the get togethers are because they definitely don't last forever.

03 September 2009

That Thing Thursday

This weeks "Thing" is an emu that I saw while visiting Bubbling Springs Pet Cemetery in Napa, CA. I wanted to go there and see how far people go for their pets burials. There wasn't anything too elaborate but coming from the ghetto it was hard for me to comprehend that there was a place like this in the first place. We probably had 3 or 4 cats, a dog and probably a gold fish or two buried in my backyard. Well at least I thought I did anyway. I don't know what my dad did when we weren't looking and Mom's chili never tasted funny but it seems weird to have a bunch of dead animals in your backyard now that I'm older.They also had a couple Llama in a pen there as well. It's possible these live animals were guarding the sea of dead cats, dogs, rabbits and who knows what else. It's amazing to me that people love their animals so much that their seems to be no separation between animal and human. I guess this all depends on your upbringing. There is a place I did some work in San Francisco called Wag Hotel it's basically a hotel for your dog. The guy took me around the place and showed me everything they do there. I'm not doing a commercial here but this thing is amazing. They have screens in all the rooms and the dog or cat can watch TV. A person can be on vacation and log onto the internet and look at their dog in this room. I think it's rather ridiculous. It's a far stretch from dumping a bag of food on the porch and filling up a bucket of water or asking the neighbor to make sure your dog is fed while you're on vacation. Just amazing...again I think it comes down to upbringing. I guess this is the point where I go on record and say that no I'm not an animal lover but I do like animals. My only rule is they must belong to someone else and that someone else better have control of their animal and be able to prevent it from jumping on me. Yes I will punch your dog if I feel threatened...don't get mad.

01 September 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

This picture was taken at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, CA. The name read Easterby and it was in a sort of open space under this huge tree. The stone itself was pretty raw. Almost as if someone just found a rock and carved the name in it. I need to go back to Tulocay because I had three bored little kids with me that day and it kind of ruined the experience...


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