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San Francisco's Constructive Citizens






Robert B. Woodward is best remembered as the presiding genius of Woodward's Gardens--paradise for children of the past generation.  There were monkeys and swings and boats, at Woodward's Gardens; and a merry-go-round and a mysterious tunnel.  There were deer parks and seal ponds; there were tigers and grizzly bears and panthers.  But Woodward's Gardens' two square blocks of joy vanished years ago, absorbed by the real estate men's mania for subdivision.  A monument stands in the family plot at Laurel Hill Cemetery, inscribed:



April 26, 1824--Aug. 22, 1879

MARY, His Wife 1824--1883



In 1850, San Francisco's first City Directory was printed by the Journal of Commerce Press.  It contains some thirty-five hundred names.  It is a valuable document historically, and has been reproduced in facsimile.  It contains an alphabetical list of the residents' names; an excellent street guide, and a comprehensive list of city officials.  The pilots are listed for the San Joaquin and Sacramento River service.  S. Gamage and W. H. Joliff and Harbor Master James Hagen had offices at Clark's Point.  There are seven churches listed; seven newspapers, seven express companies.  The compiler of this useful little book lies at Laurel Hill:




July 11, 1821-April 28, 1894


In the sixties Andrew S. Hallidie was a manufacturer of wire rope and builder of suspension bridges.  He devised the system of street-car traction by cables, grips, and clutches, so extensively used in San Francisco before electricity was available.  The Clay Street line, in 1873, was the first of San Francisco's car lines to be operated by cable.  The same principles were employed that had been used by A. S. Hallidie successfully for traction in the mining districts.



March 16, 1838-April 24, 1900

Inventor of Cable Railroad System

Builder of First Cable Railway


In 1870, a feat engineering was accomplished by the same method of submarine excavation which has made possible our bridges and tunnels and tubes over and under navigational waters.  A reef in the Bay of San Francisco, known as Blossom Rock, which had long been a menace to navigation of Davis Street, was successfully blown up by A. W. Von Schmidt on May 23, 1870, after many months of drilling and other preparatory work.  Thousands of interested people from the hills overlooking the docks, and from boats, barges, and yards on the Bay, witnessed the explosion which blew up this dangerous work.  Alexey Waldemar Von Schmidt, president of the Von Schmidt Dredging Company, was born in Russia.  He became a civil engineer, and came to California at an early day.  He was president of the Society of California Pioneers in 1871-72.  In his large family plot at Laurel Hill, there are representatives of three generations, including Edward A. Von Schmidt who died April 12, 1899, in his forty-third year; and the instant children of A. W. Von Schmidt.


In the Donahue vault at Calvary Cemetery lies the body of Peter Donahue, a one of the men of iron whose forges laid the foundations of the industries of this city and this coast.  Peter Donahue founded the plant which subsequently became the Union Iron Works, which battleships were built in later years.  With money which he accumulated, many miles of street and steam railways were built in California.  Some of the roads he constructed himself; one, the North Pacific, was extended by his son Mervyn Donahue.  The brothers, Peter, Michael, and James Donahue, were born in Glasgow of Irish parents; in 1849 they arrived in San Francisco.  James Donahue died in August, 1862, at Laurel Wood, his stock farm in Santa Clara County.  He was buried in Calvary Cemetery.  He was twice married.  His daughter Mamie married Baron Von Schroeder, who died in Germany after the World War.  His son, Peter S. Donahue lived for many years at Laurel Wood, died unmarried June 3, 1910, an amiable bachelor, and one of the best picturesque figures in the society life of the nineties.  The monumental drinking fountains on lower Market Street in San Francisco, at the intersection of Bush and Battery streets, was erected in memory of Peter Donahue, with a fund of $25,000 left by his son, Mervyn.  A spirited bronze group by Douglas Tilden, the death-mute sculptor, surmounts a massive granite base.  At this crowded intersection of four streets it serves as a refuge for pedestrians.


Dedicated to Mechanics

by James Mervyn Donahue

In Memory on of his Father



San Francisco was fortunate in the high class of her mayors during the critical period  of the seventies.  Prominent citizens were chosen by the nominating conventions, and were elected by the people.  July 1, 1869, Thomas H. Selby became mayor.  An era of progress followed.


