MS 176 Hillcrest-Mission Hills Improvement Association Calvary Cemetery / Pioneer Park Collection

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Hillcrest-Mission Hills Improvement Association.
Hillcrest-Mission Hills Improvement Association Calvary Cemetery / Pioneer Park Collection
MS 176
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1969-1970
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
This collection contains information on the history and inhabitants of Calvary Cemetery and its transformation into Pioneer Park, compiled by the Hillcrest-Mission Hills Improvement Association.

Preferred Citation

Hillcrest-Mission Hills Improvement Association Calvary Cemetery / Pioneer Park Collection, MS 176, San Diego History Center Document Archives, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

In 1874, the city of San Diego purchased land with the intended purpose of creating a cemetery, half of which to be designated for a Catholic cemetery and half for a Protestant cemetery. The Protestant half was never utilized, while the first Catholic burial took place in 1875. Burials took place at a regular rate up until 1919 when the Holy Cross Cemetery was opened and became the more popular location. Without much church or city attention, the cemetery fell into disrepair. In 1931 the idea of turning the place into a park was floated and the debate began between preserving the cemetery and protecting those entombed, and re-developing the cemetery and protecting the neighborhood from the eyesore the cemetery had become.

In 1938 the city of San Diego sponsored a rehabilitation project to restore the cemetery. They petitioned and won federal aid for the project in the form of WPA funds and workers. In 1939 the cemetery was rededicated and a new marker was unveiled dedicating the site to San Diego pioneers and officially naming the place Calvary Cemetery (it was previously referred to as the new Catholic cemetery, until 1919, and then the old Catholic cemetery).

A caretaker was employed by the city from 1941 to 1949, but the job proved too large and the cemetery slowly began to fall back into disrepair. The last burial took place in 1960, and in 1961 the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department submitted a request for a development project to be scheduled for 1966-1967 to transform the site into a park. This first official project was deferred as other projects were considered more urgent. It was at this point that the Hillcrest-Mission Hills Improvement Association became actively involved with the project.

The Association formed to advise the City of San Diego with regard to the retention of the monuments and headstones within the park at Calvary Cemetery. In the two years that followed (1969-1970) debate continued between city officials, association members, and the community at large as to the development plan for the transformation. The Improvement Association researched the history of the cemetery as well as the current state of the headstones and the stories of those mentioned on the headstones. The research was very influential towards the eventual compromise that led to the final development plan for the park. In the end some headstones were restored and left in the park, others were moved within the park to a designated area and still others were removed to Mount Hope Cemetery or to city storage.

The park itself was officially dedicated as Pioneer Park in 1977.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains information on the history and inhabitants of Calvary Cemetery and its transformation into Pioneer Park, compiled by the Hillcrest-Mission Hills Improvement Association. This includes newspaper and magazine articles, correspondence and records compiled by the Association during official discussions of whether to convert the cemetery into a park, and plans, blueprints, and official bids from contractors. Additional research includes headstone counts, lot maps, and copies from mortuary records, as well as biographical reports written by college students about the individuals on certain headstones.

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This collection is arranged in two series:

Series I: Calvary Cemetery History;

Series II: Pioneer Park Development.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection January 18, 2017

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Processing Information

Collection processed by M. Johnson in June 2009 and Samantha Mills in January 2017.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Calvary Cemetery (San Diego, Calif.).
  • Catholic Cemetery..
  • Johnson, Saum & Noble Mortuary.
  • Pioneer Park (San Diego, Calif.).
  • San Diego County (Calif.). Parks and Recreation Dept..

Geographic Name(s)

  • Mission Hills (San Diego, Calif.)
  • San Diego (Calif.)


  • Cemeteries — California — San Diego

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

There are a few original letters, the original city contract plan and bid packet. Most of the collection contains photocopies on acid-free paper.

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Research reports on a few of the deceased are included in the collection. The reports were done by Sister McShane’s History 188 class and the University of San Diego in Spring of 1970.

Reports were originally grouped by student, but the reports have been deconstructed and placed in alphabetical order by name of deceased. The inventory file contains a complete list of students and who they researched, as well as copies of their title pages and bibliographies, in case any discrepancies arise in footnote citations within the individual reports.


Loretto Agundes

Alvarado O. De Alvarado (Rudecinda Osuna De Alvarado)

Matilda (Kerren) Anderson)

John Angel

Maria De Arenas

Luz (Maria de la Luz Osuna) Arguello

Rev. Henry J. Baert

Constranza Barba

Jeremiah (Jerry) Barrett

Mary Jane Barry

Fortunato Bernardini

Fannie Bouley Berrie

Agnes Bogan

Leo P. Bogan

Enriqueta C. Boullet

Anna Catherine Bouvier

Josephine Bovero

Peter S. Brajkovich

Maria Brizzolari

Claudia Losa Brown

Marco Bruschi

Frank Cabral

Manuel Cabral

Juan Camacho

James Carr

Enrique Carrillo

Juana Castillo

Daniel Cavanaugh

James Clark

John Clinton

Mary H. Colton

Harriet (Vandergrift) Connors

Paul S. Connors

Felicita Contreres

Jose Maria Contreres

John C. Conway

José Cota

Mrs. Rufina Cota

Cave Couts

Cave Johnson Couts Jr.

