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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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meet A Rabbit #22

It is time to meet another of our wonderful Graveyard Rabbits! This time meet The Graveyard Rabbit of Cowtown, Ruth Stephens! Read about her journey here at the Association site and enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Story of Oak Knoll Cemetery in Livermore - Part 1

My husband introduced me to the fact that there once was a cemetery on the corner by where my children went to high school. I have lived in this city for over twenty years and was unaware of this fact. All I knew was that this area is currently known as “Boot Hill.” Very interesting indeed! With the assistance of my husband, some researching and reading, I have learned more about this cemetery that has disappeared. Let me tell you the story…

On the outskirts of Livermore there once was a cemetery named Oak Knoll. It was located on a small hill (knoll) of about 40 feet surrounded by otherwise flat land. The area was filled with oak trees, which makes it very clear how it received its name.

Many of the early pioneers to this valley were buried here. Reportedly, in the book “Centennial Year Book of Alameda County” by William Haley, the father of the founder of the city of Livermore was the first person buried here, William Mendenhall, Senior, on January 12, 1873. This book was published in 1876. (The statement can be found on page 349)

The wife of a descendant of William Mendenhall’s claims “This was evidently the first Mendenhall cemetery, for Mendenhall’s were buried there from November 1855, when Sophia, daughter of Martin Mendenhall (William’s brother) was buried there.” This was so stated by Mrs. James Swent. This statement is listed in a report in the Livermore Heritage Guild Newsletter on January 1988.

It has been said that William’s obituary notice refers to William as the first person to be buried in the “new cemetery at Oak Knoll.”

According to a copy of an 1874 map, the land surrounding the cemetery was owned by three Mendenhall brothers. They were William (Phil), Martin, and Absolom. I am not sure which of the brother’s donated some of their land for the cemetery. From what I have read it sounds like two of the brother's possibly donated the land, William "Phil" and Martin. The old map supposedly shows they would have been the ones who owned the property were the cemetery was located. This has not been verified with county records.

Accordingly then, Sophia was buried on the land when the brother’s owned it, “The Mendenhall Cemetery.” After they donated some of their land and it became “Oak Knoll Cemetery," William was the first person to be buried there.

Along with Mendenhall (we have a middle school named after this family) there were other important pioneers buried at Oak Knoll. Henry Clay Smith was considered the “Father of Alameda County.” He died in 1876. Henry C. Smith, the father of Emma C. Smith (there is an elementary school named after Emma) also had a final resting place at Oak Knoll. A physician in the area for 46 years by the name of Dr. William Stewart Taylor was also buried there in 1931. He was the last person to be buried at Oak Knoll.

Apparently there were at least 87 people buried in this cemetery, but there were many unmarked, broken and undecipherable markers. The last sexton of the cemetery left inadequate information. Because of these things, there has never been an accurate account of records, so it may never be known how many people were actually buried there, nor who they all were.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Be Aware! Safety Reminder!

There was a newscast last night which discussed an issue going on in Northern California cemeteries. I thought I would remind you all and give you a heads up about this, maybe it will save someone from some stress.

There has been a series of purse snatchings at a cemetery or cemeteries in Colma. Women would leave their purse in their unlocked car, thinking they were so close, and no one was around, so it shouldn't be a problem. Wrong! A car would come by, a man would get out, open the unsuspecting persons car door, snatch the purse, hop back in the car, and be gone in a flash. The get away driver would do the job he/she needed to in order not to be caught. It happened to one woman who was no more than a few feet from her car.

This seems like a common sense issue, but, do you lock the car door when you get out to wander or take pictures? I know I have left my purse in the car unlocked, and ended up wandering further away from my car than originally intended. Always be prepared! Make sure if there are any valuables in your car when you leave it, lock the door!

One of the women this happened to wouldn't let her face be seen on the news, she is afraid of retaliation. I am sure at country cemeteries especially, you feel pretty darn safe, I know I do in city cemeteries I attend most of the time. Usually they are so quiet and I can't see anyone else anywhere. But, maybe that is when we should be more aware! You never know when a car will suddenly pull out from somewhere and try to make you his victim.

With the economy the way it is, these robberies don't really surprise me. They are however, a good reminder for us Graveyard Rabbits and others, to pay attention to our surroundings and be safe. Really now, can't you imagine how easy it would be to get robbed at a quiet, lonely cemetery?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter, Rabbits, and Graves?

With the Easter Holiday coming up, and this being a "Graveyard Rabbit" blog, I thought I would blend the three and share some pictures of "rabbits" adorning headstones. These pictures were all taken at Roselawn Cemetery in Livermore, California on February 6, 2009 by me. Enjoy and wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

Meet A Rabbit #21

Our next "Meet a Rabbit", our 21st, introduces Amy Crooks, the author of Untangled Family Roots. She tells quite a story about her life, how she got involved in genealogy and cemeteries. You can read the article about Amy here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Roger Breyhan

Roger Breyhan Headstone. March 20, 2009. Lone Tree Cemetery. Digital Image. Privately held by Cheryl [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] California. 2009

Roger Edward Breyhan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 5, 1936. He passed of a massive heart attack on April 20, 1997 in Alameda County, California. Roger was my “Uncle In Law” whom unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet. I recently found out he was buried at Lone Tree Cemetery in Hayward. My aunt was kind enough to take me up there to show me exactly where he rests.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogy treasure hunts!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Second Graveyard Rabbit Carnival

The second edition of this carnival is now available for your perusal! This carnival focuses on burial customs. Seven of our illustrious rabbits turned in a post for this carnival. You can hop on over here to read them all! Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Meet A Rabbit #20

The 20th Meet a Rabbit article has been posted. This week you are introduced to Sheri Fenley who writes at "The Educated Graveyard Rabbit." You can read about her here! Hope you enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday - Modena A. Hardin

Modena A. Hardin memorial. October 24,2008. Digital image by Cheryl. Located at Pleasanton Pioneer Cemetery. Privately held by Cheryl [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] California 2009.