Following Thomas H. Selby, William Alvord was mayor or for two years.  Following him, James Otis became mayor July 1, 1873.  He had been a warm friend and supporter of Thomas Starr King, and in 1864 he was sent as a delegate to the National Convention which met in Baltimore and nominated Abraham Lincoln for re-election.  Again, in 1872, James Otis was sent as a delegate to the National Convention when General Grant was nominated in Philadelphia.  He was prominent in San Francisco's protest against granting Yerba Buena Island to any railway company.  James Otis was born in Boston when quite young entered the firm of Macondray & Company.  He served on the Board of Supervisors, in the State Legislature, as president of the Chamber on of Commerce, as president of the Mercantile Library Association and Laurel Hill Cemetery Association.  He died in October, 1875, and was buried at Laurel Hill.  Headstones in his large family plot mark the grave of Frederick W. Macondray and his wife, and William A. Macondray and his wife.


Andrew Jackson Bryant became mayor of San Francisco December 4, 1875, and served for four years.  He was a discreet businessman and stood at the helm during the Kearney riots which threaten to disrupt the city.  When General Grant arrived in San Francisco on the City of Tokio, September 20, 1879, after two years spent in a world tour, Mayor Bryant greeted him at the pier.  Among the many entertainments given in honor of General Grant and his party, Senator William Sharon's reception at his country estate at Belmont was the fete long to be remembered by the fifteen hundred or more guests.  Miss Flora Sharon, who assisted her father in receiving the guests, later became Lady Fermor-Hesketh, and went to live in England.  When she died, in 1924, her ashes were brought to Laurel Hill and placed in her father's tomb.


In the early days the Bank of California bought a large plot at Laurel Hill for their employees and members of the corporation.  It was afterward transferred to the late Robert F. Morrow, the Comstock magnate.  His ashes are buried there.  He died June 5, 1918, eighty-six years of age.  He and Adam Grant, who died March 21, 1904, were the principal owners of the old Sutter Street and Geary Street car lines.  Mrs. Adam Grant, died November 30, 1926, at the age of eighty-seven, came to California from England by way of the Hawaiian Islands in 1849.  Joseph D. Grant of San Francisco is her son.



A Native of Brooklyn, New York

Died June 29, 1865, Aged 29 Years

In Loving Memory


On October 14, 1886, some twenty years after his death, Dr. Edmund Gardiner Bryant, who died in Virginia City, Nevada, was brought to Laurel Hill to rest in Plot 2604, which stands in the name of Marie L. Mackay.  He was her first husband.  After her second marriage, Mrs. John W. Mackay (who had been Marie Louise Hungerford Bryant), while her children were young, went to live in Paris.  She became a patron of the arts and the friend of many American girls.  She took a prominent part in the perceptions held in the French capital for General Grant's party during his famous trip around the world.  Her daughter, Eva Bryant, was married to Prince Galatro -Colonna, and took up her residence in Italy.  Mrs. Mackay's portrait was painted by Meissonier; but it did not please her, and she did not exhibit it, which gave offense to the French people.


Meanwhile her charming character and the good she did with her great wealth inspired the creation of the character of Mrs. Scott in Ludovic Halevy’s "L’ Abbe Constantin,” one of the books read by little boys and girls all over the world when they are studying their first French.  And so Mrs. Mackay is not merely to be regarded as a personage in Parisian society—she is a figure in a novel that belongs to immortally to French literature.


Always cosmopolitan in her tastes, Mrs. Mackay then moved to London.  Established at 6 Carlton House Terrace she entertained lavishly for many years, and there the Prince of Wales was her guest.  Though her many social triumphs and her long residence abroad she still held “in loving memory” the sweetheart of her young days.  Some years after the death of her second husband in London, July 20, 1902, Mrs. Mackay returned to New York.  On September 5, 1928, at the home of her son, Clarence H. Mackay, at Roslyn, New York, she died at the age of eighty-five.  Her three grandchildren were at her bedside: John W. Mackay, Mrs. Kenneth O’Brien, and Mrs. Irving Berlin.


Jonathan Kittredge, who was born November 12, 1824, came to California by way of Panama in 1849.  He established a blacksmith shop at Clark’s Point, and afterwards became the owner of the Phoenix Iron Works.  His brother Joseph Kittredge (1800-1882) was proprietor of the Pioneer Iron Works.  Both are buried at Laurel Hill in their family plot on Mount Hope Path.





