Dr. Laura Jones, archaeologist and historic preservation specialist

Background

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is one of the oldest voluntary civic organizations in the United States, with its first US lodge established in Baltimore in 1819. The American Odd Fellows organization separated from its British origins in 1843 to become the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The IOOF is credited as the first national insurance provider in the United States, as members could transfer their burial and sickness benefits from one lodge to another, an especially important practice during the decades of western expansion during the nineteenth century. The IOOF’s missions are to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.”

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the IOOF established over 800 cemeteries in the United States. At least forty-seven of these cemeteries are located in California. The Half Moon Bay IOOF Cemetery, less than three acres in size, is a relatively small example of an IOOF cemetery in California.

Name

City

County

Interments

Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery

Sacramento

Sacramento

25544

Garden of Memories/ IOOF Cemetery

Salinas

Monterey

12119

San Luis Cemetery/ Odd Fellows

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo

9962

Paso Robles District Cemetery/ Odd Fellows

Paso Robles

Orange

9137

Gavilan Hills Memorial Park/ IOOF Cemetery

Gilroy

Santa Clara

8393

Willows Cemetery/ IOOF Cemetery

Willows

Glenn

6899

Santa Rosa Odd Fellows Cemetery

Santa Rosa

Sonoma

5792

East Line Street Cemetery/ Odd Fellows

Bishop

Inyo

5727

IOOF Cemetery

Crescent City

Del Norte

5441

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Fresno

Fresno

5277

Modesto Pioneer Cemetery/ Odd Fellows

Modesto

Stanislaus

5218

Santa Cruz Memorial Park/ Odd Fellows

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

4665

Pioneer Cemetery/ Odd Fellows

Watsonville

Santa Cruz

4338

Soquel Cemetery/ IOOF Cemetery

Soquel

Santa Cruz

3843

Odd Fellows Cemetery (relocated)

San Francisco

San Francisco

3737

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Hollister

San Benito

2963

Rio Vista Odd Fellows and Masonic Cemetery

Rio Vista

Solano

2800

West Selma Cemetery/ IOOF Cemetery

Selma

Fresno

2302

Odd Fellows and Masonic Cemetery

Grass Valley

Nevada

2208

Pleasanton Memorial Gardens Cemetery/ IOOF Cemetery

Pleasanton

Alameda

1815

Orland IOOF Cemetery

Orland

Glenn

1805

Pacheco Cemetery/ Odd Fellows

Pacheco

Contra Costa

1398

Oceanview Cemetery/ Odd Fellows

Oceanside

San Diego

1168

Masons and IOOF Cemetery

Rohnerville

Humboldt

1044

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Point Arena

Mendocino

921

Saratoga IOOF Cemetery

Saratoga

Santa Clara

836

Sonora Odd Fellows Cemetery

Sonora

Tuolumne

775

Traver Cemetery/ IOOF Cemetery

Traver

Tulare

697

Jenny Lind IOOF Cemetery

Jenny Lind

Calaveras

563

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Fallbrook

San Diego

471

Hydesville IOOF Cemetery

Hydesville

Humboldt

365

Mariposa IOOF Cemetery

Mariposa

Mariposa

335

IOOF Cemetery

Half Moon Bay

San Mateo

292

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Diamond Springs

El Dorado

233

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Sutter Creek

Amador

216

IOOF Cemetery

Thermalito

Butte

206

Millville IOOF Cemetery

Millville

Shasta

198

Boulder Creek IOOF Cemetery

Boulder Creek

Santa Cruz

187

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Michigan Bluff

Placer

174

Bear Valley Odd Fellows Cemetery

Bear Valley

Mariposa

77

IOOF Cemetery

Fiddletown

Amador

74

IOOF Cemetery

Dutch Flat

Placer 

28

Winters Cemetery/ IOOF Cemetery

Winters

Shasta

11

Old IOOF Cemetery

Selma

Fresno

7

Plymouth IOOF Cemetery

Plymouth

Amador

4

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Anderson

Shasta

3

The IOOF Cemetery in Half Moon Bay

The IOOF Cemetery in Half Moon Bay was established by Ocean View Lodge 143 in 1875, on a plot of 3 acres purchased from the Vasques family. The Vasques family had previously donated land to the Catholic Church to establish a church and cemetery on an adjacent plot known as the Pilarcitos Cemetery. These two cemeteries, no longer in active use, are marked by white wooden fences along the side of Highway 92 as it enters the small town of Half Moon Bay.

