Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Headstone Adventures

I was poking around an online newspaper archive and found this interesting article about Ms. Jane Oliver (headstone photo below), a resident of the Rose Hill Cemetery, and the adventures of her headstone. What's great is the article includes information on the publication of her death notice in The Oakland Daily Evening Tribune (I have not verified that text personally).

From: The Van Nuys News, 08 November 1973, Page 73, Column 1


NORTONVILLE, Cal. (UPI)- The headstone that marked the grave of Jane Oliver, wife of a Welshman who worked California coal mines 100 years ago, was missing mysteriously for some time, but has been found and will be returned.

Officials said Mrs. Oliver's headstone will be placed where it belongs, and this ghost town's churchyard will be restored to its appearance in 1880 when Mrs. Oliver died at age 39.

Last week a California Highway Patrolman found the old headstone in a roadway near Concord, miles from Nortonville.

The inscription said it belonged to Jane Oliver and that she died March 17, 1880, at the age of 39 years and 6 months.

Local historians, trying to return the stone to its proper place, found the following death notice in the Oakland Tribune for March 25, 1880:

'Oliver- in Nortonville, Contra Costa County, March 17, Jane, wife of Thomas J. Oliver, a native of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, South Wales, aged 39 years and 6 months.'

Nortonville and several other ghost towns on the slopes of Mount Diablo, are included in an area recently acquired for a regional park.

At one time Nortonville had a population of more than 1500, mostly Welshmen who came to work the coal mine that flourished in the area before 1890."

Monday, January 5, 2009


I'll be on a little bit of a hiatus over the next few weeks as I pack up our house due to our impending move! We're staying in the same city, but moving about five miles from our current home, so it's all the work without all of the sense of dislocation.

Rest assured that once we get settled we'll be doing more on-location visits, and I'll be hitting up the Pleasant Hill library for some digging into Rose Hill and other cemeteries!