The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1982, Volume 28, Number 4
Thomas Scharf, Managing Editor

By Laurie Bissell
San Diego History Center Staff Member

Images from the article

To the right, in a darkened room, sat the bereaved family and close friends of the deceased. “The Land O’the Leal,” his favorite song, played as his fraternal brothers, dressed in mourning garb, a white and purple badge on the arm, each marched around the casket of Alonzo E. Horton, depositing sprigs of amaranth and ivy (symbols of immortality and brotherly love), while whispering “Peace be with you.” Already eight thousand people had come to bid this man, who founded modern San Diego, farewell.

The casket passed through a double line of Masons and Elks to the hearse. The mourning relatives stepped into the waiting carriages, and the long funeral procession began. Flags hung at half-mast. Businesses closed, and people lined the streets. The San Diego Union reported that:

The men were bareheaded, the women touched with emotion, the children subdued. All sounds of the busy Saturday afternoon rush were stopped—the “tramp, tramp” of his marching brethren was the only music heard and it was a fitting requiem.

So was the burial of Alonzo E. Horton in 1909, ending at the family plot at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Everyone dies. Some leave in great fanfare, while others may not even be mentioned in the obituary section of their local newspaper. Every death has a life behind it, a story, a history. Somehow, visiting a grave, while not telling a story, produces a feeling. You can feel history. Seeing the grave, the actual resting place of the dead, makes the life real and not just a story.

In the case of cemeteries, they are all different, all with a personality of their own. This may be just a matter of who is buried in a particular cemetery, or how they were buried. What creates a cemetery’s personality is uncertain, but it is there.

The following is a potpourri of information about various cemeteries in San Diego County. It begins with early burials in the city proper of San Diego, then continues up the coast to Oceanside, east to Julian, and back to San Diego.

San Diego County burial locations are too numerous to include more than a select few. Many cemeteries were merely plots on a family’s ranch. Others fell to disuse, soon to be built over and forgotten. Included at the end of this article is a list of some of the other San Diego cemeteries not included in the text.

Presidio of San Diego

Of the three hundred men who set out to colonize Upper California in 1769—as well as to found San Diego—more than one-third died, mainly of scurvy and dysentery. Several men died in San Diego prior to the arrival of Father Junípero Serra and were buried at Dead Man’s Point near their anchored ships.

On July 1, 1769, soon after the arrival of Serra, burials began in consecrated ground on Presidio Hill. Over sixty men were buried in “El Jardin Del Rey” (The King’s Garden) in the following few months. Father Serra recorded the burials, but in an Indian raid in 1775 the record book burned. Not able to remember all the names of the deceased, Serra settled with “asking God our Lord that the names of all may be written in heaven . . .”1 Between 1882 and 1887, fill dirt needed for work on the Derby Dike came from The King’s Garden. The dirt, filled with burial remains, was dumped in the San Diego River.2

Even though people began moving off Presidio Hill and settled in Old Town, burials still took place within the Presidio walls. These burials included early settlers as well as Mission Indians. The last recorded burial in this location was Henry Delano Fitch who died in 1849, the same year as the first burial at El Campo Santo in Old Town. Fitch’s coffin lid, unearthed in an excavation, was outlined with brass nails, two hearts, and the letters “H.D.F.”3 Burials have also been found at the bottom of Presidio Hill.

Although it was no longer used by Europeans, the Indians continued burying their dead on Presidio Hill through the 1870s.

El Campo Santo

San Diego’s second oldest cemetery, El Campo Santo, dates back to 1849 with the burial of Juan Adams. Burials continued through 1880, consisting of early San Diegans from varied backgrounds.

Antonio Garra, executed for murder in 1852, stated as he stood by his open grave in the cemetery, “Gentlemen, I ask your pardon for all my offenses and give mine in return,” then kissed a crucifix, and met his fate.4

Other executed men buried at El Campo Santo include two men held responsible for an Indian raid on Warner’s Ranch. One pleaded guilty. The other professed his innocence. Santiago “Yankee Jim” Robinson was executed after being tried for stealing a boat, but was convicted of stealing a horse, due to technicalities.