Until the establishment of Skylawn Memorial Park in 1959 on a hillside above the town, the IOOF Cemetery was the local cemetery for non-Catholics and also provided graves for indigents, mariners who washed ashore, and suicide victims whether or not they were members of the IOOF. A number of prominent local citizens, who were also leaders in the IOOF Lodge, are buried in the IOOF Cemetery. Burials rapidly declined after 1959, with a small number of interments in family plots until the last known burial in the cemetery in 1994.

While the IOOF Ocean View Lodge 143 took payment for grave sites, and provided funeral ceremonies to its members, the cemetery was largely under the management of the local funeral home (Dutra Francis, then Dutra Randleman, and finally Dutra Miller). The IOOF sold the cemetery in 1993 to the Half Moon Bay Historical Foundation for $1 under the expectation that the Foundation would maintain the cemetery as a historical site. Conditions at the cemetery continued to deteriorate however and in 2000 the cemetery parcel was acquired by neighboring landowner Eddie Andreini. Mr. Andreini agreed to record the IOOF Cemetery with the California Historical Resources Information System as an archaeological site. The IOOF Ocean View Lodge 143 organizes community service clean-up days and interpretive events at the cemetery.

General Description

The IOOF Cemetery is a rectangular site located on the ridge of a small hill. The lowest portion of the site, as the hill slopes down at the back of the lot (away from Highway 92), does not appear to have been used for graves. The active cemetery area was historically surrounded by lines of Monterey Cypress trees as seen in a 1943 aerial photograph reproduced in part below.

cemetery1943

1943 Aerial Photo, courtesy U.C. Santa Cruz. IOOF Cemetery marked by lines of Monterey Cypress trees.

cemetery2017

2017 Aerial Photo, NearMap

The cemetery had three entries: 1) the main entrance marked by a gate and overhead sign at the center of the street frontage with a circular driveway, 2) a second small entrance to the east connecting to a 3) small driveway at the northeast corner. These secondary entrances serviced the section of the cemetery (the eastern end) that received the indigent and bodies washed ashore, and hosted markers for sailors lost at sea. (Hearses and funeral wagons required either a turn-around or a drive-through arrangement to enter and exit the site.) The main entry circle has a flagpole.

A grave plot map maintained by the funeral home shows a grid layout of approximately 1360 grave lots. Several dozen “family plots” appear on the map and these are generally marked by concrete borders and monuments in the cemetery, with dimensions that correspond to the 1940 funeral home map.

IOOF cemetery 1940

Revised Map of IOOF Cemetery April 27, 1940 by L.D.Griffith for Dutra Randleman Funeral Home. Courtesy of of Eddie Andreini. (full size map 2.5MB)

Family Plots

Family plots with curbed edges, looking west from main entry circle (May 27, 2017)

The cemetery’s “hedge” of Monterey Cypress trees has grown into a small forest. A line of Cypress at the steep slope on the northern side of the cemetery appears to mark the limit of the graves. The western end of the cemetery (adjacent to Pilarcitos Cemetery) has few headstones or marked plots on the 1940 map and may also have functioned as a road access to the western edge of the cemetery.

There can be no certainty on how many people are buried in the cemetery. Some graves may never have been marked, others had wooden headstones that have deteriorated or disappeared. Only X headstones have survived on the site in 2017. Archival sources suggest that at least 500 people may have been buried in the cemetery. An effort was made to identify as many names as possible.

