Ocean Beach gusts reveal headstones, S.F. history 

click to enlarge Grave reminder: Delia Presby Oliver’s headstone was one of many unearthed at Ocean Beach; the graves were moved to Colma nearly a century ago. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Grave reminder: Delia Presby Oliver’s headstone was one of many unearthed at Ocean Beach; the graves were moved to Colma nearly a century ago.

Long-forgotten headstones buried on Ocean Beach nearly a century ago were uncovered recently by strong winds, a National Park Service spokeswoman said.

The story of how the headstones first ended up on the beach dates back to the early 20th century.

When The City was in the process of moving graves to Colma — known as the “City of Souls” for its large deceased population — many of the headstones were used as fill or crushed up and used for roads, Park Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet said.

At Ocean Beach, unclaimed headstones were used to armor the beach against erosion — and with the recent wind that has blown sand off the beach and onto Great Highway, a few of the headstones have become exposed, Picavet said.

The Park Service archeologist is aware of the uncovered pieces of San Francisco history, Picavet said, but staff members have decided to leave them in place.

Colma Historical Society volunteer Bunny Gillespie said that in March 1900, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to close all but two city cemeteries and relocate many graves to Colma. The transfer process began by 1914, and some stones ended up at Ocean Beach, Gillespie said.

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