It was so special. Edith was the first daughter and second-born child in the Cook family, who was prominent in San Francisco in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.
There, in , he married Martha Bradley, whose family lineage traces back to the earliest Virginia settlers. The couple had seven children and moved to San Francisco years after the Scooffy family. Together, Matthew and Horatio Cook established the family business, M. Cook Belting. The company remained in existence until the s, when it merged with Hoffmeyer Belting and Supply Co.
The new business was then bought by San Diego Rubber Co. Cook has eight children, 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Jelmer [Eerkens] has got me back into the early s. That really makes me feel good.
The homeowner, Ericka Karner, said the casket was discovered by workers remodeling the home while she and her family stayed with relatives in Idaho. The couple have two daughters, but the children were sleeping or not where the steps were heard in both cases, she said. Each time, the contractors walked through the house looking for a child — possibly a wayward kid who had run into the house from a park across the street — and both times, the contractors found nothing, Karner said.
According to historians, when San Francisco was in its infancy, residents and businesses coalesced around San Francisco Bay.
The dead were buried in what is now the financial district. But then came the Gold Rush of , which flooded the city with new residents, new illnesses and death.
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Bodies in the financial district were exhumed and relocated west, closer to the ocean, to make way for the mass migration. By the late s, there were dozens of cemeteries in San Francisco, and most were full. Officials and developers deemed the burial grounds to be more valuable to the living, and they launched a decades-long campaign to evict the dead. City crews and cemetery workers hauled hundreds of thousands of corpses south to what is now Colma.
Today, the city has about 1, living residents and more than 1. The removal contractors placed string lines in an east-west orientation, spaced where experience told them the most graves would be intersected. Experts moved along those string lines, probing with hardened brass rods at set intervals. They could literally predict by feel and experience whether there was a casket, a collapsed grave, ashes or no grave at all below.
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Workers dug only where they marked and as deep as they marked. Everything was done by hand. Her original casket was put inside a slightly larger cherry wood-paneled coffin with handles on each side and two bouquets of white flowers on top. It was infectious. A second memorial service for the girl is scheduled for 11 a.
June 10 at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma. Already a subscriber? Thank you for your support. If you are not, please consider subscribing today. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks. For breaking California news, follow JosephSerna on Twitter.
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About Us. Brand Publishing. The team had been working to identify the girl since her body was discovered last May during a home remodeling project near Lone Mountain.
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Once it concluded that Edith was probably the girl, the team tracked down living relatives for a DNA sample to verify their finding. Her skin and hair, as well as her burial flowers, were well preserved. She was one of about 30, people with graves at the old Odd Fellows Cemetery. Her coffin was found when workers remodeling a home smacked it with a shovel. Garden of Innocence stepped up to help Karner respectfully dispose of the remains.
About people attended the service. Another memorial service is scheduled for June 10 at the burial site to recognize her newfound identity.
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Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: kalexander sfchronicle. The coffin of a little girl, found buried beneath a San Francisco home. Photo: Courtesy Of Elissa Davey. Caption Close. Image 1 of