Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2019

Dr.Henry A. DuBois Builds Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery

By Marilyn L. Geary · July 24, 2017

Henry A. DuBois as Union officer <span>&copy; Marin History Museum </span>

Henry A. DuBois as Union officer


San Rafael looking Northeast by Muybridge, c.1870s <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Room </span>

An early San Rafael village resident, Dr. Henry Augustus DuBois, Jr. settled in San Rafael in 1869 after serving as a surgeon in the Civil War and in the Indian Wars of New Mexico.

Born to a wealthy East Coast family, Yale-educated Dr. DuBois was a great-grandson of John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and a president of the Continental Congress. In his memoirs, William Kent described DuBois as "a New Englander and a straight-laced and proper citizen. He was educated, skillful and much esteemed.”

Chickahominy Fever

Dr. DuBois may have been lured to San Rafael by its healthy climate. In the California Medical Society’s journal, Dr. DuBois recommended San Rafael as ideal for a “sanitarium for chronic diseases.” During the Civil War, DuBois had contracted Chickahominy fever, a camp fever with symptoms of typhoid and malaria named for the mosquito-ridden swamps of the Chickahominy River in Virginia. 

The 1870 Census shows Dr. DuBois residing with 40-year-old Dr. Alfred Taliaferro, the first physician to practice in Marin. They lived in San Rafael Village with a 23-year old Chinese servant named Ah Poy. Dr. DuBois subsequently purchased land west of San Rafael at the end of today’s Fifth Street in what was called Forbes Valley. His land was far removed from town and included a section of Red Hill.

Burials Prohibited

When Dr. DuBois arrived in San Rafael, the town was growing fast, and the cemetery at St. Paul’s Episcopal Churchyard, Fourth and E Streets, could not keep up. 

In 1876, two years after San Rafael incorporated, town trustee Dr. Taliaferro proposed and got passed an ordinance prohibiting burials within San Rafael’s town limits. On Sept. 14, 1876, the Marin County Journal reported on a town meeting held to determine where to locate a new cemetery: “Nearly all the money and land kings were present.”

Among several bids, Dr. DuBois offered a portion of his ranch for $13,000. The town trustees took no action, and the law to prohibit burials in town limits was rescinded. It was deemed "better to double up in the old yard than keep the dead above ground.”

A Committee of One

Not one to dawdle, by June 1878 Dr. DuBois had 40 men working on 113 acres of his land to build the new cemetery. He later stated, “I organized myself a committee of one.” He put enormous funds and energies into the venture, planting myrtle and ivy by the wagonload, laying out miles of roadways, setting out 2,000 trees and thousands of flowers.

To read more about Dr. DuBois, go to http://bit.ly/2gXJ3Ip

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