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."

1 comment:

Terry Thornton said...

JENNIFER, You are so fortunate to have an 1882 word description of these cemeteries. I look forward to your photographs to compare to the 126 year-old description.