Found in Mountain View

Jan 20, 2012

“William Taylor

Bishop of Africa

"The People Who Sat In Darkness Saw Great Light”

This also marks the grave of Isabella Taylor, with the epitaph, “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed.”

There is an additional plaque on the ground next to the monument on which the epitaphs are affixed. It states, “Bishop William Taylor was one of the first Methodist missionaries to reach California, where he ministered to the miners, Native Americans and sailors. He later traveled the globe supporting himself by writing books and sharing Christ wherever he went. His life of faith was so closely aligned with the mission of Fort Wayne College in Indiana that in 1890, the trustees of the school, agreed to rename the institution Taylor University. To this day, the institution, with campuses in Upland and Fort Wayne, Indiana, continues to prepare men and women to follow in the footsteps of its namesake, ministering the love of Christ to a world in need. This plaque was given in 2000, compliments of the class of 1950.”

William Taylor lived from 1821 from 1902. He was born in Virginia, the descendent of immigrants who fought in the Revolutionary War and were forward-thinking enough to free their slaves after the war. At the age of 10, he had a spiritual moment in front of the wood stove, decided to devote his life to Christianity, and eventually became a Methodist Deacon. He was a California pioneer, traveling to San Francisco in 1849. He preached to the 49ers in the tent city of San Francisco, often by standing up on a whiskey barrel and using his sonorous voice to its best advantage. He also frequented saloons and brothels, ostensibly to preach the Word and not to partake in their services. He set up San Francisco’s first Methodist Church, presumably in something other than a tent. 

Apparently, Taylor was quite a fit physical specimen, all of six feet tall and 207 pounds, and capable, when he was nearly 60 years old, of lifting 760 pounds in one go (using what matter of lift, and what manner of weight, I do not know). He was, at one point in his younger years, in a bit of a hurry; there being no ferries available at the time, he swam across the San Francisco Bay to Alameda and ostensibly arrived on time. 

He took advantage of his robustness by traveling the world as a missionary for 40 years, starting in 1856 in the western parts of the U.S. and Canada. From there he went to England, Ireland, “Asia Minor” (Turkey, Georgia, Armenia), Syria, and Palestine. He spent much of his time in South Africa, and was elected as Missionary Bishop of Africa in 1884 (a Missionary Bishop is one who is assigned to work in an area that is not already organized under a bishop of the church; he has approximately equal footing in the church as a regular bishop, but is still a separate breed of clergyman). He later preached in Barbados, British Guinea (now incorporated into Papua New Guinea, though his obituary claims this was in South America), Australia, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Not to rest on his laurels, he then traveled to India as a missionary, and then made a quick, 1500 mile jaunt up the Amazon. He preached in Peru and Chile and, after becoming Bishop of Africa, did work in central and western Africa until he retired back to California at the age of 77.

Missionary work, especially in the 1800s, has been historically fraught with ethnocentrism and colonialism. Bishop Taylor may have been guilty of some of this (he consorted with King Leopold of Belgium, for example, and consulted with him regarding the colonialization of Congo; he was also, as a man of his time, guilty of referring to “natives” and “Kaffirs” and the “Dark Continent;” not to mention his zeal in carrying out the basic goals of Christian evangelism, which seeks to replace cultural values with “superior” Christian ones), but his heart seems to truly have been in the right place. He built many houses and dug many wells, started a university or two, and wrote several books, all while traveling essentially self-supported. 

12 notes Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery cemetery grave epitaph history tombstone photo photography project reblog

Jan 20, 2012

The cross atop Priest Alexander Allen’s grave. The symbol on the cross is a Chi Rho, which has several different forms but is always essentially formed by the Greek letters Chi (which looks like an X) and Rho (which looks like a P). Chi and Rho are the first letters in the Greek name for Christ, XPICTOC, and thus this symbol is a way of reinforcing the cross shown here. The N woven into the Chi Rho stands for the Greek word, “Nike,” which means “victory” and usually refers to the Greek Goddess of that name; it is interesting that the referral to the Greek pantheistic system using this symbology is not an uncommon practice in Catholicism. 

