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While the clatter of the hammer and buzz of the saw are heard throughout the burned section of San Francisco, and temporary bungalows are sprouting on the ground where once stood more substantial and handsomer structures, out in the silent acres of the dead nothing has been done as yet toward repairing the damage wrought by the big earthquake. Solid blocks of marble weighing tons lie broken on the ground, untouched since the morning they were hurled from their bases by the shaking earth. In these stirring times of reconstruction, where every moment means so much to the living, men have little time to give a thought to the dead.

The damage in the cemeteries, from a monetary standpoint, seems almost beyond calculation. Repairs to some of the dislodged monuments will run into thousands of dollars, say the artisans who handle and cut the marble; repairs to all the damaged monuments, mausoleums and headstones in the cemeteries located within this county and on the grassy slopes down near San Mateo will reach a figure at which even the superintendents of the various places will not hazard a guess. All this is damage which cannot be repaired for months, even if the work should begin immediately.

That is the money side of it—quite important in itself, but there is another side; it is in the several cemeteries more than any other place that the freaks of the disturbance are shown. Monuments only a few feet from each other have toppled over in exactly opposite. The midsection of some monuments moved one way, while the capstone has moved the other, the base remaining solid. The movement of other stones near by seems to have been rotary. In a word, the earthquake was “a twister.” That was the designation given it by the secretary of the Odd Fellows’ Cemetery out on Point Lobos avenue and it seems to sum the thing up better than any scientific exposition yet made.

Most curious of all the freaks in and around the grave yards is to be seen in a little stoneyard opposite the entrance of the Masonic Cemetery in this city. Two small monuments standing about four feet high and each built of three solid blocks of marble, were awaiting customers near the gate the morning of the shock. Identical in everything except color, they were also affected identically by the earthquake. The top section of each monument now stands exactly in the place it was put by the cutter. The midsection of each, however, has moved in a straight line a little over a fraction of three inches eastward. In other words, the top of each monument had not been disturbed, while the large block between the top and base had moved more than three inches out of alignment. How this could have happened seems inconceivable.

It resembles the trick performed by certain dexterous jugglers who pull a tablecloth from a table without disturbing the position of the dishes. Near the two monuments is a narrow piece of stone left standing. A child could push it over.

Over in the odd Fellows’ Cemetery the way the shock affected the three largest monuments is interesting. That of Charles de Young was scarcely disturbed at all, the column supporting the statue being but a little more than an inch out of alignment. Down the graveled road a little ways is the statue of John F. Morse, a past grand master of the order. The statue itself has moved forward about six inches at right angles to the slight movement of the column on the de Young statue. One’s first impression is that the figure has taken a step forward and will topple over if it takes another. While these two statutes escaped serious injury the monument erected in honor of S.M. Parker, the first grand master in the State of California and founder of the Parker Lodge, was shattered into a thousand pieces. Up on the hill in the southeast corner of the cemetery it lies in broken ruins, surrounded by beds of perfumed flowers. A cow grazing near the place yesterday lent a jarring touch of incongruity to a scene that awed.

In all of the cemeteries this side of the county line the effect of the shock is to be seen, even with a birdseye glance. Were one to carefully examine all the monuments in Calvary, Masonic, Laurel Hill, Odd Fellows’ and the old city cemetery the result would be astonishing. The keeper of one of these cemeteries ventured it as his opinion that there weren’t three pieces of stone in his cemetery that hadn’t been disturbed in some way or another.

In Calvary Cemetery all but the base of the monument to Edward Martin, husband of Eleanor Martin, is lying on the ground. There are fallen cherubim up a winding road to the left of the entrance and Madonnas that have toppled over. A few of the larger monuments escaped, and the mausoleums were not injured seriously. The Donahue mausoleum, with its Madonna on top and its four spires, was unharmed beyond the displacement of one of its corner spires. The W.S. O’Brien was not touched, even the glass door remaining unbroken.

Over in the Masonic Cemetery the principal damage was done to the Brittian monument, the tallest in the cemetery. It was hurled to the ground. The Irvine monument suffered some bad twists in its columns and the Conrad vault was badly damaged. The Judson vault was wrecked and the bust on the William T. Garrett monument lies in the grass. The monument to Ben Freeman, an old California pioneer, was demolished.

The columbarium at the Odd Fellows’ Cemetery sustained a crevice in its west wing. This, however, was used for a storeroom and no damage inside resulted. All of the windows are intact. The Schwerin monument near by was thrown from its base. The top part of the Salvin P. Collins monument is twisted considerably out of position and the urn which once surmounted it lies broken on the ground. Opposite the Charles de Young statue is the David Hunter monument, which, had it moved an inch further on its base, would have fallen.

The new Fair mausoleum, in Laurel Hill Cemetery, all white and shining with its polished marble, weathered the shock with no more serious damage than the breaking of a small Gothic spire on one of its four corners. The Senator Broderick monument, only a few steps away is minus a capstone and is out of plumb, so that it may have to be rebuilt. The midsection of the Alexander Pope Whittell monument has moved eastward a few inches, and the top section of the Tonjes, Joost monument has moved northward, while the midsection moved southward.

Beyond the county line, down among the beautiful cemeteries of San Mateo county, the damage done was not so extensive as here in the city. The shock may have been as great there as here, but the fact that the monuments and mausoleums are, for the most part, of more modern and more expensive construction perhaps saved them.

The mausoleums escaped damage almost entirely. For instance in Cypress Lawn Cemetery, the Kohl and Hobart mausoleums are intact, while midway between them the Hancock monument is demolished, and lies on the daisy-dotted lawn, a pile of shattered marble. Toppled spires are everywhere, some of the taller ones being broken into several pieces, besides being thrown from their bases.

The gray-green sandstone building which has served as the office of the Holy Cross Cemetery is a wreck. It was affected very much in the same way as the City Hall here in town. The Rudolph Spreckels mausoleum, in Cypress Lawn, stands as it did before the quake, while just across the roadway there lie fallen columns from the Samuel Greer monument, the top section of which is twisted to an oblique position.

San Francisco Chronicle
May 6, 1906

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