Blacks were never denied burial here, you’d think they would be segregated out. The Tombstone is new, although Biddy was a pillar of the community, she didn’t have much of a gravestone until the 1980s. It is wonderful to see that a granddaughter, who lived to 100 is buried with her. I need to ask my son in law to do some Ancestry.com research for me, I’m pretty sure a lot of her family is still around. For more info on her, come on my historic downtown tour! Biddy was an incredible human being.
I posted some pictures on Instagram and a friend tells me that her husbands’ mother and uncle are buried here! If only I had known!
This was always private, but when they opened the city asked for nine acres as a Potters Field, this is where the unknown dead are buried. By 1917, they were running out of room, so in 1924, the city sold that section back to the Cemetery, except for one corner where they built the city crematorium. Sorry, no pictures, I understand the need for a crematorium, as a Jew, it’s not something I share pictures of. These days, the old Potters Field is being reused as regular plots. Once a year there is a ceremony where the ashes of around 1,500 people are buried, with just the year. These are all the unknown and unlclaimed dead of the city.
The Chinese were not allowed to be buried here, or in any other cemetery. They came as single men to work the railroads and stayed, the thought was that without women, they would leave. The discrimination in very interesting, especially since until Roosevelt in WWII, The Japanese weren’t treated the same way – oh they suffered from discrimiation, but not like the Chinese. So for $10 a head, the Chinese were allowed to be buried in the Potters Field, at some point they wised up and simply created their own cemetary. Sad story, turns out, that most were buried in a mass grave that was only uncovered when the Gold line was built in the 90s. So There is a memorial garden from 1880 dedicated to the Chinese and this new memeorial and graves for the bodies that were uncovered.
History isn’t always pretty, there are a lot of terrible deeds done to all kinds of people. Remembering and learning is what matters. Harvard is one place these days that needs to learn the lesson that discrimination against Chinese or other Asians is not acceptable.One of the groups that started using the old Potters Field as burial grounds, were The Pacific Coast Showmen’s Association. This is an ongoing organization that offers burial as well as support for people in the ‘Circus’ industry. Back in the day, circus workers or performers often didn’t have a permanent home, they traveled. So they created this organization that helped with burials. What is interesting is men are on one side of the road and women on the other. I have no idea why.A current section, where burials are happening today. Aside from the fake flowers that don’t die, pinwheels are becoming a thing on graves. Also, looks like some of the families come and water their loved one’s graves.
One of the issues here is that no one is paying for all those old graves. There is always a possibility to pay an endowment, but when someone has been dead over 100 years, I don’t think the descendants feel much of a connection.There is a whole history just in this tombstone. The daughter died first, then the mother, then the father. I wonder if Geraldine is Laptha’s daughter. I hope she is still alive today, if not, maybe she chose to be buried with her husband, not in the family grave. Also notice, people have been putting photographs on tombstones for a long time. Note that Gerladine’s is in color.I only took the close up of this beautiful African American woman with her lovely feather fan. The photos are of the person at their best, so although she looks young here, she may not have been.
And now, I need to go visit the Workman homestead, as well as the Jewish cemetery in Boyle Heights.Leah