History Blog

Grave Matters: From Graveyards to Memorial Parks

What is the difference between a graveyard, cemetery, memorial park, and mausoleum?

For the San Diego History Center’s third and last installment of “Grave Matters: San Diego’s Relationship with Death,” we explore these differences and the history behind Mount Hope Cemetery, Greenwood Memorial Park, and the first mausoleum built by the Benbough family.

All images are from the San Diego History Center Photograph Collection. 
Further research on this topic is available at the San Diego History Center Research Library and Archives.

Grave Matters: History Lies Beneath Our Feet!

Did you know that a convicted boat thief, an American fur trader, and a former religious leader of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, are just a few of the thousands of people interred in San Diego’s earliest graveyards and cemeteries. To most travelers, and residents alike, little is known of these individual’s lives or of their final resting place. El Jardín de Reyes (King’s Garden), Calvary Cemetery, and El Campo Santo Cemetery are names of the three final resting places that these three individuals are interred. You would never know to look at them today because they are well manicured locations on public grounds. Go visit one of them and you will be surprised that there is nothing to indicate that beneath your feet are the interred remains of thousands of past residents of San Diego, whose grave markings have simply melted into the surrounding environment, obscured by the passage of time and the elements, or have been covered over to allow for the expansion of the city. Some locations have bronze plaques dedicating the location to those who are interred, but nothing describing how at one point, that was hallowed ground. This can be a bit arresting for some who have picnicked or laid upon the grass on Presidio Hill in Presidio Park to learn of the human remains that could be found beneath them.