Distinguished members of Old San Diego rest in the Catholic Cemetery (as El Campo Santo also was known) as well. Among these were Don Miguel de Pedrorena, educated in Madrid and Oxford, and Juan Maria Osuna, the first alcalde of San Diego, as well as the Bandini family, the Estudillos, and the Aguierres.

The cemetery deteriorated over the years. In 1933, the San Diego Historical Society restored El Campo Santo as accurately as possible based on an early photograph and early descriptions. They built an adobe wall, reset markers, rebuilt paling enclosures, and placed a plain white cross in the center of the plot.5

What remains today? Important burials, but only one original marker (that of Edward L. Greene), broken iron and wooden paling enclosures, and six markers left from the restoration. However, huge olive trees with fingered bases, abundant cacti bordering the adobe wall, and old pregnant looking palms create a mood that overshadows the lack of grave markers. Besides this Catholic Cemetery, early San Diegans buried their dead in individual plots on private land or in other cemeteries.

Protestant Cemetery

Alcalde Joshua H. Bean deeded land to Adolphis Savin on February 18, 1850. Savin sold it to Juan Bandini and William Heath Davis a month later.6 Soon after San Diego Protestants began to bury their dead there.

As San Diego’s population moved away from Old Town, relatives of those buried on this land in “Protestant Cemetery” began to transfer their dead to other cemeteries.

The weeds grew high covering the rotting wooden grave markers that remained. Memory of Protestant Cemetery faded. Over a period of time, the land served as a dog pound, a goat farm, and a trash dump. In 1947, the unearthing of one of the skeletons brought to light the cemetery’s presence.

Four gravesites remained, identified as Tommie Whaley (infant son of  Thomas Whaley), Jack Hinton, Frank Ames, and Francis Steele.

A man with plans to develop a trailer park on the land received permission to reinter the remains of the four graves to Mount Hope Cemetery. Inappropriately, Ames and Stelle ended up in Potter’s Field, the area in Mount Hope reserved for indigents. Frank Ames, a very successful businessman in early San Diego, columnist for the San Diego Herald, and public official, hardly deserved burial in Potter’s Field. His gravemarker read:

“If honest worth a place in
Heaven may find 
Poor Frank left not without
his passport signed”7

Francis Steele left a considerable estate at his death, but he too ended up in Potter’s Field. The land where Protestant Cemetery stood remained in private hands through the 1960s when the State obtained the land while building Interstate 5.

Old Jewish Cemetery & Home of Peace

The first Jew in San Diego, Louis Rose, arrived in 1850. Immediately he began to purchase land, eventually developing “Roseville.” Soon more Jews settled in San Diego. By 1861, they organized Adath Joshurun under the leadership of Marcus Schiller. Top priority would be acquiring land for a Jewish cemetery.

Louis Rose answered the need by deeding Adath Joshurun five acres in Roseville. Marcus Schiller and Joseph Manasse provided the lumber to fence the land, and the community planted about fifty pepper trees.8 Both Rose and Manasse were among those buried in the cemetery.

Population shifted with time leaving Roseville and the cemetery inconveniently far from town. Congregation Beth Israel petitioned the City for land in Mount Hope Cemetery for a Jewish burial ground. They received the land in 1892, establishing the “Home of Peace” cemetery.9

With Home of Peace available, the Jewish community discontinued use of the old cemetery. In 1937, they reinterred those buried at the Old Jewish Cemetery into Home of Peace, but retained ownership of the land. During World War II they leased the old cemetery land to the Federal Government for a housing project, those homes eventually being replaced by Doctor’s (now Sharp Cabrillo) Hospital.

