Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saint Mary's Cemetery

G.E. Lubatti, 1923-1924

Next door to the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland is Saint Mary's Cemetery. It's a Catholic cemetery serving parishes in Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda, and opened in 1863, two years before Mountain View.

I mentioned St. Mary's in last week's taphophile tragics post. It's where Domingo Ghirardelli moved his granddaughter's body from after a priest had refused to administer last rites as she lay dying.

There's a lot of other Oakland history represented in St. Mary's, though. It's the resting place of Edward and Virginie Rémillard. You may recall the Rémillard name from the Preservation Park walking tour. One of his brothers started a brick company in Oakland, and the company's bricks were used all over the Bay Area. Interestingly, most of the Rémillards are buried in Mt. View with Pierre, but Edward and Virginie are in St. Mary's. Read more about the Rémillards on Wikipedia and at Lives of the Dead.

One of most significant names in Oakland history is Peralta. Luís María Peralta was a soldier for the Spanish government in Mexico, and was given a large land grant which included most of the East Bay. According to Beth Bagwell's Oakland: The Story of a City, about 75 members of the Peralta family are buried in St. Mary's. And of course Peralta Hacienda in East Oakland is now a museum and historical site.

Lugrezia Vinella, 1921-1922

Knowing a little more about graves now, I noticed different things looking at various graves. There are lots of beautiful markers and even a number of larger mausoleums, though smaller than those at Mt. View. There are lots of 'standard' grave symbols used in the cemetery (no Masonic symbols, of course), though many more that are associated with Catholicism, like the Blessed Virgin. As with older graves in other cemeteries, the markers frequently list the birth country of person, e.g., "natives of County Galway, Ireland".

But I saw a couple things that I hadn't seen as much of before, including text in the native tongue of the deceased's family -- there were a fair number of markers in Italian. There were also a lot of markers with pictures of the deceased affixed. I saw a few of those in Mt. View and the Home of Eternity, but there are many of them in St. Mary's.

Lots more pictures:

More Tapophile Tragics from around the world.


Oakland Daily Photo said...

Very informative post, Gene. Your slideshow is fab. I rarely go to St.Mary's but you're making me rethink this.

Julie said...

Yes, agree with Carolyn re the slide show. Some great shots included. I love the marker that says 'Our Daddy'. There is anothe shot of an anchor with an entwirled snake. Any idea of this symbolism, Gene? Now that I know symbolism has an overarching meaning, I am seeing more and more of it.

Your historical cemeteries contain more flamboyant foreign names than ours do. We have mainly English, Irish and Scottish, with a few Italian and Greek creeping into the historic era. I must go find me a Chinese section. That would be of historic interest, too.

I have planned a cemetery excursion this coming Sunday, so shall try out my new found knowledge.

Many thanks for this contribution to Taphophile Tragics, Gene. I adore the level of detail, and the love and effort you clearly expend.

Julie said...

Me again.

I went into Flickr and took a more detailed look at the 73 (!) images that make your slide-show. Such wonderful variety. What strikes me about St Mary's (and some other north American cemeteries) is the immaculate grasslands surrounded and between the markers. So well tended. Not a blade of grass out of place.

Also, here our graves are often delineated by wrought iron fences about thigh high. St Marys does not have this. I guess it is a case of vive la difference!

Gene said...

re: the anchor, my MV source says an anchor means hope, though sometimes it's just on the grave of a sailor.

Grave Addiction goes into more detail, with Hope or eternal life. Often on sailors' graves. Anchors are also a Masonic symbol for well-grounded hope, therefore they are often found on Masons' graves.

I've seen the iron fences in graveyards in England, but I don't recall having seen it around here. Maybe in the eastern U.S.

Saint Mary's is fairly big at 42 acres (0.17 sq. km), but neighboring Mt. View (where I've posted 250+ photos, and still have more to explore) is 5 times larger at 220 acres (0.91 sq.km) Which makes it all the more amazing they keep them in good shape, though some of the older graves in both are in need of some attention.

hamilton said...

I like to see the subtle differences from other areas. The wording of "native of Portugal" would probably not appear on our headstone instead saying "born in Portugal". I still need to do a lot of research into the markings of grave stones.