In 1919, the ashes of Nathan Stein were placed beside his twin brother' s grave.  The twins, Aaron and Nathan, set sail together on life's long voyage; but Nathan did not drop here till nineteen years after Aaron.  Wells Fargo erected their monument.  Under a granite slab lie George T. Marye (1817-1883) and his wife Helen, who died in 1902.  He was a prominent citizen of Virginia City and later of San Francisco.  The story of his wife is published in San Francisco by his son, George T. Marye, Jr., in a volume entitled "From' 49 to ' 83 in California and Nevada," dedicated to "To the Society of California Pioneers, whose members share in all the hardships and achievements of those days."  George T. Marye, Jr., was Ambassador to Russia at the outbreak of the World War.


In the miniature Gothic temple of rich brown sandstone built by Nicholas Luning many years ago, rest his son-in-law;




July 10, 1855-January 14, 1897


Dr. Jonathan Clark died at the old Grand Hotel in San Francisco March 29, 1884.  He was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, February 26, 1826, a great-grandson of Abraham Clark, signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Continental Congress from New Jersey.  While a youth in Iowa, Jonathan Clark enlisted for the War with Mexico, and it was severely wounded in an Indian fight.  In 1849 he crossed the planes to California and spent one season in the mines.  In November, 1853, he was appointed acting assistant surgeon in the United States Army, serving under the command of Colonel R. C. Buchanan, Fourth Infantry, and was assigned to duty at Ford Humboldt, two miles from Eureka.  It was their General Grant served as Captain of Company F for nine months, and then resigned from the army to become a farmer.  When the Civil War came on Dr. Jonathan Clark was commissioned surgeon of the First Battalion of California Volunteers, and served three years.


Maud Younger, long in charge of election activities for National Woman's Party in Washington D.C., was born in San Francisco.  She died at her home in Los Gatos in 1936.  Her father, Dr. William J. Younger, in March, 1869, purchased Plot 1789, on Lone Mountain Avenue, for his young wife; the ashes of their daughters are also buried there.


In a nearby plot at Laurel Hill lies Pedar Sather (1810-1886), banker, born in Norway, with his wife, Sarah.  With a part of the Sather fortune, Jane K. Sather, widow of the banker, erected the Sather Gate and the beautiful Campanile at Berkeley.  Emile Bruguiere (1849-1900) also lies there.  His wife, a daughter of the banker, was drowned at sea.


Adjoining this pilot is Colonel Hiram Pearson's plot.  He was a wealthy man and owned a large amount of productive real estate.  He resided at the Russ House.  After his death Mrs. Pearson's resided at the Lick House.  Their son was accidentally drowned at in Lake Michigan.  Some two or three years after his death, the real property of Hiram Pearson's estate was sold at auction, and among other items was the State title to about eighteen inches of a beach and water lot at Clark's Point, belonging to William S. Clark.  It was bid in by the Clark estate for $150. 


Nearby stands the large vault of Albert W. Sisson, who was born in Cattaraugus County, New York, October 11, 1827, and died November 18, 1888, leaving a wife and four sons.  He was a merchant, and was also interested in the importation of fine cattle from Australia.  While the Central Pacific Railroad was in course of construction, the firm of Sisson, Wallace & Crocker, subsequently Sisson & Crocker, of which he was the head, did an extensive business furnishing supplies to the construction forces.


The plot of William H. Wallace, of the said firm, adjoining Senator Fair's and Gothic mausoleum.  His daughter became the wife of Dr. Morris Herzstein.


The large sketch of lawn near the large is maintained by a perpetual care fund, paid years ago by French executors.  Under the native oaks in a double tomb of black marble lie Andre Chavanne and Emelie Chavanne.


David Porter (1833-1893), wholesale wine and liquor merchant, whose home on Nob Hill occupied the block where the Fairmont hotel now stands, was born in Scotland.  His daughter fell in love with the handsome opera singer, Campobello, and she married him.  In the family plot 2652, at Laurel Hill, were placed the ashes of Eliza V. Porter (1837-1908).


The accident which cause the death of Samuel Knight, April 16, 1866, at forty-five years of age, is not mentioned in the inscription on his monument.  Pe was killed by the accidental explosion of a case of nitro-glycerin in the offices of Wells Fargo & Co., at California and Montgomery streets, where he was manager.  The death toll that day was eleven persons, and as many more were seriously injured.  Samuel Knight, Yale man, one-time United States attorney, and beloved Red Cross worker for thirty-nine years, is the son of Samuel Knight whose resting place is Laurel Hill.