Mount Hope

A proposal made by Alonzo E. Horton in October, 1869, prompted the formation of a committee with the purpose of establishing a new San Diego public cemetery. Horton became chairman of the project. Within a year, the new cemetery, “Mount Hope,” received its first burial. City owned and located for health purposes on what then were the outskirts of town, Mount Hope would provide needed burial space for a growing San Diego. Original prices per lot ranged from five to twenty dollars depending on size and location.10 Over the years the grounds expanded to 169 acres. Various sections were set aside for groups such as Masons, Odd Fellows, G.A.R., Jews, and Chinese.

In the Chinese area, the remains were removed every ten or fifteen years to be returned to China. This practice ended after the Communist takeover of their homeland. The new government refused the dead. Still, the Chinese honor their dead with tradition. On the “Day of Dead,” some Chinese still make the annual visit to their section of Mount Hope to celebrate the place of their ancestors, and those to come. The celebration includes pouring tea and wine over the grass as an offering to both earth and heaven, lighting incense as an offering to their ancestors, and burning money to pay their way through the afterlife.

Another area set aside served as a burial ground for indigents, The burials in this area, “Potter’s Field,” included pine coffins, but no grave markers. Names of those buried were recorded in Mount Hope charts.

Unlikely people ended up in Potter’s Field. With the dissolution of Protestant Cemetery in Old Town, the remains of two prominent men were reinterred in Potter’s Field (see Protestant Cemetery). Also, the possibility exists that Sam Brannan, California’s first millionaire, was buried in Potter’s Field.

Sam Brannan, who lived a life of money and power, died penniless. Struck with “inflamation of the bowels” and not having money to pay doctors for treatment, he died within two weeks.12 No one could be found to pay for a burial. So, one of three things happened: one source claimed he lay in Oak Hill Cemetery in Escondido until money for burial at Mount Hope could be found.13 A second source claimed that Brannan’s body waited in receiving vaults at Mount Hope for sixteen months until money was received.14 The third source suggested the term “receiving vault” was a euphemism for Potter’s Field; that Mount Hope never had receiving vaults.15 Wherever he waited those sixteen months, financing finally arrived. He had practically disinherited his children (when he still had money to give); so they either refused to pay for his burial, or did not know of their father’s death. His will, which left each of his three children one dollar explained:

. . . I gave their mother at the time of my divorce from her, a large fortune of over one half millions of dollars and she took charge of the children and alienated them from me and since I learned that she squandered it away in gambling and mining stocks which I am sorry to hear.18

A nephew, Alexander Badlain, paid the $31 charge for Brannan’s burial and sixteen dollars rent on the “vault.” For thirty-seven years, a two-inch wooden stake marked the grave of Sam Brannan; it was finally replaced with a new monument which read:

Sam Brannan
California Pioneer of ’46
 Dreamer, Leader
 Empire Builder17

The number of prominent San Diego people buried at Mount Hope is overwhelming. The Hortons, Marstons, Jessops, Babcocks, Governor Robert Waterman, and Kate Sessions all rest at Mount Hope. Although a perpetual care cemetery, Mount Hope, being a City-owned operation, is prohibited from competing with other cemeteries. Advertising is not allowed, so financially it is dwarfed by corporate-owned cemeteries. Parts of Mount Hope have deteriorated drastically.18 The “Alpha Port Memorial Fountain,” a prime example of this decay, was at one time thought to be “one of the most artistic designs on the coast.” Now it is an eyesore. Designed by Irving Gill, a prominent architect, the fountain was to memorialize the son of Dr. Luke A. Port, who had been lost at sea. Doctor Port left money in his will to operate the fountain, but apparently not enough for continual care.19

Mission Hills Calvary Cemetery

In 1870, the City of San Diego set aside ten acres of land, bought from Joseph Manasse, for a cemetery. Half of the cemetery would be for Protestant burials, the other half for the Catholics. The Protestants never used their plot. The Catholic section, said to have been laid out by Father Antonio Ubach, became known as “Calvary Cemetery.” Many early San Diegans such as the Bandinis and Couts, the Ames and Father Ubach were amongst the 1,650 buried at Calvary.

