Saturday, May 31, 2008

Elks Lodge Columbarium

[Photos of Elks Columbarium by Michael Colbruno]

This columbarium, in the form of a Grotto, (a cave-like structure)...It is the centerpiece of the Elks plot...It's hard to put a label on this particular style, so we're just going to call it Naturalistic. This unique columbarium, reminiscent of megalith and tumulus styles of neolithic times, was built by the Oakland, California Elks Lodge to house the ashes of departed Elks and their wives. The columbarium which was once covered with ivy is constructed of individual rocks cemented together. The Elks columbarium is also similar to Grottos sometimes seen in Catholic cemeteries. These grottos are reputed to be a good place to go for sightings of the Virgin Mary. A full size bronze elk tops the mountain and brays skyward perhaps signaling the Gods of the Earthly loss and the Heavenly gain of another member of the fraternal order. Surrounding the columbarium are the graves of other Elks and their wives.

---- From Douglas Keister's "Going Out in Style.'

Romanesque Revival Family Mausoleums

[Photo of Romanesque Revival Family Mausoleums by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 28 - Althof, Bahls, Searle, Powell & Stanyan families

If you take a walk with anyone through Mountain View Cemetery they will undoubtedly ask about these stunning family mausoleums. I have provided biographies below (and answered the frequent question, “Are Powell Street and Stanyan Street named after these guys?). As an introduction, here is a description of the structures from Douglas Keister’s wonderful book “Going Out in Style.”

Romanesque architecture first emerged around the 8th century. Near the end of the nineteenth century, American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, incorporated rusticated surfaces with Romanesque architecture...This row of Romanesque Revival mausoleums, nestled into a hillside, is the eternal home of a number of San Francisco’s founding fathers. Although at first glance the mausoleums all appear the same, there are subtle differences. The corner turrets, rusticated masonry and round arches are characteristics of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture of the late nineteenth century.

Herman Althof (1830-1907) was born in Westphalia, Germany and moved to California as an infant. He was one of the owners of the Althof & Bahls bookbinding company in San Francisco. His sister was Elizabeth Bahls.

Alvin Clark Searle – Prominent San Francisco attorney and judge.

Abraham Powell (1828-1895) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a youth he was employed in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and learned the trade of ship-joiner and civil engineer. He made numerous sea journeys in his youth, traveling to the West Indies and Europe.

In 1849, Powell joined the rush to California and boarded the ship "Oseola" in Philaelphia with sixty-four of his fellow pioneers. The ship went around Cape Horn and arrived in San Francisco on August 5, 1849. Upon arrival Powell entered into partnership with a fellow traveler as builders and joiners. Together they constructed numerous houses and buildings around San Francisco.

In 1850, Powell returned to Philadelphia. He was appointed Master Joiner at the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1854. Until 1858 Powell had full control of the yard operations on the Island. He was also Naval Constructor during this period, but continued as Master Joiner down to 1864. In 1865 Powell entered into the private sector and became general manager of the Puget Sound Lumber Company. He first established a retail yard in Vallejo and then extended his operations by building yards in Napa, Suisun, Colusa, and in Yola County. He also owned a redwood mill at Stuarts Point in Sonoma County.

Powell was active in the Masonic Order, both in Philadelphia and California. He served as Mayor of Vallejo for eight years and was a member of the Solano County Board of Supervisors.

Powell Street in San Francisco is not named for this Powell family. It is named for Dr. William J. Powell, a surgeon who established a sanatorium for sick soldiers.

Charles H. Stanyan (1831-1889) was a San Francisco County Supervisor from 1866-1869 and served as one of the first San Francisco Park Commissioners. His major accomplishment in office was helping the city acquire the land on the east side of Golden Gate Park, which is why Stanyan Street is named after him.

The Stanyan family residence at 2006 Bush Street built in 1854 is a San Francisco Historic Landmark. Many prefabricated houses were shipped to San Francisco from New England during the Gold Rush era, but Stanyan's "Boston House" is one of the few that have been positively identified as having been shipped around the treacherous Cape Horn.

Alfred Bourne Nye - California State Controller

[Nye gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 33

Alfred Bourne Nye served as California State Controller from 1906-1913 and died in office. He died of pneumonia, but his co-workers said that he worked himself to death, as Nye was known to work day and night.

