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Graveyard Rabbit of South Alameda County by Cheryl Palmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Story of Oak Knoll Cemetery - Part 2

Oak Knoll Cemetery was officially recognized as a cemetery when a plat map was filed in 1878 with the County of Alameda. The oak trees that were all around the hill, are what gave the cemetery it's name. These oak trees have long since disappeared. Most of the trees in this area now are eucalyptus.

During the summer of 1889 the Echo newspaper reported "Last Sunday afternoon as a lot of Chinese were burning joss-sticks (a type of incense) and performing their customary annual ceremony over the graves of their countrymen buried at Oak Knoll Cemetery, they carelessly set fire to the grass, and the entire cemetery was burned over, destroying all of the enclosures and doing a large amount of other damage."

About the turn of the century three new cemeteries were opened in Livermore. With this, there were fewer burials at Oak Knoll. Some family plots at this original Livermore cemetery were totally abandoned. Some families even went so far as to move their relatives' remains to one of the new burial sites.

One specific story of moving family remains lies with the Block family. It has been told that Walter Block had his father, Andrew, help him move the remains of a deceased uncle to one of the new cemeteries. "In the process the casket broke open. Walter Block never fully forgave his father for the incident."

In 1906, apparently the San Francisco earthquake caused damage to this cemetery. (Livermore to San Francisco is about 45 miles, with the roads we have today) Many of the headstones were knocked down. Then part of the hill was washed away in 1907 by floods. The Hearld newspaper reported in one of it's future articles - "It is suspected that a number of bodies went down with the heavy slide of a few weeks ago. A party of young people who visited the cemetery last week reported that a coffin was uncovered on the edge of the slide and that the bones of it's occupant were exposed."

As I explained in Part 1 of this story, the last sexton of the cemetery left inadequate records of the burials at this cemetery. When the sexton, Robert Adams, died in the early 1900's there were actually no records found in his papers of the grave plots. With the damage from fire, flooding and the earthquake, along with missing records from the sexton, it is quite understandable now why we may never know who every person was that was buried there.

(My appreciation and thanks to the Livermore Heritage Guild and the Livermore-Amador Genealogy Society for making this information available.)

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