Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Photo Headstones: A Genealogical Treasure

During previous visits to the Santa Maria Cemetery in Santa Maria, I’ve noticed that a few of the headstones display photos of the deceased. This is not uncommon, of course, as photo headstones are found in cemeteries everywhere.

However, on a recent visit, I discovered that the Santa Maria Cemetery has an entire section of these photo headstones. What a genealogical treasure!

Here's an example of one of the photo stones in this section:

Headstone of Manuel and Belvina Madruga.

Detail of photos and dates on Madruga Headstone.

Photo of Manuel F. Madruga found on headstone.

Photo of Belvina G. Madruga found on headstone.

I would be absolutely thrilled to find such a gem of a headstone for any of my ancestors!


Manuel Felipe Madruga was born in 1871/72 in Poco, Azores, Portugal. He emigrated to the United States in approximately 1888, and was naturalized as a citizen on May 12, 1902, in San Luis Obispo, California. He lived in Nipomo and worked as a rancher in San Luis Obispo County. Manuel died in 1922.

Belvina Gularte Madruga was born on September 14, 1881, in California. She died on November 16, 1940 in Santa Barbara County, California. Belvina must have remarried after Manuel died because she is listed as Belvina Gularte Lewis in the Cemetery's records.

Manuel and Belvina were married in abt. 1900, and had at least five children.


California Department of Health Services. “California Death Index, 1940-1997.” Database. Ancestry.com,
http://www.ancestry.com/ : 2008.

California. San Luis Obispo County. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
http://www.ancestry.com/ : 2008. From National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 104.

California. San Luis Obispo County. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
http://www.ancestry.com/ : 2008. From National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 144.

Madruga Headstone Photos, Photographed by Elizabeth O’Neal, November 29, 2008. Privately held by Elizabeth O’Neal, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Santa Barbara Co., California. 2008.

Manuel Madruga Passport Application. U.S. Passport Applications, January 2, 1906-March 31, 1925. Digital Images. Ancestry.com.
http://www.ancestry.com/ : 2008. From General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

"Santa Maria Cemetery District, 1872-2001." Database. Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society.
http://www.cagenweb.com/santabarbara/sbcgs/Santa_Maria_Cemetery/ : 2008.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal


  1. How cool to have a whole section with photos!

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    Please go to http://graveyardsofnorthernarizona.blogspot.com/ for more information!

  3. we have a web page you may be intrested in http://www.headstonesgenealogy.com Like your web page

  4. What a beautiful monument and interesting web post. I'm a little bit fascinated by headstones and monuments myself. I know that Legacy has been in business for the better part of a century and they do great work.