In April we spent a week of at-home vacation. Living in the SF Bay Area, there is ample opportunity to explore a variety of local regions ranging from hilly wine country to temperate coast – all within easy driving distance, so an at-home holiday is not necessarily unadventurous. Our first day trip was to Yountville, just north of Napa in the heart of wine country.
We kicked off the visit with lunch at Hurley’s, a lovely restaurant offering a range of fresh local plates and appropriately aged wines. Yum!
Adequately fortified, we then took a leisurely walk and window-shopped. A local kitchen store was my favorite shop – and the groovy chandelier pictured below, made from vintage door plates, my favorite item.
As we intended to explore rather than shop, we decided to undertake a tour of the local cemetery where we felt assured we would discover some local history. Sure enough, we were not disappointed; beyond the impressive Yount family plot lay many random, and a few sobering, stories.
By far the most poignant of these were the 19th century stones for young women and children, evidence of the perils in childbirth and rampant childhood diseases. This reminded me of a friend’s observations while studying medicine, that it was only in relatively recent history that doctors disinfected their hands between patient visits – after which, childhood mortality rates and fatalities associated with childhood dropped dramatically.
We also found a stone marking the grave of a 16-year-old girl, inscribed:
Our Adopted and Redeemed
That seems a chilling kind of love, to presume the poor child would have burned in hell simply because her Native American religious practices were unfamiliar to WASPs of the West.
Finally, several stones of similar design – logs and tree trunks – were scattered throughout the cemetery. Upon closer examination, while each was for various families they shared a common marking: Woodmen of the World. Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that this fraternal organization still exists, and is based in Omaha, Nebraska. From what I gathered, it’s a patriotic organization which provides financial service assistance to its members; up through the 1920’s, one such benefit was burial including an iconic headstone. That for a member of a family called Clarke is pictured below.