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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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday-My Tough Cemetery Experience

(This post is slightly adapted from a post I entered on my other blog. Some thoughts on how your cemetery day could end up...)

Last Saturday I was so very excited! Earlier in the week I found out that my great grandparents were buried not across the country as I had expected, but in the county I live in! Saturday was the day I was going to go to the cemetery and see their graves and take pictures.

The cemetery that my ggrandparents were buried in is Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California. My husband decided to take the trip over there with me, which was a bit of a surprise. He has been to a few cemeteries with me for research, but he doesn't really care for it much. He also doesn't understand why people bring folding chairs and picnics to the grave sites.

Well, I was thinking in the back of my head that I had never been to this cemetery before, and when we drove up to it, I was all full of surprise as the Chapel of the Chimes is right next to the cemetery and I had no idea where in Oakland it was. So I immediately learned that!

I was disappointed there wasn't a plaque with the name of the cemetery posted at the entrance. Once we pulled in, I again was in amazement! This time by how large the cemetery was and how it took my breath away. I am finding more and more, most cemeteries take my breath away for one reason or another. I already knew I HAD to come back to this cemetery WITHOUT my husband one day, just to explore and take my time. He is patient, but not for all I would like to do, and I understand that.

First on the agenda was for me to head to the office to find out where my great grandparents were buried. As we pulled up to the office I had a deja vu moment! I realized this is where my grandfather from another line was buried also, I was pretty darn sure! Ok, have to ask about him also. After giving the pertinent information about my great grandparents, I was almost immediately given their plot numbers and information. Sooooo excited! It was explained to me that the rows and how the numbers work in that area was different from the norm. Instead of the numbers going left to right, the numbers work up and down. Ok, no problem on my end! Then I asked about my grandfather and had enough info, that yes, he was buried there, and his info was handed to me as well.

Off we went to the first area. I expected my ggrandparents (John and Gladys Miner) to be buried next to each other, so I figured if I could find one easily, the next one would be a drop in the bucket, right? I started at the bottom of the area, found the correct range of numbers and started walking up the hill. The numbering system made NO sense at all! It seemed there were two rows of correct numbers going up the hill. I checked them all. My family wasn't found. I rechecked and my husband also walked and looked for their site. We walked the whole section in fact, and I was so very disappointed as we found nothing.

I asked my husband to take us to the other area where I could see my grandfather's headstone. We found the area, but WOW, was it hugh! I almost accidentally found the general numbers and followed them, but then, no more plots and no grandfather. I was getting beat by this time, and it takes a lot to get me beat, I usually have major determination. I had my husband take me back to the office.

They were surprised to see me back in the office and even more surprised when I hadn't found any of the grave sites. Out came their maps. Copies of their maps, copies (large) taped together and given color coding. Wow, I should be able to find them now!

My grandfather, they understood why I couldn't find his, he was at the top of the hill, not the bottom, sort of out of sequence. After the numbers of his site there is an "A" which has to do with cremations. Anyway, I had a good idea now where he was, we were so close and yet so far at one point earlier.

Off we go, back to the first section we were in. I had in my mind exactly how to do this. Start from the side and find the correct names, count to the correct grave. Well, I started out trying this, but then my husband "knew better" so we eventually got messed up, and then I thought I knew better, at our already messed up stage and we got more messed up! I started over, and suggested my husband let me do it my way.

On the map, I found the first name and started counting my way past names to see where Gladys should be. Wow, I remember seeing that grave...right next to it was where my ggrandmother was suppose to be. I got it! I started my counting sideways, up and down and all of a sudden I found it! Here it is!

[There should be a picture here. If the picture was here, you would see dirt, and only dirt!]

Oh, disappointment struck, big time. No marker, nothing, nada, zip. To make matters worse, apparently this husband and wife weren't even buried next to each other! I need to find the other grave. Well, it looks like there should be four rows of these numbers going up and down the hill, not two. Looking at the map that was made for me, I realized some headstones were partially under dirt and the the reason you couldn't see the rows straight was because the headstones were missing or not there at all. I eventually finally found the grave site of my ggrandfather. Here is a picture of it:

[There should be a picture here. If the picture was here, you would see dirt again, and only dirt.]

