Hebrew Cemetery Tombstones - Sonora, CA #general
Jeremy Frankel wrote:
"The cemetery Roberta Kendall discovered is one of several that
were created during the Gold Rush era. These were in the main
short-lived Jewish communities, that eventually died out as Jews
moved to San Francisco, Sacramento, etc. The cemeteries became
overgrown and there was no-one to care for them....."
He goes on to tell us how some of these cemeteries have
recently been restored and rededicated.
I found this particularly interesting, because we see exactly
the same phenomenon with the Australian Gold Rush. Jewish
communities that flourished in Gold Rush towns likewise disappeared
when the Gold Rush fizzled out, leaving cemeteries behind with no one
to care for them. And, just like the one Roberta Kendall discovered,
some have been restored in recent times, often because the Gold Rush
town itself was restored as a tourist attraction.
My Anglo-Jewish greatgrandfather and most of his eight siblings
emigrated Down Under >from London in the mid-19th century, along with
many gentile Britons of that generation who went out to the colonies
during the Gold Rush. (My maternal grandfather was actually born
in New Zealand in 1864 -- so I am a Kosher Kiwi by descent!)
My ggf's eldest sister Lydia and her husband married in the Sydney
synagogue in 1847, and lived in Goulston, where many Jewish peddlers
and merchants had settled to supply the gold-miners' needs.
(Back then, Goulston had the third largest Jewish community in Australia.)
Lydia, who died in 1862 giving birth to her eighth child, is buried
in the Jewish cemetery -- which was restored and rededicated in 1987
when Goulston was restored as a historic site and tourist attraction.
Due to the favorable climate, Lydia's inscription (both Hebrew and
English) is still clearly legible! The Hebrew says: " Here lies Leah
bas Mordechai, wife of Yosef ben Jekuthiel, who departed on the Holy
Sabbath Day, 13rd Adar Sheni, and was buried on the second day of Purim
in the year 5622 aged thirty-seven years."
It is indeed gratifying that these abandoned Jewish cemeteries are
benefiting >from the restoration of historic Gold Rush towns both in
America and in Australia.
Judith Romney Wegner
The cemetery Roberta Kendall discovered is one of several that
were created during the Gold Rush era. These were in the main short-lived
Jewish communities, that eventually died out as Jews moved to San Francisco,
Sacramento, etc. The cemeteries became overgrown and there was no-one
to care for them.
In 1974 the Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Jewish
Cemeteries of the Judah L. Magnes Museum (of Berkeley California)
entered into agreements as the successor trustee with local
communities to assume responsibility for the upkeep and preservation
of these historic cemeteries.
In early August there was a special dedication ceremony in Marysville
for the new entrance gates. Other cemeteries include Jackson,
Mokelumne Hill, Sonora, Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Placerville.
All these cemeteries have been documented and photographed by the
Western Jewish History Center, the arm of the Magnes Museum that is
actively recording and collecting material relating to the nine
western states of the United States.
A descriptive book was researched and written by a former director
of the Magnes, Susan Morris, entitled "A Traveler's Guide to Pioneer
Jewish Cemeteries of the California Gold Rush." This is well worth
reading for further information on the cemeteries and how to visit
Jeremy G Frankel
Berkeley, California, USA
San Francisco Bay Area
Jewish Genealogical Society
On a recent trip to Sonora, CA, I was able to take a few pictures of
several tombstones in the Hebrew Cemetery. Unfortunately the cemetery
is closed to the public and locked, so I had to stretch my arm through
the gate and take the pics that way.
The names on the stones are:
CARO, Hartwig - >from Posen, died 1853
BAER, Fanny - daughter of Mr. & Mrs. H Baer - died July 1870, 2 years old
REEB, Moses - >from Germany, died 1891
OPPENHEIMER, Caroline - daughter of Henry & Hannah - infant died Dec.
1822, 1 month old
Here is a link to the pictures:
Best, Roberta KENDALL
San Jose, CA
MODERATOR NOTE: Please consider contributing these pictures to the
JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) so they will be
widely available and searchable. See
for more information.