Earliest dated gravestones in the Black Diamond cemetery
November 1st is All Saints’ Day, historically known as All Hallows’ Day, from which the night before became All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween.
The holiday has both Christian and Celtic roots and many of our Halloween traditions came from the Irish, Scots, and Welsh who immigrated to the U.S. during the 19th century.
In Mexican and some Latin cultures it’s known as the “day of the dead” or “day of the innocents.” Remembrance of the dearly departed is a common theme running through all the traditions and celebrations.
One of the earliest dated gravestones in the Black Diamond cemetery belongs to Rachel Williams, a 12-year old girl who died in 1880 the same year coal was discovered in Black Diamond.
She was the daughter of John and Margaret Williams, Welsh immigrants and coal miners. John was one of first workers in Black Diamond, coming from Nortonville, California.
Over the next few years most of the other residents of Nortonville also moved to Black Diamond. On another side of Rachel’s stone monument is that of her father who was born in 1841 and died on November 14, 1893.
On that day John T. Williams was working in the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company’s Mine #14. As he and his partner mined the little McKay coal vein, the large vein beneath collapsed and at the same instance the small vein fell on him.
Williams was covered in debris for 24 hours before his body was recovered. He left a widow, Margaret, with four children and was entombed beside his daughter Rachel who had died 13 years earlier.
This photo was taken by Robert Dobson while the accompanying research was provided by JoAnne Matsumura, an Issaquah historian.