Nye was born in Stockton, California in 1853 and was educated at Falmouth Academy in Massachusetts. After a brief stint as a journalist on the east coast, Nye became editor of the Oakland Enquirer in 1884. In 1903, he left the Enquirer to become the private secretary to Governor George Pardee, a former Oakland mayor.

When California State Controller Edward P. Colgan died in 1906, Nye was appointed as his replacement by Governor Pardee. In 1910, he was nominated by both the Republicans and Democrats.

Upon his death, Governor Hiram Johnson stated, “Nye was a martyr to duty. Long after he should have been repairing his health and when his friends were advising a vacation, he stuck to his post, believing his work required his continuous presence. The state has lost one of its most experienced, able and conscientious officers, whose work for many years has been historic.”

Services were Nye were held in the chambers of the California State Assembly. His body was cremated and shipped to Mountain View Cemetery for interment.

Both Alfred Nye and his wife Alice were born on October 25th.

Weeping Willow

[Minnie Owen's Weeping Willow gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 5

Although the form of the weeping willow certainly suggests grief and sorrow, in many religions it suggest immortality. In Christianity it is associated with the gospel of Christ because the tree will flourish and remain whole no matter how many branches are cut off. The willow and urn motif was one of the most popular gravestone decorations of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The willow is also frequently paired with other cemetery symbols such as lambs and crosses.

The center of some lodges in the Far East is known as the "City of Willows," which is an abode of immortality. In Taoist folklore, graves of mythological figures are dug beneath willow trees.

--- from Douglas Keister's "Stories in Stone."

Other sources cite mythological sources for the weeping willow, mainly the story of the underworld goddess Persephone to whom the willow was sacred. The story of Orpheus is also cited, who brought along a willow branch to the underworld.

Osro Clift - Restless Whaler and Mendocino Land Owner

[Gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 14B

Osro Clift was born in Orleans county, New York on April 4, 1823. At the age of 19, he left for an entire year on the whaling ship Dr. Franklin. Shortly after his return, he boarded the whaling ship Phocion for thirty-one months.

After years sailing in the West Indies and Europe, Clift landed in New Orleans where he worked as a police officer for six months. After surviving a bout of cholera in Panama, Clift sailed on the steamer California, and arrived in San Francisco on July 16, 1849. Upon his arrival, Clift headed for the Stockton mining district, but he only stayed for four weeks before setting off to sail the local bays and waterways.

In 1850, the ever-restless Clift went to San Rafael where he built one of the first homes in the area. Again, he didn’t stay long, and after three months he took the helm of the schooner Londressa, serving as both Mate and Captain. After brief stints in Benicia, Corte Madera, and Lagunitus, he settled in Mendocino County where he raised cattle and sheep on 2,040 acres of land.

Cliff Ridge in Mendocino County is named for Clift. It’s on the site where he had bought his ranch property. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names rejected the name “Clift Ridge” and renamed it “Cliff Ridge.”

On February 13, 1865, Clift married Mrs. Margaret Ryan, the widow of Thomas Harper. They had two children, Charlotte, born November 21, 1865; and Lizzie S. born May 15, 1867.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Robert Thompson - Vigilante Judge, Prohibitionist & Orphanage Founder

[Thompson gravestone and Vigilance Committee photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 12

Robert Thompson (1820-1908) was born in Maine. His family were farmers who dated back to Colonial times in Massachusetts. Thompson left with about forty others on the schooner Thomas Walker and arrived in California in the Gold Rush year of 1849.

He initially lived in San Francisco before moving to Mokelumne Hill in Calaveras County where he worked as a judge of vigilantes during the excitement following the death of James King of William in San Francisco. His wife, Caroline Batchelder Thompson, was the first white woman in the county.

He was the vice-president of the Society of California Pioneers and founder of the Good Templars’ Home for Orphans in Vallejo. His wife was one of the managers of the orphanage. The orphanage operated from 1869-1919 and housed about 200 children annually.

The Thompson’s were outspoken advocates for temperance and active in the Prohibitionist Party.

Thompson was injured by a herd of cattle at the orphanage and was crippled permanently. He died there two years later and left his fortune to the institution.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Samuel Haslett - Expanded Warehousing in San Francisco

[Gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno]

Samuel Haslett (1841-1902 )was born in Belfast, Ireland and moved to San Francisco in 1875. He became interested in the warehousing business at the Humboldt Warehouse, previously known as Rincon Point. He founded the Haslett Warehouse Company in 1898, consolidating the operations of three warehouse companies.

