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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.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Meet a Rabbit #38

Introduction to Graveyard Rabbit #38 has been posted! You can read about Dorene Paul "The Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay" here.

Can you believe all of the Graveyard Rabbits there are? Hope you enjoy this introduction, there are more to come!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oak Knoll Cemetery ~ Part 4 ~ They found WHAT in their Backyard?

Last weekend there was an article printed in our local newspaper that just about blew me away! If you have been following this blog at all, you are aware that I have been writing a series of posts about the Oak Knoll Cemetery in Livermore, California. If you remember correctly, I spoke about the Mendenhall’s in these posts, that they were the founders of Livermore and owned the property where Oak Knoll Cemetery used to be? If you haven’t read this series of posts, I suggest you stop now, and read that series first before you continue on reading here. You can find the posts here. Start at the bottom with post number one and move up with each post.

Now that you are caught up on the series, I will continue with this article that was in the newspaper.

The story centers in El Monte, California, which is in L.A. County. A home on Crossvale Avenue had been occupied with new owners. A field deputy, Jorge Morales, receives an unusual email, requesting help in exhuming a 136 year old body from this property!

It appears that the new owners found a historic tombstone in the backyard of their new home, hidden behind a shed. Now, are you ready for who this historic tombstone belonged to? None other than William Mendenhall, the father of the founder (also William) of Livermore!

Mr. Morales found out through city officials that the county coroner can only exhume the body if there is a court order OR with permission from next of kin. In his attempt to find next of kin, he soon came to realize that the body of William Mendenhall was buried 350 miles away. They state they are not so sure how the headstone got so far away, but I can take a guess! I am sure you can also, if you have read the series I have been posting.

In the meantime, once Livermore found out about the tombstone of William Mendenhall, they stated that they wanted it back! This was an important piece of Livermore’s history and they would love to have it back.

The younger William Mendenhall established Livermore in 1869 in the hopes of capitalizing on construction of the final leg of the transcontinental railroad, according to this article. The article goes on to explain that his father died four years later, where he was buried and much of the same information about the flooding, Chinese immigrants, the 1906 earthquake, etc., which I have blogged about previously.

Remember earlier it was stated that it was unknown how the headstone got so far away from where William was buried? Well, later in the article it says, it is believed that when Oak Knoll was no longer a cemetery and the loose tombstones were taken to the city yard, a great grandson of Mendenhall, Chester Langan, picked up the headstone. Public records states that a Chester Langan lived at this particular address in El Monte in the 1990’s. This is exactly where my mind had gone. A relative must have picked it up from the city yard!

Efforts were made to reach the family of Chester to no avail. The Livermore Heritage Guild offered payment to have the tombstone shipped home. The tombstone is to be placed in the city’s historic center. It won’t be added back to Mendenhall’s plot, as the property is now a park and not a cemetery, but the tombstone will be in the correct town. It is believed that Mendenhall’s body is still buried somewhere on the hill where the cemetery once stood, but no one knows for sure. Remember, because of the poor records, not everyone who was buried there could be accounted for. Plus in those days bodies were buried in wooden boxes and after all of this time, the feeling is that the wooden box wouldn’t have held up so well.

Now, what are the odds of this coming to light as I am writing my series on Oak Knoll Cemetery and the Mendenhall’s? Timing was unbelievable!

The article is in the Tri Valley Herald Newspaper. Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, California. Saturday June 20, 2009. Page A1, continued on page A11.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ~ Thorn

William P. Thorn Tombstone. February 5, 2009. Roselawn Cemetery, Livermore, California. Digital Image. Held by Cheryl [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] California. 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Meet a Rabbit #36

Graveyard Rabbit #36 is here for you to meet! Her name is Jennifer Dyer and her posts can be found at "City of the Dead." She was a New Orleans resisdent, but after Katrina, she has moved on. Find out about Jennifer!

Meet Rabbit # 35

Have you met the 35th Graveyard Rabbit yet? She author's "The Graveyard Rabbit of Contra Costa County" and her name is Jennifer Regan. Contra Costa County is right next to Alameda County, so we are neighbors! I have had the opportunity to meet Jennifer in person, she is wonderful! You can meet her virtually through her post here! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Buchanan monument. October 27, 2008. Chapel of The Chimes, Hayward, California. Digital Image. Held by Cheryl [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] California. 2009.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Plants

Plants. January 1, 2004. Chapel of the Chimes, Hayward, California. Digital Image. Privately held by Cheryl [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] California. 2009.

Chester Plants was born June 27, 1929. He passed away on March 23, 2003. Geraldine was born March 14, 1929 and passed away on June 10, 1999. Chester and Geraldine were my brother-in-law's parents.

I didn't have the opportunity to spent much time with Geraldine, so I never really got to know her. I found her living in Denver, Colorado when she was about a year old, so maybe she was born there.

Chester's Social Security was issued in West Virginia. I did have the opportunity to know Chester. He was a wonderful man and we got along very well. He loved to tell me stories about when he had motorcycles and how they would keep warm when riding, bundling up in newspapers!

May you both rest in peace!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ~ Hayward

Several different markers. November 6, 2008. Lone Tree Cemetery, Hayward, California. Digital Image. Held by Cheryl [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] California. 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Story of Oak Knoll Cemetery - Part 3

On April 14, 1956 visitors from San Francisco arrived and stated that the condition of the cemetery was appalling! The grass was as high as their waists, cattle were roaming all over the grounds and headstones had been broken and knocked over.

Mr. and Mrs. James W. Swent Jr. saw the cemetery in this condition. Mr. James Swent happened to be a descendant of William Mendenhall. While at the cemetery, the Swent's took inscriptions of the four Mendenhall headstones that could be found. Mrs. Swent wrote to another descendant of William "Phil" Mendenhall, Mr. Chester Langan, and to Mr. Maitland Henry to inform them of the condition in which they saw the cemetery.

Chester Langan went to Livermore and spoke with several people about the condition of the cemetery. Chester removed the headstone of William Mendenhall at that time because he didn't feel anything could be done about the conditions there.

From 1956 until 1962 the Swents visited this cemetery. Their last visit was on December 9, 1962. By this time all of the Mendenhall stones had been removed or broken into bits. There were no signs that Medenhall's had ever been buried here. More desecration had continued to take place. The cattle had disappeared by this time, the grass was lower, but there weren't many stones to be found in the cemetery.

At this point, it was hoped that something would be done by the citizens of the town. A new high school was planned to be built just below the knoll on which the cemetery had been located. It was believed that the pioneer cemetery area should have been kept as a memorial to the pioneers who had developed the valley, and not be kept in the state it was currently in.

In April 1963, Oak Knoll was formally abandoned as a public cemetery. The existing gravestones were removed. If family members could be found, the headstones were given to them to do with as they wished. If family members were not located, the headstones were taken to the city corporation yard.

Oak Knoll Cemetery was no more. The city built heavy wooden play structures and the land was dedicated as a public park. But all to soon the park became dilapidated and most of the structures were torn down.

[Parts of this information was probably written by Mr. and Mrs. James Swent Jr. of San Francisco sometime after December 1962. A copy held by Herb Hagemann, Jr.]
My thanks to the Livermore Heritage Guild and