I spent a lot of time trying to find my grandfather's brother Philip, who family lore said died in San Francisco. I eventually found him in San Diego, but if you live in Tourmakeady, one "San" city in California must seem mostly the same.
The ability to search the California death records is what lead me to him. And once I head the death certificate, I found how and where he had died. Of course, the vital data on the death certificate was off, but in a way that simply confirmed his existence. His mom was Penelope Morrin, yet the certificate showed Maran Penlop. Reverse that, and see how it matches up. Tipparary was shown as place of birth, and my Aunt's have explained how they often had Tourmakeady misinterpreted as Tipparary. The date of birth was right. The lung problem was right. I'm satisfied.
So I look into the Alpine Sanatorium where he died. Took a bit of doing, but I found out that it did exist, but only the San Diego historical society was able to document that. Seems there has been some sort of TB sanatorium in the area of Alpine since 1880 or so, but which disappeared about 1950. While Philip was there, it was suppossed to be a real first class place.
I have no idea why Philip was in California. His death cert says he was in the merchant marine, but it also said he was born in Boston. And how he got to San Diego isn't clear. But when he died, he was buried a week later in the Masonic Cemetery in San Diego. (This is a fair distance from Alpine.) This cemetery later was merged with other cemeteries by the City of San Diego into the Mount Hope Cemetery.
I looked for a kind soul to do me a "Random Act of Genealogical Kindness" and found Dianne, who helped me out a whole lot. She sent me the following:
"I went out to Mt Hope several days ago - my husband went to help me. The lady on the phone that told you it might be hard to find was surely correct!!! We found the section right off the bat but locating the plot was something else. My husband and I walked the whole area and found no sign so we had a groundskeeper help us and he looked for at least 1/2 hour also. So he sent us to the supervisor of the grounds crew.
He was great. It took him 5 minutes to find it. There is NO headstone. No wonder we couldn't find it. The cemetery records back then did not include whether there was a headstone or not (presently their records do show who does not have a headstone.) But with walking off the spot, he told us exactly where the burial was. He even poked in the ground to make sure the stone had not been covered up at some point.
I asked him if it was a county burial since there was no stone and he stated that since their burial card didn't mention that, it would be unlikely that this was a county burial. Anyway there is no record why a stone was not erected but he said that is very common. Usually if someone doesn't have family in this area who would visit it, nobody would bother with a headstone, or if money was short, they couldn't afford one. I did take photos of the area and placed a pink flag that I keep in my car at the location of his burial. I also have a map of the area and a copy of the burial card the cemetery keeps. I will mail those along to you."
Isn't that a wonderful thing to do for a stranger?
Anyway, I now have photo's of the spot where Philip is buried, I have a map and the family knows where he is now. Not bad, eh?
Photos - They may be take a while on a slow connection!
Philip served in WW1 with the British forces, but my Aunt Anne checked with
the War Office after WW2 and was told that the records had been destroyed in
WW2 bombings. So we can't prove his service in WW1. I'd like to have his grave
marked, so if anyone knows if British forces with no documentation can get a
headstone, let me know.