His business rapidly expanded as shipping and trade became a major industry on the west coast. The connection of the emerging rail business to shipping lines caused his business to grow rapidly. His warehouses stored liquor, grain, coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco and iron machinery. At one time, it was the largest fruit and vegetable cannery in the world.

After changing hands several times, the Haslett was transferred to the National Park Service in 1978 and was included in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park when it was established in 1988. The Argonaut Hotel now occupies the old warehouse at Hyde and Beach.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Meese Family - Prominent Politicians

[Top photo, Myron Meese; Center photo US Attorney General Edwin Meese III; Bottom photo of Meese Family plot by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 13

Hermann Meese (1826-1912) was born in Hanover, Germany and moved to New Orleans in 1848. After a brief stint in St. Louis, he headed for California and settled in San Francisco where he initially worked as a building contractor.

In 1864, he began work at the Bay Sugar Refinery where he served as President from 1865-1879. He also was in the wine business and founded the United Anaheim Wine Growers’ Association.

He married his wife Anna Margarethe Waldman in 1853 in San Francisco. They had six sons and one daughter, Constant, Edwin, Walter, Hermann, Emma, Gustav and Adolph.

Cornelia Meese (1859-1961) was the wife of Edwin Meese, mother of Edwin Meese, Jr. (1896- 1985 ) and grandmother of U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III (born 1931). She was born to Dutch parents in Grand Rapids, Michigan two years before the start of the American Civil War. Her brother Michael fought for the Union forces. The Meese’s moved to Oakland in 1882 after paying a visit to her father-in-law Herman Meese. A few years after her husband’s death in 1933 she moved to San Francisco to live with her daughter.

Edwin Meese (1857-1933) was an insurance broker who served on the Oakland City Council and as Oakland City Treasurer. He was born in San Francisco, but lived for 54 years in Oakland.

Edwin Meese, Jr. (1896-1985) is the father of former United States Attorney General Edwin Meese III. He was a World War I veteran who went on to serve six terms as Treasurer-Tax Collector of Alameda County. Mr. Meese liked to tell the story of an angry taxpayer who once threw his shirt on Meese's desk, saying ``You've taken everything else, you might as well have my shirt!''

After leaving office he joined Barclay’s Bank in Oakland as a community relations executive. He was married to Leone Meese (1904-1991) with whom he had four sons, Edwin Meese III (born 1931), Myron (1933-1990), George and Clifford (1934-2001).

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Martin Kellogg - University of California President

[Gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno; Kellogg photo from Oakland Tribune]

Plot 13

Martin Kellogg was born in Vernon Connecticut on March 15, 1828. He entered Yale College in 1843, graduating as valedictorian of his class in 1850. After graduation, he studied theology at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

In 1855, he moved to California to work as a home missionary and was subsequently appointed professor of Latin at the College of California. After the school’s merger with the University of California in 1868 he became one of the first professors of the institution along with Mountain View Cemetery denizen and Sierra Club founder John Le Conte.

Like his father, Rev. Ebenezer Kellogg, who taught ancient languages for thirty years at Williams college, the younger Kellogg served as chair of the department of ancient languages until 1874 and dean of the faculties of letters and sciences from 1870-1885.

From 1886 to 1889, he served as president of the University of California. According to Charles Wollenberg's "Berkeley: A City in History," Kellogg's tenure as President was successful:

"The presidency of Martin Kellogg finally brought some administrative stability to the institution. A veteran English professor who had long been active in Berkeley civic affairs, Kellogg had sufficient faculty, Regent, and community contacts to gain acceptance, if not always support. The university also benefited from the educational demands of the nation's emerging industrial economy. In Gold Rush California, for example, mining had been an individual adventure, and most miners were untrained amateurs. By the 1890s, mining had become a major corporate that needed university-trained engineers, geologists and managers...The legislature passed a statewide property tax of one-cent per thousand dollars assessed valuation for university funding, and enrollment began climbing - from slightly more than 200 in the early 1880s to nearly 2000 in 1900."

In 1899 and 1900, Kellogg took a trip around the world.

He died in the Waldeck Sanitarium in San Francisco as a result of complications from surgery to relieve a stomach and liver ailment.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Willis Webb Polk - Architect and Father of Famous Architect

Willis Webb Polk (1836-1906) was the father of famed architect Willis Polk (1867-1924). He was a builder and architect of some note. In 1885, the elder Polk along with his son Willis opened W.W. Polk & Son in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1892, along with another son, Daniel, they opened Polk & Polk in San Francisco. The younger Willis Polk was responsible for creative design, Daniel was in charge of drafting and the father in charge of supervising the construction projects. After Daniel’s departure in 1897 the firm went bankrupt and the elder Polk retired.

