What Lies Beneath: California Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards

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If it doesn’t sound irreverent, let’s imagine a shopping mall on a Saturday morning and take a look around. Diversity? Of course, by any categorization. Similarly, though far more emphatically, give in to temptation and pick up Gail L. Jenner’s compelling new book, California: Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards. Her descriptions of the burial locations offer a distinctive way to read the history of California’s pioneer years in the burgeoning cities, the rural outback, and all between.

Colorfully and defiantly, the long-ago families come back to life as interpreted by their grave markers. The inscribed stones cause us to imagine lives before computers, antibiotics, and reliable contraception in a land that was new and promising. Scores of black and white images of the markers foster our imagination, a memory of six babies dying in a single family, a great-great-grandmother who reached a hundred years of age, a fallen woman who fell too soon, a Native American, an Asian immigrant, an adventurer, a courageous housewife, and many more. The thumbnail biographies are transformative, leaving us strangely exhilarated rather than sad.

Jenner has divided the book into geographical regions in an attempt to illustrate the predominant populations of particular regions, but diversity across the state defies pigeon-holing.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 360 pages
Publisher TwoDot
Publish Date 15-Sep-2021
ISBN 9781493048953
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue March 2022
Category History