On April 11, 1853, went on ship from Alviso to San Francisco, with about one hundred twenty-five passengers, the steam pipe of Jenny Lynn was blown out, scalding many of those on board.  Thirty-one lost their lives as a result of their injuries.  The history of this accident is recorded in its inscriptions.




Born Buffalo, New York, October 26, 1827.  Died San Francisco, April 12, 1853, from injuries received by explosion of the Steamer Jenny Lynn.  He was an honest man, the pride of a father's heart; had no enemies and had many friends.  Erected to his memory by his only living brother.


WILLIAM BOSWORTH, April 12, 1819-December 12, 1887

WILLIAM BOSWORTH, JR. December 18, 1861-May 3, 1884

MARY C. BOSWORTH October 12, 1829-May 29, 1910


Capt. Henry P. Hulbert, who was born October 11, 1813, was commander of the California Steam Navigation Company's steamer Sophie McLane, running between San Francisco and Suisun.  He lost his life as a result of injuries received from the explosion which wrecked the steamer at Suisun on the morning of October 26, 1864.  A number of the passengers and crew were fatally injured.  There were many accidents of this kind in the pioneer days of steamships, due to the use of high-pressure engines without proper supervision. 


William F. Babcock (1820-1885), a native of Massachusetts, became a leading merchant in San Francisco.  Came from New Orleans in 1852.  With A. B. Forbes he took over the agency of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company.  He was also president of the Spring Valley Water Company for a time.  In the Babcock vault at Laurel Hill appears, beside his own, the name of a little grandson, William F. Babcock, son of William Babcock, who was fatally injured when thrown from his horse; he was eleven years of age.


The ashes of Oscar T. Shuck are buried at Laurel Hill.  He compiled a number of useful books among them "Representative Men of the Pacific," "California Anthology," "Official Roll of San Francisco," "Eloquence of the Far West," "Bench and Bar of California."  Dr. Bronte, Secretary of the Board of Regents of the University of California, once wrote to him: "You are making good books; a novel is nowhere compared with your reminiscence in' Bench and Bar'."


These lines are from Gray' s Elegy:


Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mould' ring heap,

Each in his narrow cell for ever laid

The rude forefathers of a hamlet sleep.


Perhaps in his neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;

Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,

Or wak’d to extasy the living lyre.


The eighteenth century was fifty years old when Thomas Gray gave to the world and to immortality his "Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard."  The typical eighteenth-century man was, in most respects, as hard and cold as steel, but it would never have entered his mind to move a cemetery.  Careless of the rights of his fellow man he might be, but the bones of his forefathers were safe from even the thought of desecration.  Today, two hundred years later after Thomas Gray meditated and was inspired there, the country church-yard at Stoke Pogis is in inviolate--and will remain inviolate forever.


Mention of Thomas Gray brings to mind a Gray of San Francisco-- Nathaniel Gray, our honored pioneer undertaker.  An antidote will not be amiss.


The late Charles B. Turrill whose large collection of California and he Californiana was given to the Society of California Pioneers, was one of the first to protest against the desecration, by removal, of Laurel Hill Cemetery.  In an argument before a committee of the Board of Supervisors he exclaimed:


"These fourbearers of ours have promised unbroken sleep.  Dare we break that promise?  Gentlemen, if old Nathaniel Gray could have anticipated that you would entertain this proposal, he would have put wheels on his coffins!"


All who slumber on the bosom of Laurel Hill, as these pages indicate, are not our "rude forefathers"--far from it.  Here are our Great, our Builders.  Resting here are those who verily helped sway the rod of empire; yes, and poets who waked the lyre to music.


Bret Hart was among those who review Laurel Hill.  This is his tribute:


This is the hill of awe

That Persian Sindbad saw,--

The mount magnetic;

And on its seaward face,

Scattered along its base,

The wrecks prophetic.


Here come the argosies

Blown by each idle breeze,

To and fro shifting;

Yet to the hill of Fate

All drawing, soon or late,--

Day by day drifting;


Drifting forever here

Barks that for many a year

Braved wind and weather;

Shallops but yesterday

Launched on yon shining bay,--

Drawn all together.


This is the end of all:

Sun thyself by the wall,

O poorer Hindbad!

Envy not Sindbad's fame:

Here, come alike the same

Hindbad and Sindbad.





© 2003 Nancy Pratt Melton


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