1 note Tags Catholic Mountain View Mountain View Cemetery Oakland art cross history photo photography symbol cemetery grave tombstone reblog

Jan 9, 2012

A newly finished mausoleum, awaiting the dead.

16 notes Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery cemetery mausoleum history photo photography reblog

Jan 9, 2012

Not sleep Eternal but Living Fellowship.

On the gravestone of Priest Alexander Allen, 1858-1932. The back of the gravestone also lists the name of Helen Windsor Allen, 1887-1952. 

3 notes Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery cemetery epitaph history photo photography grave gravestone reblog

Jan 9, 2012

And they were all aligned. 

Looking closely, one can see Sutro Tower across the Bay in San Francisco - it’s just to the right of the large palm. 

11 notes Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery cemetery grave gravestone sunset photo photography San Francisco reblog

Jan 9, 2012

Life is probation and the earth no goal but starting point of man.

On the tiny pool monument of the Powells - Richard Saffold, Isabel, Richard Cheadle, Elizabeth, and Jane. Richard Cheadle Powell was a mechanical engineer. I have never seen this little pool full of clean water, and it appears to be mostly neglected. 

1 note Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery cemetery grave gravestone epitaph history photo photograph photography reblog

Jan 9, 2012

One of the fountains of the Cogswell tomb gets its moment in the sunset.

The fountains surrounding the large Cogswell monument (Henry Daniel Cogswell, 1820-1900) are replicas of the ones he designed and erected in DC, New York City, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. He built several others, mostly on the east coast, that were torn down by residents in fits of pique. He may have anticipated these tantrums, as he built his water fountains as alternative sources of drink to the alcohol he found disdainful. Oh, and the fountains were rather unspeakably ugly, prompting their demise in rather spectacular ways, including a lake drowning, a burying under cement, and an actual lynching of a fountain statue (that probably was a representation of Cogswell himself) that may or may not have been perpetuated by University of California, Berkeley professor, Gelett Burgess. Burgess subsequently resigned from the UC, but went on to become a beloved children’s book author and illustrator, an author of verse, prose, short stories, and novels, an art critic (he authored an article that introduced the cubist art movement to America), and the coiner of the term “blurb.” Cogswell, on the other hand, remained a teetotaling dentist. 

6 notes Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery cemetery grave tomb monument history photo photography reblog

Jan 9, 2012

Around Christmas, the charismatic statues are never safe. The Bradbury angel may have lost her nose, but she has gained a jaunty hat.

2 notes Tags Christmas Mountain View Cemetery Oakland cemetery grave graveyard history statue photography photo reblog

Jan 6, 2012

Many of the eucalyptus trees being cut down in this section did not go without a fight. 

While there are about 700 species of eucalyptus trees in the world, most of them are native to Australia and only one main species was introduced to California (Eucalyptus globulus, or the Tasmanian Blue Gum). They were brought to California by Australians during the gold rush; their presence in Mountain View is thus actually particularly appropriate given the fact that many of the graves they shade belong to immigrants and gold rush pioneers of the same vintage. 

Eucalyptus trees have been introduced in many areas of the world over the past 100-150 years, mainly as a source of timber and paper pulp as the trees are very fast growing. Their fast-growing nature has turned them into dangerous invasive species in several countries, including the U.S., South Africa, and Spain. California pioneers had hoped that these trees would provide a source of timber for building pioneer towns and for making railroad ties. Unfortunately, the wood turned out to be all but useless for these pursuits, given its propensity to warp greatly when dried and to turn into wooden iron that wouldn’t accept nails. Thus, the trees ended up providing mostly shade, windbreaks, and the pleasant scent from their oil.

Alas, this same oil is highly combustible; add this firestarter to a bunch of fast-growing trees that produce an enormous amount of dry litter that cannot be broken down by local fungi and you have yourself a perfect recipe for nasty firestorms. The 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm can be largely blamed (at least in scope and severity) on the presence of eucalyptus trees that provided upwards of 70% of the vegetative fuel for the fire. These trees also actively prevent the growth and support of endemic flora and fauna and suck up an enormous amount of water. Thus, while it’s a bit visually sad to lose this corridor of trees in Mountain View, the end result will be a bit happier and safer for the living. 

