Now they were preparing to leave for his funeral. It was to be held at Elks Hall at Second and D, and they proceeded to this place. He accompanied them in spirit as they got into the buggies, crossed Laurel Street, and headed downtown, a route he had taken many times when he went to the wharf to greet people.
The mourners arrived at the Elks building shortly before the 2:00 p.m. service. A San Diego Union article on January 10, 1909, describes his funeral, saying: “Upon an eminence which commands a view of the city which was his creation the mortal remains of Father Alonzo Erastus Horton were laid to rest yesterday afternoon, after a demonstration of sorrow and respect in which the whole city had participated.”
As the speeches concluded, Horton looked out the window of the Elks Club and saw before him the real fruits of his labors. Outside, people were gathered to say good-bye to him, and he had to face what was happening. Life in the city would now go on without him. People assembled to leave for Mount Hope, and he decided to follow.
The January 10, 1909, San Diego Union article continues: “An immense throng had gathered in the street outside the hallway by the time the service was concluded, all standing in reverent silence as the members of the fraternities emerged and formed a long double line from the entrance to the hearse. Through this line was borne the body, preceded by the officers of the lodge and the honorary pallbearers. These, all intimate friends of Father Horton and the leading citizens of San Diego, were George W. Marston, C. S. Hamilton, U. S. Grant, Jr., Fred Hamilton, Charles Hamilton, M. A. Luce and D. C. Reed. Serving as active pallbearers and carrying the casket were F. S. Banks, R. V. Dodge, Eugene Daney, Major H. G. Gwyn, Ernest E. White and Simon Levi.
“After the mourning relatives, who were the last to leave the hall, had taken their seats in the carriages, the line began its progress through the hushed streets. Flags at half-mast fluttered from hundreds of buildings, including all public institutions and schools; many business houses had closed for the ‘quiet hour,’ and almost a Sabbath calm pervaded the streets.…
“Solemnly, quietly and impressively the procession moved, through the center of the city, proceeding east on D street to Fifth, south on Fifth to H, east on H to Tenth.
“At this point the procession disbanded, the pallbearers, officers of the lodge and many of the members taking carriages to Mount Hope cemetery.
“Here, under a canvas canopy erected over the Horton burial plot, were the brief words of the Elks’ commitment service spoken, and within a few moments the carriages were returning to the city.”
Well, that was that, he thought. The day he had always pondered in the back of his mind had arrived. Here he was at Mount Hope, about to be put to rest next to his parents and Sarah. As he watched Lydia leave and go back to the city, he was torn, for he wasn’t ready to go on to the next life.
He stood apart from the funeral apparatus and viewed the tombstone he had erected. It was a large tombstone, fitting for a man who had expended so much energy to found the city. On it he had placed the names of his deceased wife, Sarah Babe, and his parents, Erastus and Tryphena Horton.
He thought back to the formation of the cemetery. In 1869, when he was selling lots in earnest, people came to him asking where their relatives might be buried. A cemetery would be started above Old Town the following year, but it was too far away for people in New Town. Old Town was a Catholic community, and Protestants were streaming into New Town and forming churches. He had also heard that several people were very sick and might be in need of burial shortly.
In October 1869, a meeting was held to discuss the opening of a public cemetery, and for sanitary reasons, it was sited out here. By December, there were four burials at the cemetery. Two years later, the board of trustees decided to lay off ten acres to avoid confusion in the digging of graves, and a map was approved to facilitate the process. He recalled that burials picked up at a tremendous pace once the boom of the late 1880s had started.
The cemetery was smaller now than it would be later, for several groups came forward who received permission to bury their dead separately. The Odd Fellows and Masons each had large, separate sections, and Civil War veterans belonging to the Grand Army of the Republic developed a smaller section. Years later these separate cemeteries would be turned over to Mount Hope to operate.
Horton recalled purchasing his lots at Mount Hope. The old cemetery office was sited adjacent to this lot and was still there now. The location of his lot was easy to remember. It was in Division 1, Section 1. His mother Tryphena Burleigh Horton died on March 5, 1873, and he had purchased the lots earlier in that month, anticipating her death.
His wife Sarah was also buried here. Twenty years ago, she had been visiting her niece in Washington. A San Diego Union article of May 18, 1889, stated in part: “Mrs. Horton was out driving in a hansom with Mrs. E. G. Haight, of San Diego, and just came from the Soldiers’ Home. When descending the hill near Calumet place, the residence of Mrs. General Logan, some of the harness gave way and the horse bounded forward at full speed. Both ladies were thrown out. Mrs. Horton fell on her breast and head. Four of her ribs were broken, besides sustaining other internal injuries. She was immediately taken to the nearest residence where she died in about half an hour. Mrs. Haight was somewhat stunned by the fall, but her injuries are not serious.” In this way, his wonderful marriage of many years had ended.