With the opening of “Holy Cross,” a new Catholic cemetery in 1919, Calvary fell to disuse. Burials continued through 1960, but were rare. The Catholic Parish of the Immaculate Conception continued to maintain Calvary through 1939, when the City took on the responsibility to provide employment under the W.P.A. Just before the City took over, a fire in the caretaker’s shack, located on Calvary grounds, destroyed all the burial records except one book which dated back to 1899.20 Unmarked graves lost their identity.

The W.P.A. maintained Calvary and built a protective adobe wall around it. Nevertheless, through the years, vandals and time turned the cemetery into an eyesore. In 1970, to clean up and avoid further deterioration, the City transformed Calvary Cemetery into a Pioneer Park, a process which, among other things, involved removing the majority of grave markers, and “storing” them in a ravine at Mount Hope where they remain today.21

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Located on Point Loma in an area with a spectacular view of the ocean and San Diego, Fort Rosecrans Cemetery began as part of 1,000 acres set aside for military purposes in 1852.22 Although Ballast Point is believed to be the location of burials from 1542 and 1602, the first recorded burials in the area began in 1856.23 Later, a one-acre plot was designated for the use as a burial ground for the Army’s San Diego Barrack.

The cemetery expanded to ten acres with the 1889 dedication of the fort named after General William Starke Rosecrans who died the previous year. His contribution to the United States included military service in the Civil War, as U.S. Minister to Mexico, and as U.S. Congressman from California. His remains rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Fort Rosecrans became a National Cemetery in 1935.

Servicemen from as far back as the Civil War rest in Fort Rosecrans, including seven Medal of Honor winners—the government’s highest award for bravery. By the main gate, the older post section contains a variety of grave markers, unlike the regimental white marble slabs that cover the rest of the cemetery. Here stands the seventy-five foot granite obelisk to honor those killed on the gunboat, the U.S. Bennington. Anchored in San Diego harbor, the gunboat suffered two explosions on July 21, 1905 and killed over sixty of the 179 men aboard. San Diegans mourned the loss of life. Theatres closed and public buildings served as morgues and hospitals. A funeral procession more than a mile long took the victims to a special section at Fort Rosecrans.24 The monument reads:

To the Bennington’s Dead, July 21, 1905
Erected by the Officers and Men of the Pacific Squadron
to the Memory of those who lost their lives
in the Performance of Duty

Another area was dedicated to those men who died in the Battle of San Pasqual of 1846. Their remains, which already had been moved from their graves at the battlefield to Old Town, were reinterred at Fort Rosecrans in 1889. Several years later a large boulder was brought from San Pasqual and placed at the Fort Rosecrans burial. It listed the names of the San Pasqual casualties.

Three areas in the cemetery memorialize men of the Armed Forces whose bodies were lost at sea, or never recovered. Some headstones read only “U.S. Soldier” for unidentified casualties.

Under unusual circumstances, the remains of Mexican citizens were buried at Fort Rosecrans. Over 200 Federales took refuge in the United States after the Mexican Revolution in 1911. They lived at Fort Rosecrans for a year, over which time six soldiers and three children died.25

The seventy-two acres of Fort Rosecrans, popular with San Diego military families, were closed to new burials in 1966, except for Vietnam casualties, and reserved gravesites. Recently inurnment has again been allowed.

Carmel Valley Cemetery

The McGonigle family homesteaded what is now known as Carmel Valley, obtaining 2040 acres. They were the first whites to settle in the valley and it became known as “McGonigle Valley.”26

The Sisters of Mercy, two of whom eventually developed Mercy Hospital, arrived in San Diego from San Francisco in the 1890s. Since one of the McGonigle family needed constant medical care, the Sisters of Mercy received 1,000 acres of the McGonigle land in return for perpetual health care. The Sisters built a three-story Victorian house on the land where they ran an orphanage. In their big black habits, they could be seen herding cattle with sticks. They also developed a dairy to provide milk for the hospital and, with the help of a Chinese gardener, maintained a prosperous vegetable garden. In 1900, on a small hill across from the house they established a cemetery.

