San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Union Cemetery

California State Landmark #816 - Status granted March 26, 1963 

Cath Madden Trindle

Just down the street from my home in Redwood City lies one of the oldest cemeteries in San Mateo County.  Union Cemetery, located on Highway 84 (Woodside Road) has a unique history in that it is that the Union Cemetery Association which was formed in 1859 passed ownership of the cemetery to the State of California.  You can read more about the history of the cemetery on the Historic Union Cemetery website which is linked below.

I've been exploring the cemetery for years, bringing along an entourage at times.  My granddaughter Madi(son) spent many a day there helping take pictures and learning her letters.  Over the years Caroline Ybarra helped me catalog and photograph many of the tombstones in the cemetery.  Those pictures and a database of over 2200 burials have been available on California Genealogy and History Archives for the last two years.  This database includes information from a variety of sources that might not be duplicated in the links below, so once you've used the other resources check back here for possible links CA death records, newspaper articles, etc.

Find a Grave lists 995 burials with a few photographs, worth checking as you might find family connections that are not available elsewhere.

During the 1970s many stones were destroyed by vandals.  And by the 1990s the cemetery was in dire need of care.

In 1992 the Historic Union Cemetery Association was formed and many of the ruined stones were repaired.  President John Edmonds, with the help of a very able webmaster, has created a cemetery guide that includes not only a burial list, but also a marker list, photographs of existing tombstones and stories of the cemetery residents including pictures in some cases.  Play with the lists, it is possible to sort them on any column just by clicking on the title. The website is a wonderful resource for early families in San Mateo County.  Digital copies of the Union Cemetery Burial Register 1854-1917 and the 1937 DAR Tombstone Reading project are available for perusal or download.

For those that prefer paper to Internet, a book by John Edmond'a can be ordered from Amazon
After a lull of many years, vandals again smashed three stones in 2010.   One hopes that the vandals are suitable haunted by the occupants.

If you're ancestors are buried in Union Cemetery and you have a picture of a stone that no longer stands, send it to the HUCA for inclusion on the website.  You might also consider including a story about the person interred and/or a photograph.  If you have a complete family history you'd like to share, consider including it in the SMCGS First Families project, or at least submitting it for the "Other Families" section of our website.

Check out pictures from SMCGS' field trip to Union Cemetery on Pinterest.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

San Mateo County Cemeteries

Jean Bartlett will sign copies of her book, 125 Years of History, Ministry & Service, which tells stories of inhabitants of 

Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery

 at the cemetery in Colma on Wednesday, Oct 24.  For more see....

Pacifica Tribune writer pens local cemetery history book

You can buy copies of the book at the cemetery or by mail.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

San Mateo County History Highlights

San Mateo County History MuseumThe Journal of the San Mateo County Historical Association (v.xli n.1/Summer 2012) which is just out tells the story of the Nike missile areas at Milagra and Sweeney Ridges.  If you want to read up on this piece of the county's history, you'll find a copy in the SMCGS Library at Canada College. 

Check out past issues while you are there each issue explores one historical topic in depth.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

San Mateo County Places

Cath Madden Trindle

Pescadero is located on the Rancho Pescadero, a Mexican land grant given to Juan José Gonzalez in 1833. Among the early American settlers in the valley were Alexander Moore and Bartlett, Braddock and Robinson Weeks.  Moore built the first frame home in the area in the early 1850s. 
Another early family was the Steeles. They established a dairy farm in the Cloverdale Valley near Pescadero. The rich, fertile soil of the valley attracted other settlers, and by the 1860s Pescadero was a prosperous town surrounded by farms and lumber mills. 

Trout fishing and Pebble Beach drew visitors and by the 1890s Pescadero was a thriving seaside resort. Visitors could take the train to Redwood City or San Mateo and then then travel by mountain stage to Pescadero.  There they found Sarah Swanton's hotel

Another well known establishment is Duarte's Tavern first established in 1894 by Frank Duarte. The original building, along with the Swanton House was destroyed by fire in the 1920s, although the original bar remains.You can read the history of the tavern on their own website, or better yet visit for a cup of artichoke or green chile soup and a slice of pie and see the history on the walls. 

The demise of the Ocean Shore Railway and the fact that Highway 1 bypassed Pescadero eventually meant a shrinking population.  Today  Pescadero is smaller than it was.  It is a quaint little town with some cute little art shops that you should visit on your trip to Duartes and the nearby beaches.

Among the landmarks still standing are St. Anthony's Catholic Church  and the Pescadero Community Church  both were completed in 1867.  The community church with its classical revival style beat out the catholic church and today is the oldest surviving Protestant church on the Peninsula.  It was declared a state historical landmark in 1984.

For much more on the history of Pescadero read though  Pescadero Memories  by June Morrell.  She brings the days of old alive.

Check the Online Archive of California - Pescadero for records, maps and pictures of Pescadero that are sitting in repositories in California including the Steele Ranch Records.  The Library of Congress has some records for the area including LOC-Built in America - Steele Bros. Dairies  and LOC-Built in America - San Gregorio Street in Pescadero.  

Other helpful links include
Wikipedia-Rancho Pescadero
Wikipedia - Pescadero
Pescadero, California 
Coastside History
Pescadero State Beach 
Pescadero Creek Park

Watch for further information on Mt. Hope and St. Anthony's Cemetery, Pillar Point Lighthouse and on specific families that might be posted to the SMCGS First Families Blog.