On July 31, 1906, Aaron Rice (an African American who was one of the first freed slaves to vote in Napa, California) was interred in the Contra Costa County’s Potter’s Field of Alhambra Cemetery, where they buried the impoverished, unclaimed, and discriminated. His gravesite borders the more prominent section of the cemetery where William and Louisa Rice (his former slave owners) are also buried. Our surprise in finding Aaron’s headstone (being one of only four to have survived) and the uncovering of his remarkable story has resulted in his becoming very special to us. However, it has left us with a couple of questions, which we have so far been unable to answer. 1) Who paid for his headstone? 2) What does the phrase “The Faithful” refer too?
For the enslaved American, census data did not include them until after slavery was abolished. Therefore, to tell Aaron’s story we had to rely on information from authored books, various organizations, a written oral account, along with whatever official documents could be found, in order to piece together Aaron’s life prior to 1860.