Oh...I was so very disappointed, again. Neither if my ggrandparents had a headstone. I wanted to make sure there really wasn't any headstones, maybe they had been covered and buried, dirt has been creeping down the hillside. I could see no sign of headstones, not even buried. I felt so ill. No wonder we couldn't find them the first time we looked. I thought of the possibility there may not be a headstone, but in my heart I didn't want it to be so. This is the first time I have run across a burial site within my own family where there hasn't been a headstone, and now suddenly, there were two at once.

I needed to see my grandfather's, J.L. Fleming, resting place. I found his this time very quickly, and was able to take pictures at least of his marker, and clean the grave site. The marker also shows his wife and her dates. The picture-

[The picture should be here. The headstone of my grandfather and his wife]

Now, to make matters even worse, as I wrote this and looked to upload the pictures, I couldn't find them. I was sure I had downloaded them off my camera, but then I remembered I hadn't actually done that yet, so off I went for my camera. I can not find my camera, anywhere! My husband and I have looked all over for it. We have retraced our steps as best we could. I certainly hope it turns up, somewhere. At least I can go back and retake these photos, it wasn't like I was in another country or anything. The camera wasn't real expensive, but I love it. (It is not the new one I got for Christmas-thank goodness) I remember bringing the camera back to the car when we were done, and even took a few photos on the way out, so I know I had it then. Sure ruined my blog post though, I had it all figured out!

Now, it looks like I WILL have to go back to Mountain View Cemetery, if for no other reason than to replace the photos I took this past Saturday. I will also be checking into the proper procedure to eventually have headstones place for each of my great grandparents, John Clayton Miner and Gladys Amy [Richmond] Miner. It saddens me to think they aren't buried together and the family was so poor they couldn't buy them headstones. Was I not suppose to have pictures of their grave sites? Is this why it was so very difficult finding them and now having my camera disappear? I wonder, so much...


Jeannie said...

Congrats on finding your family there at Mountain View. Isn't that just the largest cemetery you've ever seen! I don't get out there often but it would be so cool if I were to bump into you there!

P.S. That's too bad about your camera. I hope that you find it.

P.P.S. I may have a question or two regarding the form to fill out for joining the Graveyard Rabbit. I do know how I want to do the blog though. :D

dustbunny8 said...

Oh Cheryl,I feel so bad for you!I know exactly how you feel because this has been the norm in my California family.It's like they have been forgotten completely.But not any more,we came along and we found them and we will remember them.

Jeannie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kathryn Doyle said...

So disappointing! I've had this happen to me before so I know exactly what you mean. When you come again, please let me know. Mountain View is close by and I have taken photos there for findagrave.

Greta Koehl said...

Wow, and I thought I had a tough day at a cemetery when I couldn't get enough light for a good picture! This article should go into the "Graveyard Rabbit Primer" - Things that Can Happen to You When You Visit a Graveyard.

Deez said...

I looooooove Mountain View as you know. I had a similar experience with my grandfather at a different cemetery. Apparently he and my grandmother are cremated and buried together. She has a marker and he doesn't. I will be doing the same in either making something myself or having something placed. But I'll talk to you on FB about Mountain View...

Cheryl Palmer said...

Hi Jeannie, it is a hugh cemetery! Thanks for the congrats! One day we will hook up, somewhere, even if we plan it! :-) I am hoping to still find my camera, but it is looking very doubtful. I do believe we discussed what you wanted to know as far as the GYR, but if you have any more questions, please ask! Thanks for the comment!

Hi dustbunnie8, I feel so sad for you, if you have the same issues! Thank goodness though we are who we are and enjoy what we do!We will remember them! Thank you for the comment!

Hi Kathryn, it was disappointing, but we all have those moments don't we? I was more shocked than anything I think, but yes very disappointed also. I planned to go back anyway, so taking more pictures will just be on the agenda, and we all like that right? The more pictures the better! I will give you a head's up if I can when I head back, thanks so much Kathryn!

Hi Greta, you know things can always be so much worse, I am grateful for the good things that happened during that day! I learned a lot and saw so much! And now,there is just so much more I want to! You are to funny though! :) Thank you for that!

Cheryl Palmer said...

Hi Deez, now I know why you like Mountain View Cemetery so much! It is beautiful! I think many of us genealogists have some sort of story in the family regarding a cemetery or family burial. I think the shock and surprise when we find out about the issue, is the toughest part. Look forward to hearing more on FB! Thank you for the comment!