Polk was born in Kentucky and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was related to Major General Leonidas Polk, a cousin of President James Knox Polk and a descendant of Robert Morris, one of President George Washington’s financiers. He was known for his fervent advocacy of temperance.

He died at his famous son’s home in Berkeley four months after the death of his wife, Endimial.

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Antoine "Anthony" Chabot - The Water King

[Gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 9

Anthony Chabot (August 13, 1813 – January 6, 1888) was a nineteenth-century businessman and entrepreneur, notable for his contribution to developing hydraulic mining and for building water systems, especially in the Bay Area, so much that he became known as the "Water King".

Chabot was raised on a farm in La Presentation, near Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. He was one of sixteen children and the son of a farmer. When he was sixteen years old, he left home, eventually settling in California in 1849.

He began working in the mining industry in Nevada City, building ditches to supply the mines with water. In 1852 and 1853 he and Edward Matteson, were working at Buckeye Hill and American Hill respectively, devised the first hydraulic mining technology. It consisted of a wooden contraption held together by iron clamps that allowed miners to direct a fifty foot column of water at a gravel bank using a canvas hose, which broke up the gravel and washed it into a series of sluices where the heavy gold flakes settled out of the lighter earth. Though it revolutionized gold mining, the technique also caused severe environmental damage. The vast quantities of sediment that were released in the blasting washed downstream, burying homes and farmland. Angry farmers eventually brought an end to hydraulic mining when they scored a victory in federal court in 1884.

In 1854 Chabot also established two sawmills in Sierra County. Two years later he abandoned the mining business and went to San Francisco, where he built the city’s first public water system, bringing the waters of Lobos Creek into San Francisco. This led to projects supplying other cities with water, including Portland, Maine and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Chabot founded the Contra Costa Water Company in 1866, which developed a monopoly on supplying water to Oakland and neighboring areas. First he built a dam at Temescal Creek, creating Lake Temescal. He began work on an even larger dam at San Leandro Creek before the Temescal dam was even completed. In 1870, his company completed a dam of San Leandro Creek, creating a reservoir that would later be named Lake Chabot, in present-day Castro Valley.

Mountain View Cemetery docent Peg Stone discusses Anthony Chabot:

In or about 1869, Chabot built waterworks for the city of San Jose, and about the same time constructed those for the supply of Vallejo. He was involved in several other businesses during this time, including a paper mill in Stockton, the Judson Manufacturing Company in Oakland, the Pioneer Pulp Mill Company near Alta (Placer County), the Puget Sound Iron Company, and a large tract of land in Washington state for the cultivation of cranberries.

In 1883, Chabot donated a telescope and the fund to build an observatory to the city of Oakland. The observatory was to be named Oakland Observatory but quickly became known as the Chabot Observatory. The original observatory was built in Lafayette Square, near downtown Oakland, and was moved in 1915 to the Oakland hills. In 2000 it has undergone another move to the top of the hills and significant expansion and is now known as the Chabot Space & Science Center. Other charitable activities included building housing for veterans in Yountville and a shelter in Oakland for unemployed women and daycare for the children of working women.

Chabot’s first wife Ellen, whom he married in 1854, was the love of his life, but she died giving birth to their daughter Ellen “Nellie” the following year. In 1870 he married Mary Ann Bachellor in Maine. Nellie was devoted to her stepmother whom Chabot largely ignored in this marriage of convenience, and lived quietly and almost reclusively with her until Mary Ann’s death in 1894, six years after Chabot died.

Once she was free to live her own life as an heiress, the 39-year-old Ellen had a complete change of lifestyle. She dressed in the height of fashion and traveled widely. To the surprise of many she fell in love with a former business associate of her father, Henry Bothin, a 55-year-old divorced father of three. He was president of Judson Manufacturing Company, former business associate of her father, a major San Francisco and Marin landowner, and member of the Claremont Country Club. Henry Bothin died in 1923, Ellen in 1965 at 99. They are buried in the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

James Townsend - Lumber Pioneer

[Gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno; Center photo of train used to haul redwood from the L.E. White Lumber Company; Bottom photo of the L.E. White Lumber Company]

Plot 6

James Townsend (1830-1900) was a pioneer lumberman who was the superintendent of the L.E. White Lumber Company in Mendocino County. He arrived from Lowell, Massachusetts in the Gold Rush year of 1849. He sailed from Boston on April 5th aboard the Areatus around Cape Horn, arriving in San Francisco on September 22nd.

