Elizabeth--I was wondering about the Lake Merritt thing; I always thought it was a pretty shallow lake.
If you want to obtain more details about your Hershel, I'd strongly recommend that you order a copy of his death certificate.It costs $8.00, and my experience with ordering death certificates from less populated counties in CA is that I receive them within two weeks (L.A. Co. takes longer).The address is:San Joaquin County Recorder, P.O. Box 1968, Stockton, CA95201.Just write a letter of a couple sentences asking for a copy of his death certificate, listing his name and date of death (plus maybe date of birth), with your address somewhere on it, and enclose a check for $8.00.Some states have complicated requirements for obtaining certificates, but CA isn't one of them.You'll probably find lots of useful info on the certificate; I've made great progress on my research using them--name of informant, cemetery info, last address, etc., can be really helpful.
Also, if you're interested in following the family branch of the Alameda county fellow (I'm assuming he's the one who died of kidney failure), you might want to order his certif. as well.Since three of his siblings died in Alameda Co. in recent years, there are probably various of their children still in the area.Please e-mail me privately if you have a problem finding the names of the others (not all were men).The beauty of the CA Death Index at rootsweb.com is that one can search it by filling in only ONE field; i.e., the field for the name of the person being searched for can be left BLANK altogether.I have found descendants of SO many collateral lines whose names I had no clue about, just by using this database.