Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alhambra Cemetery FAIL

Oh no!

I was successful in getting out to Alhambra and St. Catharine's Cemeteries over the weekend, but to my dismay, the cemeteries were shuttered to visitors. Apparently one typically has to go to the Martinez police department to obtain access, but, as it was Sunday, the police department in this sleepy little town was closed.

The two cemeteries are separated by a two-lane road, St. Catharine's on the higher ground above the road, Alhambra sloping down and away from the road.

The view from the cemetery, as we read about in the 1882 description last week, looks indeed to be beautiful, as you can see from this shot we took through the fence:

From the gates we could read one of the many historical markers that surround the opening into the cemetery:

We also could see some interesting burial markers, including, to my surprise, some wooden ones, one of which you can make out in the lower-left of this photo:

Overall it was a tranquil, beautiful spot perched high above the lovely Carquinez straits. I plan to go back again and try to tour the cemetery itself, instead of just peeking in over the barbed wire. In the meantime, you can virtually visit the cemetery courtesy of the Martinez Historical Society.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Martinez Cemeteries, ca. 1882

I found a beautiful description, circa 1882, of the view and surroundings of Alhambra Cemetery in Martinez. I plan to take the family to the Alhambra and Catholic cemeteries this weekend and take some pictures, hopefully a 360 degree shot to show the view described below as it is today. Knowing Martinez and that area, it should look rather similar, with the exception of the bridges spanning the Carquinez, and some of the recent construction. Martinez and Benicia retain alot of old town character, despite being within the greater circle of the SF Bay Area.

The Solano, of course, now rests in ignominy in the waters off Antioch. The CPRR museum has a great page all about the Solano with many photos, illustrations, etc..

From: HISTORY OF CONTRA COSTA COUNTY,CALIFORNIA, 1882, page 414-415. Online at Google Books.

CEMETERIES-The "God's Acre" in Martinez is one of the most beautifully situated "Resting Places" in the State. Commanding a prominent position on a considerable elevation, here lie in peace many of the county's dead, whose headstones tell their tale, and whose well-kept graves attest the love which binds those remaining on earth to those who have journeyed to that "undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns."

ALHAMBRA CEMETERY.-The Alhambra Cemetery was originally a portion of the town of Martinez, surveyed into town lots, and formed a part of the Pinole Grant of the Martinez heirs. Here, as early as 1854, was buried A. M. Holliday, and here, too rests that venerable pioneer Captain Joseph R. Walker. Born, says his epitaph, December 13, 1798, he emigrated from Tennessee to Missouri in 1819; to New Mexico, 1820; to the Rocky Mountains, 1832; to California, 1833; camped at Yosemite, November 13, 1833; died October 27, 1876. In the year 1862 the open ground was enclosed by the people of Martinez and its vicinity, by subscription, and in March, 1869, the Alhambra Cemetery Association was incorporated with the following Trustees: O. C. Coffin, E. W. Hiller, Thomas A. Brown, L. I. Fish, Mark Shepard, C. C. Swain. Those at present serving (1882) are: W. M. Hale, President; G. A. Sherman, Vice President; L. C. Wittenmyer, Secretary; E. W. Hiller, Treasurer and Superintendant; M. H. Bailache, and Dr. J. H. Carothers. The ground, which is five acres in extent, is supplied with water by windmill power and retained in a large reservoir for facility of distribution. The property is now owned by the Association, they having acquired it by purchase.

ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY.- Contiguous to the Alhambra, and on still higher ground, is the cemetery of the Roman Catholics. At one time the resting place for their dead was on the same hill as that of the protestants, but a fire having destroyed many of the monuments, they moved to higher ground. Here lie many of the early Spanish settlers and their descendants; underneath the high wooden-cross, which is to be distinguished from far and near, is buried one of the Briones family, while in close proximity to it is the chaste and beautiful tomb of the late respected and much regretted Supervisor John Tormey. This point commands and extensive view; below--at one's feet--lies the little town, nestling in its frame of hills, and sheltered by umbrageous trees; to the north we trace the bays and creeks of the [Page 415] opposite shore of Solano, and its thriving town of Benicia. To the right rises Mount Diablo in all its beauty of shape and color; to the left in the blue distance we gain a peep of Mount St. Helena, at the head of Napa valley. Anon the shrill shriek of the locomotive is heard as it rounds the military lines on the opposite side of the Carquinez straits, its journey may be traced until it is swallowed by the capacious maw of the Solano, the leviathan ferry-boat which transports it to the shores of Contra Costa; we see the giant slowly leave her berth, and quickly traverse the intervening space of water, and safely glide into the slips at Port Costa, and off the cars rush for their destination. Again, as the sun sinks, the lengthening shadows of the trees warn us of approaching night. The air becomes chill, we leave the hallowed spot, having communed with nature and her "departed spirits."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Full List of Contra Costa Cemeteries

A full listing of all known Contra Costa Cemeteries, along with their dates of operation. I have linked transcriptions and records of the cemeteries online where available.

Alamo Cemetery (Danville) 1858-1943

Alhambra Cemetery (Martinez) 1853-1964

Byron-Brentwood-Knightsen Union Cemetery (Brentwood) 1850's-present

Carmelite Monastery Cemetery 1950-present

Fales Cemetery 1850's-1947

Hampton Burial (one grave)

Holy Cross Cemetery (Antioch) 1860's-present

Lafayette Cemetery (Lafayette) 1854-1948

Little Chapel of Flowers Cemetery (Crematory) Current

Live Oak Cemetery
(Warning: pop-up ads) (Clayton) 1858-1932

Live Oak Cemetery (Concord) 1858-present

Memory Gardens Memorial Park Cemetery (Concord) 1952-present

Muir-Strenzel-Hanna (Martinez) 1851-1947

Oakmont Memorial Park (Lafayette) 1960-present

Oakview Memorial Park (Antioch) 1884-present

Queen of Heaven (Lafayette) 1956-present

Rolling Hills Memorial Park
(El Sobrante) 1960-present

Rose Hill (Nortonville, now Antioch, in the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park) 1863-1924

Salesian Private Cemetery 1936-present

Seasons Cemetery (Pacheco IOOF; also Hidden Valley Cemetery) 1868-1973

St. Catherine's Cemetery (Martinez) 1850's-present

St. Joseph's Cemetery (San Pablo) 1914-present

St. Paul's Cemetery (San Pablo) 1868-1928

St. Stephen's Cemetery (Concord) 1904-present

Sunset Cemetery (El Cerrito) 1908-present

[This listing founded on the publication California Cemetery Records in Contra Costa County, published by the Contra Costa Genealogical Society, 1990. See Volume III front matter. I have made some alterations and changes.]