He dabbled in mining, but gave it up after having only minor success. He took off for the Sandwich Islands and returned in 1852, where he started working for G.M. Burnham’s saw mill in Woodside, California. In 1853, Townsend became the superintendent of the mill and soon opened his own mill nearby. Two years later, he moved to Mendocino County and continued his work as a superintendent of the Albion Mill and later the Noyo Mill.

In December 1859, he married Martha Milton and they had two sons, James and Fred.

In 1861, he began his association with Lorenzo E. White, working at a number of his business entities including the mill and the Salmon Creek Railroad Company. The home for the executives of the L.E. White Lumber Company is now the Elk Cove Inn, a bed and breakfast overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Townsend's gravestone epitaph simply reads, "A Pioneer."

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Robert Watt - Miner, Politician, Businessman

[Photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 33

Robert Watt (1832-1907) was a native of Scotland who arrived in California in 1851 where he amassed a fortune in mining.

Watt was also a political and business figure of note. He served as California’s State Bank Commissioner and State Controller (1867-1871), but retired from politics in the 1870s.

He became one of the prime promoters of the San Joaquin Valley Railroad, which later became the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railway Company. He was president of the drug firm Langley & Michaels at the time of his death. He also served as vice-president and director of the Union Trust Company, director of the San Francisco Savings Union and a director of the Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank.

Watt was riding in a carriage with his wife in San Francisco when a Sutter Street street car hit them. Their carriage was flipped completely around, tossed over the curb and shattered to pieces. Although he survived the accident he died of heart failure five months later.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

David Stockton McDougal - Naval Hero

[Gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno; the USS McDougal; portrait of McDougal; the Wyoming]

Plot 17

Rear Admiral David Stockton McDougal (1809-1882) was born in Ohio and was an officer in the United States Navy during the period of the American Civil War.

In 1828, he was appointed midshipman and over the next three decades he served in the Mediterranean, West Indies and Home Squadrons, as well on the Great Lakes in Michigan. He commanded three ships, the Warren (1854-56), John Hancock (1856) and the Wyoming (1862-64).

His greatest accomplishments occurred while commandeering the Wyoming, as he protected American merchant ships from pirates and Confederate raiders. In 1862, the Wyoming under McDougal’s command, joined the hunt for the elusive CSS Alabama in the western Pacific. Although he allegedly came within 25 miles of the Alabama, he never caught up with the ship. Instead, McDougal was told to head to Japan.

On July, 16, 1863, during the naval battle of Shimonoseki, the Wyoming boldly entered the Straits of Shimoneseki to engage shore batteries and three ships of Prince Mori, clan chieftain of the Choshu. During the 75 minute battle, McDougal sank one ship, heavily damaged the other two, and pounded shore guns. This victory protected American treaty rights in the western Pacific.

Many historians assert that this was one of the greatest naval victories in our history, despite being largely forgotten today. McDougal, for all of his efforts, received no promotion and not even contemporary fame among his countrymen, as 1863 was a crucial year of the Civil War, and his exploits in far-away Japan were lost in bloody battles raging at home. As Theodore Roosevelt once said of this fight, "Had that action taken place at any other time than during the Civil War, its fame would have echoed all over the world."

On December 23, 1869, McDougal assumed command of the South Pacific Squadron. He retired on September 27, 1871 and was appointed rear admiral on August 24, 1873.

He died on August 7, 1882 in San Francisco and two ships have been named the USS McDougal in his honor.

If you're a Civil War buff, check out the blog at

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Captain Murray Davis - Founder of Camp Winfield Scott

[Photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 6

Captain Murray Davis (18??-1877) was a member of the 8th United States Cavalry, Company A. Along with Lieutenant John Lafferty, his second in command, he established Camp Winfield Scott, on December 12, 1866 in Paradise Valley. The camp was created to protect travelers and settlers from the Native Americans, who were feuding with new arrivals. The camp was abandoned in February 1871.