A small ravine dividing the ten-acre site separates the Catholic portion on the west from the Protestant section to the east. The Catholic section, cleared, and shaded by a few pepper trees, has several markers, mainly Hispanic, dating from the 1930s to the 1970s. Eden Gardens, an agricultural area in South Solana Beach was settled by Mexican Americans, mainly laborers. They buried their dead in Carmel Valley Cemetery.27

The wooden cross that marked the graves of the McGonigles, burned with the rest of the wooden fences and markers during a brushfire in the 1930s. Damage also occurred due to wandering cattle.

High, dry weeds cover most of the Protestant section, except a small row of gravesites along the wire fence. Few markers remain. They include the Switzers, Sawyers, Knechtels, Neimans, and Standishes, all longtime residents of the area. A recent grave marked with a rock covered mound, a crude wooden cross without a name or date, stands in the corner.

The Victorian house built by the Sisters of Mercy still remains directly across Carmel Valley Road surrounded by horse stables.


Olivenhain’s cemetery, in San Diego’s north county, manifests the community importance it holds. The one and nine-tenth acre lot was set aside by the German settlers who developed the area. The Denk and Wiro families donated the land.28

Over 100 people rest in this hillside lot, mostly pioneers or descendants of local pioneers. The oldest gravemarker belongs to Anna Hauck who died in 1891. Several family members rest beside her. Family names are abundant such as Wiro, Baumann, Lux, Knechtel, Scott, and Koehler. Numerous graves belong to children. Some not yet given first names simply read “Baby” Lux. Until 1971, when the Olivenhain Cemetery Assocation was formed, volunteers managed the graveyard. Burials were the family’s responsibility; everything from preparing the body to digging the grave. The cemetery remains active.29

Buena Vista Lagoon Cemetery

This small cemetery, overlooking the Buena Vista Lagoon, has lost its battle with “progress.” Mrs. Felipa Hayes, wife of Oceanside’s Justice of the Peace, filed the map for the cemetery in 1890 as one of many of their commercial enterprises during the city’s boom period.30 The plan provided for 106 gravesites.31

In 1959, Mrs. Beth French purchased the land. By that time only about twenty headstones remained visible. A fire in 1952 had destroyed several wooden markers and a wooden fence. From that point the Buena Vista Lagoon Cemetery deteriorated rapidly. It no longer exists today. Of the few markers that remained in the 1960s one read:

Our household circle is
A voice we loved is still 
A place is vacant at our
That never can be filled

Mission San Luis Rey Cemetery and Others Nearby

The cemetery at Mission San Luis Rey, located east of the chapel, is small and crowded with a variety of trees and grave markers. A large ivy-covered cross stands in the center, dedicated to the 3,000 Indians buried around the Mission33 Although Father Fermín de Lasuen founded the mission in 1798, and presumably the cemetery is about the same age, the oldest marker is that of Mary Hayes, 1860.

Most of the markers represent graves from the nineteenth and first twenty years of the twentieth century, and a few up to the 1960s. Burials from the Marron and Romo families predominate. Also, several burials are of immigrants from Ireland and other nations. Next to the cemetery the Padres’ crypt rests beneath the church.

South of Mission San Luis Rey, on a hill, exists a substantial cemetery, completely fenced in and overgrown with weeds. The large visible markers appear Victorian, but are presently not accessible to read. It may possibly be the remains of a cemetery donated in 1870 by Eldridge B. Locke who was postmaster in Oceanside.34

North of the Mission, next to Heritage Park, is the Episcopal All Saints Cemetery, founded in 1888. The only marker legible through the locked gates reads: “A Dragon Lives Forever, But Not So Little Boys.”

