Cambria, California is a popular stopping point for tourists visiting Hearst Castle with many art galleries, antique stores and restaurants nestled in a beautiful outdoor setting. Yet along with this historic town center, there is a special attraction few people ever get to see – Cambria Cemetery. Wander around here long enough and some interesting sociological observations can be found.
The first photo shows the grave of The Reverend Henry C. Thomson, D.D., born in 1844, dying in 1928, listed with his daughter Amy Hatch Thompson. Buried to the left of the Reverend (with her stone hiding behind some plant leaves) is his loving wife, Laura M. Thomson, born in 1854, dying in 1919. However, a closer inspection of the second photo reveals something of a “Hmm….” factor.
Anna Ladd was also married to Reverend Thompson and was 42 years old at the time of her death (April 17, 1895)*. Of course it was quite common in the 19th century for men to marry two or three times due to high childbirth mortality rates or fevers, but this is not what gives the site double-take status. Here is what does.
Anna is the first wife, dying in 1895 while Laura is the second, passing in 1919. The photo shows the two wives buried next to each other but after looking closely at the dates of death, Reverend Thompson died in 1928; almost 10 years after his second wife Laura. Interestingly enough, he’s buried alongside of Laura – not his first wife, Anna.
Thus, it would appear that Cambria Cemetery seemingly provides evidence that a “First Wives’ Club” existed even in the 19th century.