Saturday, September 17, 2016

Grave Robbers In Golden Gate Cemetery 1908

Since I've written about how the city of San Francisco had banned cemeteries and essentially evicted all buried there. Those interred were supposedly dug up and moved to the city of Colma just south of San Francisco.

But have you ever wondered about what was going on when San Francisco was actually in the process of removing all of those buried there? Well, this will give you some insight into what was taking place.
The San Francisco Morning Call, December 16th, 1908:


Vandals Wreck Tombs and Expose Bodies in Old Burial Ground 

Supervisor Payot and Coroner Leland visited the site of the old Golden Gate cemetery yesterday to investigate the acts of vandalism committed about the exposed graves. 

Mrs. E. H. D'Donnell and Mrs. C. H. Rockwell, officers of the Richmond women's improvment club, had called Payot's attention to the desecration of many of the graves, particularly that of the tomb of Russian woman, Mary Gribbich, whose body, brought from Sacramento, had been interred in a handsome marble lined vault in 1892. 

The massive slab covering the tomb had been broken and pried away, revealing the costly garments and the rings worn by the dead woman in her last resting place.

Mrs. O'Donnell reported that curious crowds had been visiting the spot and unknown persons had cast rubbish upon the remains until the body was almost covered from view by the stuff.

Other exposed remains, she said had been similarly treated. Payot notified the police to use more vigilance in guarding the plot, and the coroner ordered the tomb of Mrs. Gribbich restored and resealed."

-- end article.

Editor's Note: 

I posted the above article unedited just as it appeared when first published just two years after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake took place. It was a small article in the San Francisco Call that probably didn't get very much attention.

The reason that it probably didn't get very much attention is that theft and vandalism was going on while the graves were being dug up to be removed to Colma and this sort of behavior was fairly common place. It was not out of the ordinary for grave robbers to loot the open graves of those being moved.

The grave robbers, the vandals, the ghouls, who saw nothing wrong with rifling through the remains of some long dead pioneer and steal the buttons off their clothing, a broach, a ring, their clothing, and what have you. It was a constant and didn't only take place on a few occasions.

Isn't it amazing that this sort of thing went on 1908? After all, from everything we are told, it was supposedly a time when people had more reverence for the dead. Of course if they did have reverence, one can't tell that by what was taking place in San Francisco at the time. 

Tom Correa

1 comment:

  1. Hi cousin Tom, it's me (Karen) and Judy, just stopping by and saying hi!


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