Info from Dutra Mortuary (Now called Dutra-Randleman), Half Moon Bay
“Four miles south of the town of Half Moon Bay lies the little, almost obscure, cemetery of Purissima. It is situated on a hill opposite a little country school-house. Although mostly covered by grass, it does not lose its charm. In fact it adds to it because it is typical of what it is–a pioneer cemetery.
“Up to the 1860s the deceased of Purissima had been buried in Half Moon Bay or other far away parts. But on September 15, 1868 John Purcell deeded a section of his territory to the residents of Purissima for a burial ground. He decided to deed it with three clauses added to the document. One was that the cemetery be kept in the hands of a Purissima Cemetery Association; that there be no fees charged, and that there be no changes. Number Two clause sets aside a section of land 150′ by 500′ in the North-East and for the erection of a Protestant Church. Number Three reserves land for a family plot.
“The first person buried there was a little boy named Downing. Unfortunately, this was tragic for he was not dead when buried, but only in a coma. A similar example of this coma occurred shortly after the boy was buried, when a man took sick and fell in a stupor. The Downing boy’s father, realizing the possibility of his son’s having been buried unconscious, opened the grave and found that his sound had turned over!
“Other early settlers of Purissima are buried here, too. These include the family names of Britt, Richer, Doble, Locke and the Denmarks.”
(Photo: L-R: The Locke Brothers, Josiah, David & Silas.)
I was looking into the Fine Arts Colony at Montara when I read in a 1900s issue of the “Coastside Comet” newspaper that a cottage called the Van Suppe Poet & Peasant Cottage was for rent. We’re talking about nearly 100 years ago. The man who took the ad out listed conditions: if you wanted to rent the Van Suppe Poet & Peasant Cottage in Montara you had to be an artist.
The contact person in the ad was Chauncey McGovern.
I knew who Chauncey was–I had come across the locally famous handwriting expert’s name while researching the unsolved murder of wealthy Sarah Coburn in the tiny village of Pescadero in 1919.
The 19th century Austrian composer Franz Von Suppe died in the late 1890s.
I discovered that the Von Suppe cottage still stood and pianist/free lance writer Mikie Benedict lived there. She had inherited the historical home from Howard Gilligan, a unique artist who made Montara his home.
Above: Harold Gilligan self-portrait, courtesy Mikie Benedict.
(Photo: Montara’s Mikie Benedict visited Greece in the summer of 2006.)
After the exchange of a couple of emails, Mikie Benedict reminded me that I had written a piece about the historic cottage in Montara where the pianist still lives. That was in the 1990s. Mikie is the mother of Anna [please read post below]–Anna was five-years-old in 1973, the year she disappeared from her home just south of rural Half Moon Bay. She has never been heard from again.
If alive, today Anna would be 40-years-old. Mikie admits that every minute since Anna vanished, since that cruel day in 1973, every angle has been looked at– and looked at again and again.
“I still have no answers,” Mikie said.
What keeps you looking, I asked Mikie.
“…I’m sure many people think I’m crazy to go on looking for her after 34 and-a-half years. However, when a family friend timidly suggested trying some search tactics through the Internet (which of course was not available when Anna disappeared in 1973), I could hardly say, ‘No,’ as difficult as it was to drag out all that again.”
Mikie, an accomplished pianist, told me that while doing some general research, she was excited to learn that the Internet was responsible for six recent reunions in San Mateo County, with now grown-children seeking their birth parents. Why couldn’t it work for me? she wondered.
It’s an old case, and without leads it had gone cold, but now Mikie says the county has reopened it.