I recently spent some time tracking down primary sources about the Whittell family in the Bay Area. It will take me some time to get all that together in a blog format to report back some of the amazing things I found about our Whittells, but in the meantime, I thought I would share some pictures with you. Once I finished in the city, I headed down to Colma to visit the family graves; it was a very moving experience. As a historian, I am used to the fact my subjects are, well, dead. However, sometimes moments hit when it becomes very personal and history comes alive. After spending so much time investigating their lives, it was very overwhelming to be standing near them. I left flowers and pulled some weeds, but it touched me that it was clear no one has visited in a long time. I plan to try and do this regularly.
I found it interesting the family is split up in the Cypress Lawn cemeteries. In the east cemetery is the family crypt which holds Nicholas Luning, Ellen Luning, B. Dempsy (Ellen’s mother), John Nicholas Luning and Arthur H. Luning (they share one space, both were about a year old at death), Nicholas Luning Jr., and two empty spaces. Across from them are George Whittell Sr., Anna L. Whittell, George Whittell Jr., Elia Whittell, and Nicholas Whittell and three empty spaces. Most of George Sr.’s wealth and influence was inherited from his father-in-law, Nicholas Luning, so this might be why he, rather than Hugh Whittell, is interned in the crypt. It is a beautiful specimen of Art Deco design.
The rest of the Whittells are over in the west cemetery. Most notable is Hugh Whittell’s large pyramid. Near that is the graves of Dr. A.P. Whittell, his wife Jennie, their daughter Florence Whittell Albert (or as I call her Florence Irene), and Flora Wharry (Hugh’s only daughter).
Then there is another Whittell in the west cemetery and this was the most saddening. Alfred is buried away from his family, alone. To make it even more clear his place in the history as a Whittell, the headstone is missing.
I am very glad I took the time to visit and as I mentioned before, I hope to try and make it a regular occurrence.