Odd Fellows Community Cemetery—Fallbrook

In 1904, F.W. Bartlett of Fallbrook offered the local Odd Fellows lodge the ownership of a three-acre plot of land. It had served as a burial ground since at least 1886. The lodge accepted, as a community service, the land and the responsibility. Additional land was given in 1932.35

Situated on a hillside in the shade of impressive old pepper trees, the Odd Fellows Community Cemetery radiates history. Many of the markers, varying from simple wooden crosses to marble obelisks, date to the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Names include early Fallbrook families such as Fallis, Scott, Lamb, Mack and Ellis.

One of the first Congressional Medal Winners rests here. Sergeant William Pittinger became a Civil War hero as one of “Andrews Raiders,” who swept through Georgia on a stolen train. Once settled in Fallbrook, he served as the Methodist minister until his death in 1889.

In 1904, the I.O.O.F. set the price of its cemetery plots at fifteen dollars for a single plot, or fifty dollars for eight plots (family rate), excluding maintenance.36

The price remains at the 1904 rate, but problems occurred due to the exclusion of maintenance in the initial cost. Relatives of the deceased generally cared for the family plots, or paid the three dollar annual maintenance fee asked by the lodge. As time passed, relatives moved away or died, and the cemetery deteriorated. Eventually a donor left a grant for cemetery restoration and upkeep.

San Antonio de Padua de Pala Mission Cemetery

 A sign in the cemetery reads:

R.I.P. Cemetery
Hundreds of Indians and Pioneers
 are buried in the marked and unmarked
 graves of this old cemetery

“Mission” San Antonio de Padua de Pala, an assistencia of Mission San Luis Rey, was built in 1816 due to an abundance of Indians in that area. The cemetery, situated south of the chapel and fenced by an adobe wall is shaded by pepper trees, and the remains of the old bell tower. Many of the markers date back to the 1880s, and several designate new gravesites. Others, mainly simple wooden crosses bear no name or date.

Indian and Mexican customs were lost, or often modified, some of which dealt with the dead. The “Fiesta de los Manos” began each year by making beautifully clothed dolls, one for each dead baby. A celebration followed, lasting several days. The “manos” were set on a row of sticks, then burned. The survivors wailed for these “manos” as they wail for the dead. yards of fabric and nickels were thrown. Everyone scrambled for them.37

Later, in the twentieth century, the Indians still celebrated the dead, but first mass would be held, after which a celebration began. A casket, and clothing of the departed burned, and survivors wailed, just as they had in the past.

Oak Hill—Escondido

The Oak Hill Cemetery Association was formed in 1889 to establish a cemetery on thirty-eight acres donated by the Escondido Land & Town

Company.38 Ramon Montiel cleared the rocky hills with his team of horses, plotting the cemetery grounds in the pattern of a spoked wheel. Now enlarged, and still operating, Oak Hill has developed into one of the most attractive cemeteries in San Diego County. The abundance of large, shady trees and lush green grass create a very peaceful atmosphere.

Many nineteenth century markers still exist, including some made of cast metal (unusual in San Diego). Most of the wooden markers were destroyed in a fire.

One marker, although simple in appearance, is unusual in that William Beven, whose grave it marks, carved it himself, except perhaps the death date.

San Pasqual Indian Cemetery

In the center of a metal pipe fence stands a pepper tree surrounded by twenty-four crosses and one stone grave marker. An adobe wall once enclosed this graveyard, and in the center stood a large wooden cross with a red heart painted between the arms. Now adjacent to Highway 78, and a schoolyard, this burial ground dates back prior to the Europeans’ intrusion into the San Pasqual Valley.

