Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mountain View Cemetery: Founders

Tubbs mausoleum

The day after Christmas is significant for Mountain View Cemetery, as it marks the day when a group of early Oaklanders met in 1863 to discuss the founding of the cemetery. In honor of that meeting, Monday morning there was a special tour of the cemetery, led by docents Stafford Buckley and Michael Colbruno and supported by docent Jane Laroe. All three are extremely knowledgeable about the Mountain View Cemetery, though Michael may be the best known because of his amazing blog, Lives of the Dead, which features history about different individuals and plots around the cemetery.

The group of early Oaklanders was invited to meet at the home of Dr. Samuel Merritt to discuss the need for a new cemetery for Oakland. At the time, Oakland had other cemeteries including one on Webster Street, and where Mountain View Cemetery now sits was almost 2 miles outside of town. But Oakland needed a new cemetery with more space, further from the rapidly growing town.

Merritt mausoleum

The founders were an elite group. I've listed them below, along with links to the corresponding page on Lives of the Dead (LotD).
  • Dr. Samuel Merritt - doctor, businessman, later 13th mayor of Oakland (LotD, Wikipedia)
  • Richard RW Heath - Mexican War hero, vintner, politician; captained ship around Cape Horn (LotD)
  • Rev. Samuel Taggert Wells - preacher, 1st superintendent of Mt. View (LotD)
  • Joseph Stickney Emery - stonecutter, businessman; supervised dredging of Oakland Estuary; founder of Emeryville (LotD)
  • Hiram Tubbs - hotelier east of Lake Merritt, rope maker, landowner (LotD)
  • Addison Crane - judge on cases versus Adams, Carpentier; politician (LotD)
  • George E. Grant - businessman, investor in the Key Route (LotD)
  • Solomon E. Alden - farmer, bank director; owned most of Temescal district (LotD)
  • George Grant monument

  • Jeremiah Whichter - surveyor, mapmaker (LotD)
  • William Faulkner - publisher (LotD)
  • Rev. Isaac Brayton - pastor, early principal of College of California (predecessor of the UC system) (LotD)
  • Gen. Ralph Kirkham - Mexican War hero, businessman, philanthropist; wife Kate helped found Fabiola Hospital (LotD)
  • Joseph Addison Mayhew - sheriff, businessman; oversaw first legal hanging in Alameda County (LotD)

We heard about all of the founders above, lots more than I've listed, so check out the associated links to Lives of the Dead. We also did "drive-bys" of a number of other graves of note, including the Schmidt angel, the yet-to-be-occupied March Fong Eu monument, the Ghiradelli mausoleum, and the Crocker angel. Speaking of the Schmidt angel, check out the nice pic of it recently on the Oakland Daily Photo blog. The Schmidt angel and the Crocker angel are almost identical, though the markers they sit on are very different.

Another blog that was mentioned briefly on Monday was Andrew Alden's Oakland Geology. That was in reference to determining if a large rock was natural or added, by probing the ground below it to see if there's a foundation.

Speaking of Oakland geology, in February, Andrew is scheduled to lead a pair of tours about Oakland geology, one with Oakland Heritage Alliance and the other with Oakland Urban Paths. Both are scheduled for February.

Lots more pictures from the tour:

Related posts:
Mountain View Cemetery: Symbols
Mountain View Cemetery

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