This is from a June 1867 Secretary of War report:
On the 17th of January, 1867, in accordance with post orders issued by Captain Murray Davis, at Camp Winfield Scott, Nevada, Second Lieutenant John Lafferty, Sergeants J. Kelley and Edward Flanigan, and twelve privates of the eighth United States cavalry, started on a scout after Indians. On the 18th two Indians were killed and a rancheria and some provisions destroyed. On the 21st the command returned to Camp Scott. During the expedition severe storms of snow and rain were encountered and much suffering endured by the men, the cold being extreme. Sargeant Kelley was wounded in the hand by and arrow. Lieutenant Lafferty and the non-commissioned officers and men of his detachment are much commended by Captain Davis for their energy and perseverance, and for the faithful manner in which they carried out the instructions given them.

There are also records of a Captain Murray Davis who was involved in the investigation of the treatment of former slaves after their emancipation following the Civil War. I have not been able to confirm if he is the same person who was at Camp Scott.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mary Park Benton - California's First Woman Painter; Zinc Gravestone

[Gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno; Benton picture from Oakland Tribune]

Plot 10

Mary Park Benton (1815-1910) was a noted artist, educator and activist. Born in Boston, she was educated in New York City and started her art education at the age of eight with drawing classes.

In 1855, she traveled to California to join her husband who had arrived three years earlier. She began teaching Sunday school and art classes to raise money for the church restoration.

She established a reputation as an outstanding painter of landscapes, portraits, still lifes and mission subjects. Benton and Abby Tyler Oakes (1823-1898) were the state's first two professional women artists.

In June 2006, her painting “Yosemite Valley” was stolen from the Pioneer Congregational Church in Sacramento, which was founded by her brother-in-law John Augustine Benton. The canvas was valued at $100,000. [UPDATE: A man who was helping his friend move out of his apartment near the UC Davis Medical Center saw the painting, which had been covered with a sheet. He recognized the painting from news reports and reported it to authorities. The man said that he had been robbed before and knew what it felt like, so he did "the right thing." The church now has the painting back.]

Her gravestone is made of zinc, which were primarily produced between 1874-1914 and were marketed as a cheaper and more durable alternative to marble.

William Henry "W.H." Bovee (1824-1894) - Coffee Pioneer & Oakland Mayor

[Photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 4, Lot 251

William Henry Bovee was born in New York City in 1823. On his mother's side of the family he was related to the Knickerbockers of New York. He graduated from Kethchum School #7 at the age of 15 and moved to Sandusky, Ohio where he worked as a clerk in his uncle's boot and shoe making shop. At age 19, he married Elizabeth Marshall.

Bovee did not like Ohio and promptly returned to New York where found a fulfilling job at a coffee warehouse. He then accepted a job with Hope Mills, one of the leading coffee and spice companies in the country. However, after hearing about the discovery of gold in California, he boarded the Apollo on January 12, 1849 and set sail for San Francisco. He disembarked in Rio de Janeiro and finished his journey aboard the Xylon.

Bovee tried his hand in the gold fields near Sutter's Mill but after sending one of his men to buy provisions and losing all of his money, he decided to return to the coffee trade he had learned in New York. In 1850, William Bovee opened the first coffee roasting plant in San Francisco located at Broadway and Dupont . One of his employees was a 27-year-old named Jim Folger. There was no roast coffee then available in northern California and ground coffee was unheard of in the mining camps.

Bovee called his new business the Pioneer Steam Coffee & Spice Mill although there was no steam engine and the mill was often powered by Jim Folger’s hands. From his time digging for gold Bovee knew that ground coffee, ready to brew, was what busy miners would want. He roasted, ground and packaged ready-to-brew coffee in labeled tins. In 1859, Bovee sold his coffee company to Folger, who had gone to Auburn and struck gold. [Some accounts list the sale as 1865]. Bovee reinvested $250,000 in mining interests in Calaveras County and lost nearly everything.

Upon his return, he lived in Oakland for awhile and dabbled in politics. He was staunchly pro-Union and was elected to the Board of Alderman, Oakland City Council and Board of Education. Bovee served as Mayor of Oakland in 1863 and 1864.

