Last Monday I walked to Cypress Hill Memorial Park for no particular reason other than it is a great destination walk and only about a mile and a half from my house.
I enjoy checking out the different styles of tombstones and reading the inscriptions. One of these days I’d like to organize a tour that highlights not only the history of the cemetery and those buried there, but the architecture and symbolism of the grave markers themselves. The Sonoma County Library has a great book on the subject called Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written by Douglas Keister that I’d reference.
This tour might include the grave of Albert Frederick Adams which caught my eye on Monday, perhaps because it was Veterans Day.
At first glance one might think that since the year of death on this headstone is 1924 that that is when the stone was made. Not true.
Jess E. Dabner of the American Legion, Post 28, applied to the War Department for the headstone on January 24, 1939. It was shipped to the cemetery on March 16, 1939.
Born on February 16, 1896, Albert was a Petaluma native. His parents were Robert S. and Amelia Adams. Robert Adams was Petaluma’s fire chief at the time of his son’s death. Albert and his brother, Robert, Jr. grew up in the family home at 2 Keller Street, which was located where a portion of the A Street parking lot is today.
Prior to enlisting in the United States Navy, in July of 1917, Albert worked for Jack Morris on Western Avenue as a shoe maker.
Albert was discharged from the Navy on October 2, 1919, having served as a Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class.
Despite his medical training, Albert continued in the shoe business when he returned to Petaluma. According to the Census, he worked as a salesman at a shoe store in 1920.
The California Death Index states that Albert died in San Francisco where he may have been living. San Francisco city directories do list an Albert Adams, shoemaker, residing at 3551 24th Street in 1921 and 1923.
On July 17, 1924, the Petaluma Argus reported that “all of the city offices of this city will close at noon tomorrow as a token of respect to Fire Chief Robert S. Adams so long and so prominently connected with city affairs and the flag at city hall will fly at half mast out of respect to Albert Adams. The young man’s father has been for many years the efficient chief of the fire department and the dead youth was born and reared within the shadow of the city hall.”
The funeral took place at the John C. Mount parlors under the auspices of the Odd Fellows.
No cause of death is specified in any of Albert’s obituaries. A death certificate would provide that information and because Albert died in San Francisco, that is where I’d need to go.
For $16, and a visit to the San Francisco County Clerk, I could discover what took the life of this young World War I veteran. In the meantime, I’m happy to have learned a bit more about those who occupy Petaluma’s past.
Research for this article provided by Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library volunteer, Barbara McFarland.