Tuesday, January 10, 2012

taphophile tragics #3: Aurelia Ghirardelli

Herein lies the tale of how the Ghirardelli family of chocolate fame ended up buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Domingo Ghirardelli was born in Italy, and came to the SF Bay Area by way of Uruguay where he opened a confectionery, and changed his name from the Italian Domenico to the Spanish Domingo. After a short stint in the gold fields near Jamestown and Sonora trying prospecting, he returned to San Francisco and founded the signature business.

In 1879, his teenage granddaughter Aurelia became gravely ill, and the Catholic priest refused to administer the last rites. There are several stories as to why: it was raining too hard, or the priest felt Ghirardelli hadn't given enough to the church, or one story says the priest was drunk. In any event, the girl died without receiving last rites. Domingo's wife Carmen was devastated, and Domingo forbid the family from entering a Catholic church again.

Domingo had the Ghirardelli mausoleum in Mountain View built, including a Masonic symbol above the door. The Vatican forbids Catholics from being Freemasons, so this was doubtless very intentional. Then in the middle of the night, Domingo and his sons took a wagon to St. Mary's Catholic cemetery and moved the Ghirardellis buried there (including Aurelia) to Mountain View next door.

Domingo died in 1894 during a trip to Italy. His bodied was returned to Oakland and buried in the Mountain View Cemetery.

Read more on the Lives of the Dead site.

More Tapophile Tragics from around the world.


Gene said...

Tip of the hat to @Fritinancy for catching my misspelling of Ghirardelli. She has a wonderful blog where she examines "Names, brands, writing, and the language of commerce."

Julie said...

A tremendously difficult name to spell. We do not have that brand of chocolate in Australia.

I like the tortuous route that he took to get to the USA. Nowadays, we would label him a 'boat-person', which has massively negative connotations here in Australia.

These mausoleums must be confronting to enter into. I can image that they are stuffy and dingey, and smell unusual. Many of those I have seen (from the outside) here in our cemeteries do not appear to have been entered for many years.

Thank you for your continued participation in Taphophile Tragics. I value the connection.

Red Nomad OZ said...

What a fascinating story! Just goes to show that too much chocolate won't make you happy ...

I'm glad @Fritinancy hasn't visited my blog - she'd probably give up in disgust!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

this is interesting - this journey to California by way of Uruguay. I found the same trajectory for one of the LA city founders related to my Tapophile post. (It's down right not - like wiki - I'm protesting).

And the free mason sign being anti-catholic is also interesting to me. My grandfather was high up in the freemason order and hated catholics. Fought to keep them out of General Electric, whose membership within, I believe, was required in order to go up the ranks.