Refugio A. Couts

Charles J. Crammer

Theodore Cummings

Mary Cusick

Michel Daney

Louisa Delfino

Juan Delgado

Nicola Delia

Joseph Dini

John Donnelly

Albert Dorval

John Benjamin Dorval

Juan Drew

Mary T. Eagan

Thomas Eagan

Antonio(a) Erro

Bernardo Ervenelberg

Jeremiah Feeley

Col. Manuel Ferrer

Rosario Ferrer

William C. Flint

Angelina Ghio

Michael Ghio

Stephen Ghio

Patrick Glenn

Mary J. Golden

Tiodoro Golio

Francisca Gonzales

Harry Gottesburen

William Charles Greenleaf

James Richard Hanrahan

William T. Hanrahan Garrett

Joseph Heneberry

August Hennequin

Mary Herlihy

Gertrudis Arguello Hubbard

William Hume

Gladys Gooch Irwin

August Jaussard

Catherine Journey

Bridget Kelly

Luke Kelly

James Kerran

John W. Kerren

Mary Jane Kerren

William M. Kerren

James Kincade

Mrs. James Grennan Kincade

Peter Koster

Paul Mere Laderoot

Rev. Joseph M. LeCerf

Dolores Vidal (Marron) de Lamas

Louis Lopez

Mary Jesus Machado

Rose Kenniston Manasse

Thomas Manley

Fred Edgar Manning

Bertha Markinka

Timothy McCarthy

Isabella H. McCann (McGann)

Vina McGrisken

James McMorrow

John McMorrow

Maria McMorrow

John (Jeremiah) McNamara

Katherine Medeiros

Senovia Melendres (Meledrez)

Frederick Mohr

Juana M. Montes

Elvira De Montijo

Julia F. Morgan

Dorcas Cott Moss

John Mosto

Francis D. Murtha

Anna Louise Nerney

Mary Elizabeth Nerney

Margareta Agness Nevius

Thomas Walter O’Brien

Maria de Ochoa

Andrew P. O’Connor

Carlos D. Olvera

Peter O’Malley

John P. O’Neill

Lorenza O’Neill

Rev. Luciano Osuna

Hipolito Pardo

Dorinda Poderta

Katherine (Catherine) Purcell

Peter Ricard

Jesusita Romero

Santana Romero

Mary W. Rooney

Victoria Ruhlofs

Daniel Sallay

Laura Savin

Thomas Scally

Lily Bell Schrader

James J. Serrano

John Serrano

Luis A. Serrano

Victoriane Saucede

Michael Serrano

William Brayant Spohn

Serafina Stewart Serrano

Angelo Joseph Smith

James Stewart

Dr. Thomas Kerrins Smith

Henry W. Spencer

Frank Javial Stewart

Frank Stewart

J. B. Stewart

J. M. Stewart

John C. (Jack) Stewart

Maggie Stewart

Mary J. E. Stewart

John, Nellie, Clara Summers

Carlo Tonini

Sire Tonini

Michael J. Tracy

Maria de Verdusco

Francis P. Walsh

Mary E. Wallace

Ellen D. Warnock

Wilhemine (Mary Ann) and Ida Flora Winter

Wyan E. Woolery

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Collection Inventory

 Series I: Calvary Cemetery History

Johnson, Saum and Knobel Mortuary: Burial Reports, 1869-1888 1:1
Johnson, Saum and Knobel Mortuary: Lot Sales, 1894-1915 1:2
USD Student Research: Biographies of Deceased A-C, 1970 1:3
USD Student Research: Biographies of Deceased D-K, 1970 1:4
USD Student Research: Biographies of Deceased L-P, 1970 1:5
USD Student Research: Biographies of Deceased R-W, 1970 1:6
HMHIA Research: Lists of headstones prior to park construction, 1970


Numbered list of headstones; headstones listed by numbered sections, children’s section, and priest’s plot; notes on how survey was conducted; and maps of headstones and burial sites (maps in Oversize Collections D8).

HMHIA Research: Lists of significant headstones, 1970 1:8

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 Series II: Pioneer Park Development

HMHIA: Records and Correspondence, 1969-1970 1:9
Correspondence: Residents and Homeowners, 1969-1970 1:10
Suggested Plans: Headstone Removal and Park Construction, 1969-1970

Scope and Contents:

Some sketches in Oversize Collections D8.

City Contract, Blueprint, and Bid Packet, 1969-1970 1:12
Pioneer Park Dedication Materials, 1977

Scope and Contents:

Event poster in Oversize Collections D8.

Miscellaneous Articles, 1931-1970 1:14

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Return to Archival Collections.