The remaining cross markers, both of wood and concrete, bear no names or dates. Perhaps they did at one time. The one conventional stone marker reads:

Andres A. Alvarado
Nov. 1912
Mar. 1919

One of the crosses may mark the grave of Felicita La Chappa, the daughter of Pontho, the last herditary chief of the San Pasqual Indians. Felicita died in 1911, and was buried at this cemetery. Having lived over one hundred years, she saw the influx of European settlers. She witnessed the Battle of San Pasqual, and also the exodus of her own people.39

The settlers buried their dead in a variety of places in San Pasqual, while the Indians continued to use their traditional ground.40 At times bones of their ancesters would accidentally be unearthed during preparations for another burial. With two sticks, the exposed bones would be lifted out, set aside until the completion of the new burial, then replaced with the covering of the grave.41

With the introduction of Christianity, the San Pasqual Indians adjusted their burial customs. Funeral ceremonies developed new traditions. One involved a series of pistol shots: three when the person died, three during the body’s trip from home to the chapel, three from the procession from the church to the cemetery, and three as the casket was lowered into the grave.41

Tradition lives on. In the fall, the Indians clear the weeds from the cemetery. In November, they burn candles on the graves for All Souls Day—a Christian tradition.

Nuevo Memory Park—Ramona

The Nuevo Cemetery Association, organized in 1893, developed a small hill in Ramona into a beautiful cemetery with an abundance of trees and roses, and an almost panoramic view of the mountains.42

George Telford, an area farmer and landowner, deeded the land for a cemetery in 1891. The oldest marker dates back to 1888, but may be one of the graves reinterred from the cemetery at Valle de los Amigos (an Indiana Quaker Development), or one of the many memorials to lost or obscure graves of pioneers. Often burials simply took place on the land of the deceased. Other early Ramona residents are actually buried in the cemetery.

Two markers, apparently handmade, are written in Russian. A third, which stands between the others, reads in English:

Born 3/16 ’88
Died 6/27 ’49

Santa Ysabel Mission Cemetery

Dedicated in 1818 as the center for a series of fifteen reservation cemeteries, this small burial ground retains a personality that combines Catholicism and Indian tradition. Almost every marked grave, even those without dates or names, is decorated with artificial flowers in vases, or wreaths, or a single dropped flower.

A white picket fence from the nineteenth century has been replaced with chain link, but the large white cross at the entryway remains. It guided travelers to the Mission as they entered the valley from the Northwest.43

The cross-shaped grave markers, either of wood or concrete, bear unique decorations in shell, rock, even colored bottle glass.

Buried with the Indians he knew so well, is Father La Ponte, a French Canadian missionary, who arrived in Santa Ysabel in 1903, and lived and worked there until his death in 1932.

On All Souls Day, November 2, the Indians in Santa Ysabel celebrate the Festival of Lights with a mass and up to 10,000 candles. A memorial that stands in recognition to those Indians in the area who had fought in wars emphasizes the outward community pride.

Julian’s Haven of Rest

The rambunctious lifestyle of early Julian necessitated a cemetery. Miners fought constantly and during the 1870s, Julian witnessed seven murders.44 Several men “died with their boots on” of alcohol poisoning.45 Men also died in the mines.

The first burial either happened in 1875 with the death of Tommie Harrall,46 or else, as another source claims, was a woodchopper crushed by a falling tree.47 It may be the same person.

Among the first homesteaders in the area, the Bailey brothers and their cousins the Julians, crossed the United States after the Civil War. They arrived in Julian in 1869 with plans to farm the area. Mike Julian found the gold that started the rush of miners to the area. Druey Bailey remained in Julian, playing an important role in the development of the town, and donated land for several public buildings. He is buried in the cemetery.