Archival Sources

The most important primary source are the Funeral Home books kept by the Francis and Dutra Funeral Home. Eight volumes have survived (rescued from the local landfill in 1958) dating from 1902 through the 1950s. Seven of these are in the collection of the Half Moon Bay History Association and the eighth is located at the IOOF Ocean View Lodge 143 archives. The books provide details on the deceased manner of death, dates of birth and death, the name of the person who paid for the funeral, and the cemetery in which they were buried.

The 1940 Revised Map of the IOOF Cemetery is also an important primary source, however it notes both plots that have been sold and those where burials have taken place. There may be plots that were sold without being used by their owners. There are a number of marked graves in the cemetery that are not on the map and thus it is not a complete record of burials at the site. The map also notes pricing of grave plots and that a section of the cemetery was reserved for IOOF members and their families.

The IOOF Ocean View Lodge 143 archive has a few pages of a Cemetery Committee financial ledger sporadically recording sales of grave plots between 1875 and 1927. Like the 1940 map, there is some confusion between plot sales and actual burials with this source.

Local volunteers from the Daughters of the American Revolution undertook a survey of headstones in the IOOF Cemetery and adjacent Pilarcitos Cemetery in 1935 and 1937. The records are not entirely clear which headstones were found in which cemetery but do provide a record of many wooden headstones that have disappeared. These reports are on file in the San Mateo County Historical Archives in Redwood City.

Dayna Chalif recorded both cemeteries in 2005, listing 161 names from headstones and describing another 26 markers with names she could not decipher. Her records are filed on several genealogy websites including www.findagrave.com and www.interment.net.

Newspaper obituaries and funeral notices were also searched for records of burials at the IOOF Cemetery (searched both as IOOF Cemetery and as Odd Fellows Cemetery).

These sources produced a list of over 500 persons likely to have been buried at the IOOF Cemetery.

Notable Persons Buried in the IOOF Cemetery

Robert Israel Knapp arrived from New York in 1871 (Half Moon Bay was still known as Spanishtown in this period). He established a blacksmith’s shop with Peter Quinlan on Main Street and is best known for his invention of the “Side-Hill Plow” which he patented in 1875. Mr. Knapp ran unsuccessfully for Governor twice on the Prohibitionist ticket.

Early American arrivals in Spanishtown James, William, John and Thomas Johnston were brothers from Ohio who purchased ranches from Mexican land grantees in the 1850s. Thomas Johnston also managed a general store in the town. The Johnstons are buried in several large family plots on the west side of the main entry circle. James Johnston’s house still stands on a knoll at the south end of Half Moon Bay. Johnston Lane and Johnston Street are associated with this pioneer family.

Rufus Hatch, a native of Vermont, arrived in Half Moon Bay in 1855 and operated a sawmill on Purissima Creek and a lumberyard and carpentry shop with George Borden on Kelly Avenue. Hatch’s wife was Martha Schuyler, daughter of the first hotelkeeper in the town, James Schuyler. James Schuyler, owner of the Schuyler House hotel, is also buried in the IOOF Cemetery.

Edward Schubert established the original Half Moon Bay Brewing Company in 1873 and produced beer sold throughout San Mateo County until his brewery burned to the ground in about 1891.

Several artists are buried in the IOOF Cemetery including sculptor Sybil Easterday Paulsen and painter Galen Wolf.

Conclusion

The IOOF Cemetery in Half Moon Bay fulfilled its promise to provide burial services to its members, the distinguished pioneer families of Half Moon Bay. The IOOF also provided graves for the less fortunate. The Funeral Home books and the Cemetery Committee ledger provide a record that shows burials of nameless persons washed ashore, and of paupers, tramps, suicides and persons of Chinese, Filipino, Native American and African American descent. The IOOF Cemetery together with its adjacent sister, the Catholic Pilarcitos Cemetery, provide a durable and lasting memorial site for the men, women and children buried there and their descendants. The site is sacred to their memories.

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