For Santa Rosa and San Francisco, the 1906 earthquake was a painful family tragedy they couldn’t let outsiders forget. The locals wanted to celebrate the hustle of new construction everywhere – the shining city that was rising on foggy hills and the fine little metropolis being assembled on the Santa Rosa Plain. Trouble was, there can be no phoenix without ashes first; to boast of their truly remarkable progress, they had to also dredge up all the horrors that forced them to nearly start from scratch. It was a conundrum they didn’t escape until the great 1915 Exposition put San Francisco and the the rest of the Bay Area on center stage.
Santa Rosa allowed the quake’s first anniversary to pass virtually unnoticed, and it was almost time for the 2-year mark before the city created any sort of memorial for the dead. Even then, the tribute was unremarkable; an average-sized headstone for the seventeen people who were buried quickly in a mass grave. The monument cost the city $375.
MONUMENT MARKS GRAVE OF VICTIMS
“To the Memory of Those Who Died in the Disaster of April, 1906”–A Neat Tribute
“In memory of those who died in the disaster of April, 1906.”
Such is the inscription cut into imperishable granite, marking the last resting place of many of the fire and earthquake victims in that big grave out on the hillside in Santa Rosa cemetery.
The monument, a big granite tablet, resting on a solid base, has been completed by Kinslow Brothers. Around the big plot a neat stone coping has been constructed and the entire surface of the grave has been cemented over so that for an eternity the weeds cannot destroy the neatness of the memorial. The monument stands in the center. On either side smaller headstones, erected by relatives, mark the graves of Joe Woods and the Bluth boys, George and Willie, two of the Press Democrat carriers, who lost their lives on the morning of the earthquake.
A raised block marks off the respective graves and tells the name of him or her who rests beneath, with the exception of four. The latter are designated “No. 1,” “No. 4,” “No. 6,” “No. 7”–they are the graves of the unknown dead, poor humans whose remains were never identified.
The names of the identified dead who were buried on the memorable April afternoon when the hearse made so many trips to the silent city bearing the mute evidences of the awful catastrophe: Mrs. C. Heath, Josephine Ely, Marshall Ely, George and Willie Bluth, John Murphy, Charles W. Palm, C. A. Trudgeon, Frank Downing, Nicholas Stampfli, Joe Woods, and John Murphy (two men of the same name being among the dead).
On the recommendation of the relief commission the City Council set aside a certain sum for the erection of a monument and coping and the work was entrusted to Kinslow Brothers who have just completed their contract very creditably.
It is a simple, but effective tribute to the dead. On each recurring anniversary, April 18, perchance some fragrant blossoms will be dropped on that chilly block of stone, indicating that some in the number who rest beneath, though lost to sight, are to memory very dear. They are sleeping. Even the giant tread of an earthquake cannot disturb them now.– Press Democrat, February 11, 1908