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Bierce Places

BEQUEATH v.t. To generously give to another that which can no longer be denied to somebody

Ambrose Bierce Street / Ambrose Bierce House / Ambrose Bierce Historical Marker / Ambrose Bierce Grave Marker

Despite being largely unknown even in his literary home of San Francisco, Ambrose Bierce has managed to etch out physical places of immortality.

Ambrose Bierce Street

One of the finest independent bookstores in the nation, City Lights Books of San Francisco was able to work with the city government in 1988 to name a dozen side streets and cul-de-sacs after San Francisco literary notables in appropriate areas of the city. Among the honored was Ambrose Bierce. Alric Street, a tiny alley behind the old San Francisco Examiner building, was changed to Ambrose Bierce Street. It is located just south of Market Street, by Third.

As you can see from the photographs, it isn't the greatest stretch of real estate in the world, and from a cursory tour of the area, it seems to be regularly populated by those with no fixed address.

For more information on the street and the other authors honored, see Names of 12 San Francisco Streets Changed To Honor Authors & Artists (City Lights Books, San Francisco: 1988).

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.

The sign at the end of the street.

A view from one end of the street to the other.

A long view of the same.

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Ambrose Bierce House

To escape the fogs that irritated his asthma, Bierce set up house in the Nappa Valley. His St. Helena house is his only remaining extant home. It has been turned into a bed & breakfast for the surrounding wine country.

The Ambrose Bierce House is an attractive two-story B&B in the heart of St. Helena in Route 21. All the rooms in the house are named for Bierce and Nappa Valley luminaries, from the Ambrose Bierce Suite (the stateroom) to the Eadweard Muybridge Room (San Francisco luminary who did ground breaking work on kinetics). The house is somewhat limited in its Bierce memorabilia, the most obvious of which being some framed Examiner pages in the sitting room.

The House is on the upscale side of things (prices start at over $200 a night in-season), but the accouterments are well worth it. For the price, the innkeepers provide a wine and cheese repast at 5, help and suggestions for dinner reservations, and an absolutely heavenly breakfast. The House is also conveniently located in the center of wine country, with several wineries within walking distance.

There are stories of hauntings that have passed down from owner to owner. Given Bierce's life and times, this is not an unlikely occurrence, although some ghost lore posits that you only haunt the place you die. Skeptical humanist that I am, I did have some grey thing float through my room at two in the morning.

For more information, please visit the Ambrose Bierce House Web site.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.

The exterior of the house. All guest rooms are on the second floor.

The exterior from the street.

From the driveway leading to the parking area.

The Eadweard Muybridge Room.

The view into the Ambrose Bierce Suite.

Framed Examiner article in the sitting room.

The common area sitting room.

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Ambrose Bierce Historical Marker

Ambrose Bierce's birthplace has finally received some recognition, but not without controversy.

The Ohio Bicentennial Commission was going to place markers at the birthplaces of famous authors born in Ohio. Bierce was included in the number to be honored, but evidence surfaced that indicated Bierce may not have been born near Horse Creek Cave in Meigs County as previously thought.

Historian Margaret Parker made a thorough and interesting investigation into the unexpected mystery that surrounded one of the few bits of biographic data about Bierce's early life that seemed definitive. Ulitmately, she found corroberating data that Bierce's birthplace was indeed Meigs County. The whole story can be found on Don's site.

After some delays, the marker was dedicated on November 6, 2003 at Eastern District High School on Ohio Route 7 (approximately 10 miles from the assumed birthplace).

The circumstance of the birthplace marker brought to light the only other Bierce marker in Ohio. A photo of Bierce and marker reside in the Chester County Courthouse, Ohio's oldest standing courthouse building.

In addition to the new marker, plans are in the works for an Ambrose Beirce Society in Meigs County, so its most famous literary son will finally get his hometown due.

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The Bierce marker -- Very large image (Photo by Billi Bentley).

The Chester County Courthouse, home to the only other Bierce marker in Ohio.

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Ambrose Bierce Grave Marker

The final resting place of Ambrose Bierce may be a mystery never solved, but he now at least has a grave.

James Lienert believes he has found Bierce's last resting place, and has put a memorial to that effect. Based on evidence researched by Don Chuy of a gringo being executed as a spy in Sierra Mojada during the Revolution -- as well as corroborating evidence from locals -- Lienert erected a grave marker at his own expense in the local graveyard. The marker was dedicated on August 17, 2004.

The translation reads:

Very trustworthy witnesses suppose
that here lie the remains of
1842 Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce 1914
a famous American writer and journalist who
was executed and buried at this place

Whether or not it is Bierce's actual resting place, it is an inspiring tribute by a Bierce devote' to give some permanence to Bierce's last resting place and the long local folklore of Bierce in Mexico.

For more detailed information, please see the story on Don's site.

Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

The Bierce grave marker.

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