According to the Alameda County History, Bovee also served on the original Board of Directors of Mountain View Cemetery founded in June 1863, but he was not on the Mountain View Cemetery Association founded in December 1863:

Mountain View cemetery...was selected and purchased in the latter part of the year 1863; it consisted of about two hundred acres and comprised a vale among the foothills. It was situated about a mile and a half east of Oakland. The following constituted the first board of directors: Hiram Tubbs, Dr. Samuel Merritt, J. A. Emery, Rev. I. H. Brayton, William Faulkner, S. E. Alden, Rev. T. S. Wells, G. E. Grant, J. E. Whitcher, Major R. W. Kirkham, W. H. Bovee, Henry Robinson...In December, 1863, a few men formed an organization under the name of the Mountain View Cemetery Association. The first trustees were: Hiram Tubbs, Geo. E. Grant, A. M Crane, J. A. Mayhew, Rev. S. T. Wells, S. E. Alden, Rev. H. I. Brayton, Dr. S. Merritt, J. E. Whitcher, R. W. Heath, Wm. Faulkner and J. S. Emery. Early in 1864 the association completed the organization and elected Dr. Samuel Merritt, president, J. E. Whitcher, secretary, and Hiram Tubbs, treasurer.

In 1868, Bovee entered the real estate business with great success. In 1885, he created a real estate firm with his son-in-law called Bovee, Toy & Company Real Estate.

Bovee died from marasmus in 1894.

Peter Thomson - Haberdasher, Councilman, Cemetery Trustee

[Photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 4

Peter Thomson (1824-1901) was born in Elmburg, Scotland in 1824 and sailed for New York in 1848. He operated a haberdashery for three years before embarking for San Francisco where he opened a store. He retired in 1879 and moved to Oakland.

After moving to Oakland he bought and sold property, served on the city council in 1881 and 1882, served as president of the St. Andrew’s Society and was a trustee of Mountain View Cemetery from 1888-1901.

Dr. John Knox McLean - Religious Leader; Maclean's Cross

Dr. John Knox McLean was born in Jackson, N.Y. and graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1861. That same year he married Sarah Hawley of Salem, N.Y. and he was ordained pastor of the Congregational Church of Fairview, N.Y. He went on to pastor in Springfield, Illinois..

Fascinated by the Transcontinental Railroad and tales of the West, McLean visited California in 1871 and immediately fell in love with its splendors. In April 1872, the couple moved to Oakland, CA where he became pastor of the First Congregational Church in Oakland. He remained in that post until 1895. Under his leadership, church membership increased from 241 to 1183 and a new church had to built. In 1901, he became the President of the School of Religion.

He considered his important work his involvement with the Pacific Theological Seminary, where joined the Board of Trustees in 1873 and served as President from 1880-1910. McLean believed that in order for the Seminary to thrive, it needed to move from Oakland to Berkeley, where it could establish a close relationship with the University of California. In 1912, he was elected President Emeritus of the Seminary.

McLean became good friends with Mountain View Cemetery denizen Joseph Le Conte, founder of the Sierra Club. He became a charter member of the organization and even contributed to the Sierra Club Bulletin. He was known to camp on the banks of the McCloud River near Mt. Shasta. A lover of hiking, he was known to have climbed
mountains in the Alps, Sierra and Rocky Mountains.

In 1903, Governor George Pardee appointed McLean to the State Board of Charities and Corrections, where he was eventually elected chair. He was known to go directly to the Governor and plead for clemency if he believed that a young man had served enough time in prison. From 1887-1897, he was a Director of the State Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind.

McLean was also a close friend of Susan B. Anthony and was a friend and supporter of the women’s suffrage movement. He became a strong advocate for the inclusion of women on the faculty at the University of California.

Sarah Knox McLean’s family, the Hawleys, were said to have played a major role in the American Revolutionary War. During the Spanish-American War she was the vice-president of the Red Cross and later became an organizer of the Women’s Board of Missions of the Pacific.

The cross on the gravesite is known as the Maclean’s Cross and is a replica of one from Iona, Argyleshire. It is the oldest Christian relic in Scotland, assigned to the period of St. Columba.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Emily Fish & Juliet Nichols - Lighthouse Keepers

[Photo by Michael Colbruno]

Emily Fish (1844-1931) Plot 33,
Juliet Nichols (1859-1947) Plot 33,

Emily Fish and Juliet Nichols are remembered as the most celebrated “mother-daughter” lighthouse keepers in the United States. Actually, Juliet was the daughter of Emily’s late sister. When Emily Maitland was just seventeen, she and her widowed brother-in-law, Dr. Melancthon Fish, were married in China where he served as U. S. vice consul in Shanghai for six years, and Emily raised Juliet.

