Google Uncovers Bay Area History

Century-old grave marker from Livermore finds its way to SoCal

What would you do if you found a tombstone in your back yard?

An El Monte man was faced with that question recently after he bought a home and started clearing out the yard. He snapped a picture of the white rock grave marker and sent it to county officials.

The picture made its way to Jorge Morales, a field deputy for the county supervisor. Morales did some homework, starting by Googling the name on the tombstone: William Mendenhall.

It turns out, the marker belonged to the father of founder of the city of Livermore. How it made its way to  Southern California, almost 140 years later and 350 miles away, is a mystery.

Here's a bit of the email Morales sent to staff to share the news of the interesting find:

Mr. Mendenhall was the first person buried at Oak Knoll Cemetery and also the father of the founder of the City of Livermore (near San Francisco).  However after the 1906 SF earthquake the cemetery was left in ruins. So, somehow, this tombstone made it all the way to El Monte, hidden behind a shed. 

I contacted the City of Livermore and the Livermore Heritage Guild and they confirmed that indeed the tombstone was that of Mr. William Mendenhall who died January 12, 1873, father of their City's founder.  The guild committed to paying for all the fees associated with the transportation and legal matters associated with the transfer. They are excited to have this back.  The property owner is relieved that there's no body underneath it and that they will have a nice tax deduction.

It's the latest example of how the tech age is bringing history to our fingertips.

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