My rating: 5 of 5 stars
California’s oldest secular cemetery is the pioneer burial ground of Northern California’s largest city. The huge cemetery is a lively place on a weekend, but has been heavily vandalized in the past. Buried here are George Donner, who was 10 when he survived the harrowing winter in the Sierras but went on to raise a family of his own. Also here is Mountain Charley, a mountain man who survived being mauled by a mama grizzly in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He lost an eye, but lived 30-some more years. More recently, George Merino, proclaimed king of the West Coast gypsies, was buried here in 1975.
This is the perfect cemetery guidebook. It has a map, short biographies of the permanent residents, photos of them, their graves, and often their property or other historical ephemera that illustrates their lives and contributions.
The only issue I have is that its organization is confusing. Rather than starting with the oldest graves in the pioneer section, that section comes last. I think the sections are arranged in order from closest to the gate on back to the fence, but it means you have to wait to get to the most interesting stories. That’s minor, though, considering how fascinating everything else is.
You can get your own copy of the book at Amazon.
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