After their marriage, Dr. and Mrs. Fish and Juliet returned to the U.S. where he served for the Union in the Civil War, and Emily and Juliet accompanied him during General Sherman’s campaign through Georgia.

Juliet married Henry Nichols who became a naval officer and inspector in the Lighthouse Service’s 12th District. When Melancthon Fish died in 1893, Henry Nichols suggested to Emily the idea of her becoming the lighthouse keeper at Pt. Pinos on the Monterey Peninsula – a position that was about to become available. Emily won the appointment and in 1893 moved into the lighthouse along with a Chinese manservant named Que who had come from China with the family. From her home in Oakland she brought fine antique furniture, paintings, china, and silver. Determined to have a garden, with Que’s help she brought topsoil to the sandy grounds and planted grass, trees and hedges. Her 92-acre “estate” featured Holstein cows, thoroughbred horses, chickens and French poodles. Over the years she listed in her log more than thirty male workers, most of whom she noted she fired for incompetence. Emily Fish was an active member of Monterey society, entertaining widely, chairing local committees and helping to organize the Monterey-Pacific Grove American Red Cross.

After Henry Nichols died in the Spanish-American War in 1899 leaving Juliet without support, it was arranged for her to be the keeper of the light at Angel Island, a post she filled ably from 1903 to 1914. In the summer of 1906 Juliet gained fame when the automatic bell failed in heavy fog and she manually rang the bell twice every fifteen seconds for a period of 20 hours, 35 minutes. Earlier that year both women were at their posts when the April 18 earthquake struck; Emily’s lighthouse suffered some rather severe damage, while Juliet’s experience included watching the destruction by temblor and flame of San Francisco.

Both women retired in 1914. Emily spent the rest of her life in Pacific Grove, Juliet in Oakland.

[Some of this information came from the article “Women of the Light” by Jeremy D’Entremont published in The Lighthouse Digest, July 2004 - compiled by docent Barbara Smith]

Edson Adams - Wealthy Oakland Co-Founder; Hannah Jayne Adams - Oakland's First Teacher

[Photo by Michael Colbruno; picture of Hannah Jayne Adams from the Oakland Tribune]

Plot 46, Lot 94

Edson Adams (1824 - 1888) was born in Fairfield County, Connecticut and sailed for San Francisco in January, 1849. He arrived in July and headed straight for the mines. He spent several months in the gold fields and returned to San Francisco in March of 1850.

Adams was soon to become one of the richest men in the Bay Area. His success was in no small measure the immediate result of his affiliation with two ex-miners and attorneys, Horace Carpentier and Andrew Moon. The three me squatted, plotted, and incorporated the town of Oakland on land owned by the Peralta family, part of a Spanish land grant.

After an official dispute over the land, a compromise was reached, primarily engineered by Carpentier, by which the three obtained a lease from Peralta. Problems arose when Adams, Moon and Carpentier began selling portions of the “leased” land, and by late 1851 a surveyor had laid out the beginnings of the town of Oakland. Eventually, the courts ruled in favor of the Peraltas, but by then, it was too late, as the land had long before been sold and developed.

Adams first settled in a shack at the foot of Broadway (Main Street, then). The area he and his partners leased from Peralta ran from the bay to 14th Street and from Market Street to Lake Merritt. Oakland was incorporated as a town in 1852, and as a city in 1854. After a modest start, the new city became a popular residential community, particularly after Adams encouraged the development of ferry service to San Francisco. This was difficult because of the need to modify the natural sand bar at the estuary’s entrance, but eventually the establishment of ferry service allowed the burgeoning town to grow. In addition to pushing for ferries, Adams was a force in the setting aside of land for parks.

Edson Adams married Hannah Jayne, Oakland’s first school teacher, who had arrived in Oakland via mule across the Isthmus of Panama. Her schoolhouse was at the corner of Fifth & Clay and cost $1,000 to construct.

The Edson home, “The Place,” was located at Adams Point near the foot of Vernon Street. Their property at “Adams Point” totaled some 400 acres which they gradually sold off.

When Adams died in 1888, Adams Point was still largely undeveloped, although later many mansions dotted the area. It was after the 1906 earthquake that Adams’ descendants were moved to dispose of most of the family’s holdings in the area in response to the rapidly rising prices commanded by the demand of many San Francisco families relocating to the East Bay.

[Excerpted from materials by Mountain View docent Barbara Smith and Berkeley historian Alan Cohen]