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After my recent trip to Colma, which I wrote about in my blog post about visiting the family graves, a few questions arose in my mind.  As I mentioned before, it was a very moving experience and I am glad I took the time to do it, but those questions have been nagging me.  The first, is why the Whittells are split with Hugh, A.P. and his wife, and Florence, over in the east cemetery and George Sr., Jr., Elia, Anna, and the Lunings in the west cemetery in the Whittell crypt.  There is certainly room for the other Whittells.  So I started searching for burial records and finally hit gold. I found the order for grave removals that moved the Lunings from their family crypt into the Whittell crypt (posted below).  It was done in 1928, meaning that it was either George Jr. and/or Anna that ordered the move.  Eugene Connelly, who was noted as the person on the document who ordered the move, was a long-time employee of both Sr. and Jr.  The Lunings had been buried in the Laurel Hill cemetery, which was part of the decision to remove burial grounds from within the city limits of San Francisco.  Here is a bit more information on that: http://sf.curbed.com/archives/2012/07/02/hidden_histories_laurel_hill_cemetery.php.  Since the Whittells of course had the means to move their ancestors, they did so.  Of another note, according to newspaper sources, Hugh Whittell had his large pyramid headstone created before he passed and would visit it often.  He did not want a family crypt, but rather to use his headstone to show off his many accomplishments – some of which seem unlikely to have been possible.  That, however, is another blog post.

WhittellGraveRemovals

Ancestry.com. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985.

The second question was about Nicholas, Jr.’s brother.  As I peered into the crypt, I noticed that Nicholas Whittell’s place of rest was the furthest from the door.  This made it difficult to see, but from what I could tell it read 1880 – 1885.  But wait, they were twins, weren’t they?  So it should read 1881.  I used the zoom on my camera:

IMG_0984

As with a great deal of the Whittell history, I started wondering where did the twin story come from?  We have no birth certificates or anything along those lines in the archives.  Perhaps because it was so far from the door I was reading it wrong.  Once I got back to the Lodge and looked at the photo closer I knew it read 1880.  Then I found the removal record.  There is Nicholas L. Whittell and his death was noted as March 19th, 1885 at age 4 years, 11 months, and 20 days.  That is a very detailed account of days and the date making it highly likely it is correct because of that amount of detail.  So doing the calculation, that means he was born on March 30, 1880.

I am very confident in saying that Nicholas and George Jr. were not twins.  Between the detail in the record, no history that I can find of twins on either side of the family, and no credible sources saying otherwise, there is no real case to support the twin story. However, if anyone can find credible material that says otherwise, I would love to see it!

More to come – so much to discover about this amazing family…

-Jesse