Some of my favorite cemeteries (other than where my own people are buried, of course) are the eerie, yet somehow romantic, above-ground crypts in New Orleans, the old, urban graveyards that now house many of our country's founders and patriots in Boston and the small, hidden-away burial grounds along narrow paths in the English and Welsh countryside.
My favorite local cemetery, however, is the 226-acre Mountain View Cemetery nestled in lower hills of Oakland, California. It's just up the hill from me, and I can walk to it from my apartment. It is truly one of the most splendid cemeteries I've ever visited, and it has its own unique history that is just as fascinating as the histories of some of its illustrious inhabitants.
Mountain View Cemetery was established in 1863 and designed by famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Manhattan's Central Park, both UC Berkeley and Stanford Universities and the Midway Plaisance at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, among many other notable parks and projects around the United States.
|From the top of Mountain View Cemetery on a rainy day, |
looking out toward the San Francisco skyline
The cemetery is a feast for the eyes when it comes to grandiose crypts and headstones that pay tribute to some of California's important historical figures, including Domingo Ghirardelli (of the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company), J.A. Folger (founder of Folgers Coffee), noted California architect Julia Morgan and several former California governors, senators and other notable politicians.
However, Mountain View is also the burial place of nearly 200,000 regular souls who now rest among the beautiful scenery and dozens of winding pathways that attract walkers, bicyclists and picnickers along with those who come to pay tribute to their loved ones. I love meandering along the paths that curve along the gentle hills of this park-like cemetery. According to the cemetery website, "Mountain View is distinguished from other cemeteries by its architect's vision of man and nature and their relationship to each other." And, it's true. It's one of those rare places where you know that you're in the middle of an urban geography, however you're free to shrug off the stress and confines of the city and bask in the nature -- and, on a sunny day, the incredible views -- that Mountain View offers.
|The GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War burial plot at Mountain View Cemetery|
|My cousin, John Milton Eddy, and family|
|Death notice in the Sacramento Daily Union|
for Jane Caroline "Carrie" Eddy
I'm still learning more about John Milton Eddy and his family who were early pioneers in California. I want to know what drew him to California? How did he die? What kind of man was this distant cousin of mine? Are there any portraits of them??? As I discover more tidbits about John and his family, I'll be sure to report them here. Meanwhile, I now have a reason, other than the brisk exercise and stunning views, to walk around Mountain View Cemetery: I have family to visit!