Hello to everyone,
St. Mary’s Cemetery had its first interment in December of 1863. The cemetery was located miles outside the Oakland city limits in the foothills overlooking the bay. As the city of Oakland expanded in the 1870’s it became clear that the cemetery along the shores of Lake Merritt (Snow Park) would soon be engulfed by the growing city. In 1874, the early Oakland interments were moved to St. Mary’s or Mountain View Cemetery for non-Catholics.
As the population increased from immigration and from live births, so too did deaths increase. Migrations of Catholic’s came from six main countries to the United States; Ireland, Azores Islands (Portugal), France, Italy, Canada and Germany. Many Catholics came from the eastern and the southern United States as well.
There were many Catholics in Alta California before the Bear Flag revolt of 1848 who bear the names of many adobes, streets, cities, areas, regions, parks; Alvarado, Arguello, Castro, Briones, Estudillo, Galindo, Higuera, Moraga, Pacheco and Peralta.
In 1863, to reach St. Mary’s from downtown Oakland, a person went north out of town on the San Pablo Road and switched back and forth until arriving. Later Broadway was extended toward the foothills and soon there was a horse drawn street car. In 1893 the street car line was electrified. It had a special car to take the deceased and the mourners together to the cemeteries and Blair Park.
At first people were interred close to the entrance. Section 1 and 2 contain the oldest graves and many of the people who were at Lake Merritt. Sections were added later for the poor, stillborn, soldiers, wealthy and clergy and religious orders. Today the population is more than 80,000 in the necropolis.
To keep track of interments— when and where; and payments, St. Mary has several main documents that are essential in record keeping— Registers, Lists of Interments and Maps. There are other records, but these are the top three needed for 99% of research up through the 1920’s or 30’s.
Registers are numbered one through ten. They contain the largest possible amount of information for the genealogist— Name, Born In, Marital Status, Age, Date of Interment, Interred in, Name and address of purchaser, along with other information.
List of Interments, also known as, the Chronological List of Interments (CLI) contains a shorter version of the register information with this exception: Disease [Cause of Death], Priest or Parish and Undertaker.
Maps contain the location, the owners name and possibly other information as the page #, register #, preneed or date of purchase.
All the documents used a four co-ordinate system to locate a grave within the ground or above ground in a mausoleum. The original nomenclature used was Dormitory, Station, Area and Grave as location terms. Today Section, Row, Plot and Grave classifications have been used for at least 80 years. Section is the largest area; and there are more than 45 sections, some very small when compared to Section 1 or 2.
In the older sections a row is a double set of graves that are in a row. Graves are unified in a plot of eight, sometimes more, graves that are numbered from one to four, then five to eight when counting right to left. Rows were separated from each other by a concrete walkway, and some sections were separated by roads and/or walkways. All walkways are now filled.
In this example (Section 1) Grave 1, in Row 3, in Plot 7 would have a short hand notation as 1-3-7-1 — Section 1, Row 3, Plot 7, Grave 1. A grave in the walkway would be 1-W3-7-1. If the row had no plots the shorthand would then be 1-3-=-1. A =, not -, is used to note a lack of a co-ordinate.
Unfortunately not all Sections have co-ordinates. Sections for Poor, Stillborn and Unconsecrated are without co-ordinates and maps.
All the Registers, CLI, maps and other documents use Page number—Register number system. 141-7 would be Page 141, Register 7. In addition to this abbreviation I use a shorthand for Plots and Graves if the purchasers have graves in two or more plots; such as, Plot 4, Graves 3, 4, 5, 6; Plot 5, Graves 1, 2, 7, 8. I shorten it to P 4, G's 3, 4, 5, 6; P 5, G's 1, 2, 7, 8.
California Tombstone Project (CTP); US GenWeb Order is the first large survey of St. Mary’s cemetery by a genealogical group. They transcribed all the Chronological List of Interments records through 1910. These 15,000+ records were posted on the internet in Word documents that were subsequently parsed and posted to Find A Grave. Much of the information is correct, however, a large portion, from 10% to 20% of the entries are in error. Most errors are in the locations and names, but all parts of the CTP are with errors. I recommend that the information be used only as beginning point and that the CTP information be investigated by review of the original records. The CTP entries are numbered up to 5,000. The last 10,000 are not numbered.
Please remember that the photographs and the articles, as per US law, are still mine and yes, I'll give them to you to use as you wish after you make a request. But, if you post new people in Find A Grave, please let me post the new photographs for them. Thanks.
If you post else where please make note that the pictures or articles came from me. They have been corrected and made modern.
Thank you for all your help.
Search memorial contributions by alfred janske