14 July 2010

California Quotes: The Graves of the Forty-Niners


I have always had a strange love for visiting the graves of the dead forty-niners. I love to read their names and learn their history. Near where I reside are the resting-places of three that have long attracted my attention, perhaps from the seeming mystery that enshrouded them. One is that of young man with whom I was acquainted before coming to California. He sleeps on a beautiful ridge on the northern bank of Dry Creek-a rough board marks his lonely bed, and the following words are marked thereon:

Sacred to the Memory
Julius Bulkley.
December 27th,

This was a young man from Illinois. The hardships he endured crossing the plains, together with the privations he met with here, was too much for his delicate frame to bear. He was taken with a lingering fever, and never recovered. His relatives, if he have any still living, will be glad to learn that kind friends were near to administer to his wants until called upon to perform the last sad office--the burial of the dead.

Near the grave of this young man was that of another forty-niner. No mark or inscription tells his name--no block or stone is at his head. Nought but the narrow ridge of earth informs us that it is the resting place of one who in life shared the dangers and hardships of a pioneer. The oldest inhabitants can tell nothing of its name or history. All they know is that he was buried there in '49. The rest must remain a mystery, perhaps, forever...

The third grave is beneath an old oak tree, upon whose trunk is carved, with much care, the following:

Here Lies
Nicholas Downing,
Of Missouri.
Oct. 29th, 1849."

From: Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine, Vol. 3. San Francisco: Hutchings & Rosenfield, 1859. Page 133

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