Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Centerville Pioneer Cemetery

After a month of lecture series preparations - and a computer crash - I'm back, I think. My computer was backed up, of course, but it still takes a while to get everything back in order. This new computer still doesn't feel like my old friend, but I'm sure it will become more familiar with time.

You all know of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but unless you live in California, you may not be familiar with the 21 October 1868 Hayward fault earthquake. Annie (Peacock) Hibberd died in 1866, two years before this almost 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Bay area. The people she left behind erected this tombstone as a memorial to her short life, and any present-day genealogists related to the family would be happy to find this stone where it rests in the Centerville Pioneer Cemetery. I was surprised to discover, though, that seismologists would also find a use for this stone and others from the same era in this cemetery. The USGS uses tombstones to study the shaking intensities of historic earthquakes! Part of this study is available online: "Inferring Shaking Intensities at Cemeteries that Have Suffered Multiple Damaging Earthquakes." I found it very interesting reading. Genealogists see tombstones and think about the person's life; social historians see tombstones and think about the culture of the time; seismologists see tombstones and think about earthquake damage. I wonder what other information tombstones provide.

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