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May 9, 2006 > Centerville Pioneer Cemetery

Centerville Pioneer Cemetery

Centerville Pioneer Cemetery is a unique book, a detailed study of the people buried in the Centerville Pioneer Cemetery formerly known as the Presbyterian Cemetery.  It was written by Romaine Veronda, Alice Reiley, Kathryn Lindsey and Shirley Bronte, members of the Ohlone Chapter of Fremont, State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

When these ladies were working to help clean up the cemetery, they realized that a great deal of history was being lost.  They knew that the people buried there had contributed to the development of the area and each had a story to tell.  A survey drew them into researching biographical details of each person and the causes of death.  During their seven years of research, they went to many libraries, followed all leads and "dug into everything they could learn about who these people were."  They searched to find out from where they came, why they settled here and ways they influenced the growth of the Tri-City area.

Research revealed that these early pioneers came from around the world daring the violent seas and hazards of the Isthmus of Panama.  Some came across the Great Plains, deserts and mountains, but all were seeking a better way of life or hoping for quick riches in the gold fields.  They were a varied group of doctors, dentists, educators, sea captains and farmers.  All made an impact on California and our area.

The book begins with an introduction that states the objectives of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution: Historic Preservation, Promotion of Education and Patriotic Endeavor.  The book is presented in view of these objectives.

There is a brief history of the Centerville Presbyterian Church that ends with the fire that destroyed the little white church.  This is followed by three pictures of the famous church.

The next section gives the biographies of people buried here with detailed information from quotes in diaries, photographs of the people or their memorial markers, birth and death dates from a variety of sources.  This information will be very valuable to people doing genealogical research.

Another section of the book, "The Stones," is about the headstones in the cemetery.  They have been carefully photographed and displayed with the plot number and person's name.

The next section, "Plot Survey," was gathered by walking through the cemetery, surveying each individual plot, and writing down the information and condition of each headstone.  This information will not always agree with that in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery Book because some markers were lost, headstones were destroyed, and bodies were moved.  In most cases the ashes of the Chinese were returned to China.  The Survey represents the cemetery as it is today.

The last section is titled "Causes of Death" and lists each person with statistical information about each death, when known.  The summary given here includes a brief explanation of some of the less known ailments that were given as "cause of death."  The most common cause of death was consumption, which we know as pulmonary tuberculosis, or just tuberculosis.  "Medications such as arsenic, creosote, starch enemas, mercury and calcium phosphate were administered--to no effect."  People today would say, "If the disease didn't kill them, the treatment would."

The book concludes with a comprehensive bibliography and complete index.  Paperback books are still available for $22.00 from Alice Reiley.  She will meet you at the Centerville Train Depot or mail a copy if you also send $3.00 to cover the cost of postage.  Her phone number is 510-792-9990.  Checks should be made out to Ohlone Chapter DAR.  It's a great book.  You won't want to miss it.

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