9 notes Tags Mountain View Cemetery cemetery tree eucalyptus Oakland graveyard grave ecology history photo photography reblog

Jan 6, 2012

Recently, the cemetery has been cutting down all of the eucalyptus trees along the western fence. Several took the fence with them - this is a view into neighboring St. Mary’s Cemetery. St. Mary’s was established in 1863 and is actually older than Mountain View. It’s actually the very first cemetery opened in Oakland, and still actively serves several local Catholic parishes. 

Tags cemetery Oakland Mountain View Cemetery photo photography history St. Mary's Cemetery fence history reblog

Jan 6, 2012

A slightly more modern, and more well-kept-up area of the cemetery, along one of the loveliest tree-lined roads.

1 note Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery cemetery graveyard grave history photo photography reblog

Jan 6, 2012

The enormous palms lend this area a bit of dignity and an air of intrigue. 

2 notes Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery Cemetery graveyard grave history photo photography reblog

Jan 6, 2012

Most of the graves in this non-endowed section of the cemetery are from the mid-to-late-1800s, and are completely untended. 

1 note Tags Oakland Cemetery graveyard Mountain View Cemetery photo photography history reblog

Jan 6, 2012

It’s lovely that, at the end of the day, some of the most neglected graves get the most beautiful light. 

1 note Tags Oakland Mountain View Cemetery Cemetery grave graveyard history photography photo reblog

Dec 9, 2011

A “white bronze” (aka zinc) panel on the marker of John Eliot Benton (died February 18, 1888 at age 68) and Mary Park Benton (died in 1910).

Zinc markers were rather briefly (1874-1914) produced by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport Connecticut and its subsidiaries. They sold the monuments by using traveling salesmen and catalogs. The company’s Connecticut factory was taken over by the government during World War I to manufacture munitions, and never really regained its heyday; while the company only finally dissolved in 1939, it never manufactured another zinc monument after 1914. 

To make one of these monuments, an artist first made a wax model, then used this to make plaster casts to form the zinc pieces which were then fused together using more hot zinc. The monuments could be edited fairly easily, by removing the panels screwed to each side and putting new ones on. These monuments are all hollow in the middle and therefore lighter than stone; zinc, however, does bend over time, so many of these monuments show evidence of “creep,” wherein the sides of obelisks bow out and monument bases bend from bearing the weight of the upper portions of metal for many years. The zinc monuments in other parts of the country have tended to stay bluish-white (hence the moniker “white bronze,” which also sounds more fancy-pants than the rather stubby “zinc”), due to a natural coating of zinc carbonate. This particular monument, and the other zinc ones in Mountain View, have turned reddish and are starting to disintegrate in parts, probably due to acid rain.  

The symbols on this marker are for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization (which also includes women, the first American fraternity to do so, way back in 1851). The organization started in 18th century England as a kind of insurance and aid organization, and was so named because it was “odd” for people to organize themselves and help others without expecting something in return. It is also known as the “Three Link Fraternity” because of the three chain links used as a common symbol; usually, in the middle of the links are the letters, “F L T” standing for “Friendship, Love, and Truth.” The first U.S. branch of the organization was formed in 1819 in Baltimore during a yellow fever outbreak, and was charged to “visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead, and educate the orphans.” Its Odd Fellows and Rebekahs (the female members, one presumes) include youth as young as eight (though these are not, presumably, the orphans needing educating).

reblog

Dec 9, 2011

Hidden in the trees. The large grave merely states, on the opposite side, “SWAYNE.”

reblog

Dec 9, 2011

An amazing name.

reblog

Dec 9, 2011

Apparently, lawnmower casualties are not uncommon for some of the set-in-ground stones.

reblog

Dec 9, 2011

Rest Dear Joe, may the lawnmowers be kinder to you in the future. 

reblog

Dec 5, 2011

The Cogswell monument is reflected in a broken window on a door to the Kreyenhagen mausoleum. The window in the right-sided door is boarded up completely. 

reblog