In Julian’s “Haven of Rest” Cemetery names of settlers that initially came to Julian to mine, including the Putnams, Scotts, and Wilcoxes can be seen. People settled in Julian for a variety of other reasons. The McCains ran a blacksmith shop and the Mountain Glen Hotel. America Newton, an exslave, arrived in 1872, settled on some land two miles west of Julian and made a living laundering clothes. The Hoskings, who initially came for health reasons, ran the “Julian Hotel,” and the sons, soon orphaned, learned the meat business. The Hoskings donated part of the land for the cemetery. Albert and Margaret Robinson built and operated the “Hotel Robinson” from 1887 until his death in 1915. They are all buried at Haven of Peace.


Although a few burials had already taken place on Mt. Pisgah, the need for a larger, more accessible cemetery prompted Mr. B.R. Arnold to donate land for a public cemetery in Alpine. The first recorded burial, Mrs. Sarah Long, took place that year, 1899. Six other funerals occurred before the formation of the Alpine Cemetery Association in 1902.48 Plots cost five dollars. Even so, for the next fifty years, families took responsibility for the burials. Very few old markers remain. Most of the wooden markers, except Adolf Geradehand’s (1900), burned in a fire in 1929. Most date from the 1950s to the present.

One huge marker of marble reads:

Beloved son of Ivan
Husband of Lisa and Daddy of Richie
Kenneth James
Nov. 7, 1945
Feb. 6, 1975
My Get up and Go has Got up and went

On the other side is a large engraving of a vintage Chevy.

Many homemade markers add variety to the cemetery. Examples include one made of concrete with a reflector border, one of wood and barbed wire, and a slab covered with decorative tiles. Some plots are covered with astroturf, others with bunches of plastic flowers.

El Cajon

Before the establishment of the El Cajon Cemetery, the nearest cemetery was in San Diego. Often people preferred to bury their dead on private grounds nearby rather than travel to San Diego. Incorporated in 1903, the cemetery land was purchased from D.S. Bascom and John G. Burgess for $225.

The oldest grave markers belong to Mariah Hall who died in 1889, and her husband, John R. Hall, buried in 1891. They settled in El Cajon in 1886 with their son and his family, and established a ranch. The Hall family helped develop and maintain the cemetery for generations. Many held office in the El Cajon Cemetery Association, including that of President.

For several years the cemetery was mainly used by Mexicans and Indians in the area. Handmade, probably family made markers, are common, even among more recent burials. As a result, the cemetery has a wealth of unique, heartfelt grave markers. Apparently, sometime in the past, the burials also would be the work of the family. Many unrecorded graves have been found, often only buried half the required depth.50

Greenwood Memorial Park

The men who created Greenwood Memorial Park: Edgar G. Davies, William Rodgers, Ralph Granger, George W. Marston, Alfred Haines, Ralph E. Jenny, William Kettner, and H.J. Parsons provided a secure financial base for the cemetery to grow on.

Due to rapid spread of disease, laws at that time required that cemeteries be located outside of town. Situated on a slight hill with an ocean view, directly east of Mount Hope Cemetery, Greenwood’s appeal began with its location.52 Over the years, development of Greenwood included several chapels, a mortuary, crematory, three mausoleums, a collection of international and rare vegetation, a flower shop, and statuary. Judging by the names of some of the people resting in Greenwood, it must have been attractive from the start. A few of the prominent burials include the Seftons, Scripps, Grants, Putnams, Kettners, Frosts, and Timkens.

Many markers here tell a story about the deceased. Someone not knowing Belle Benchley’s connection with the San Diego Zoo would probably wonder about the gorilla face on her grave marker.

Several families, including the Starkeys and Grangers built private mausoleums, a symbol of prestige and money. C. Arnholt Smith built the last of these. Other families commissioned impressive markers. The magnificent bronze Angel of Death marking the family of U.S. Grant Jr. sits in waiting, holding a wilting lily. Its sculptor, H. Augustus Lukeman, created several other important sculptures and memorials throughout the United States.53

Another memorial within Greenwood remains somewhat of a mystery. A man named Frederick Tanzer purchased a cluster of sixteen gravesites and decorated each space with statuary consisting of angels, dogs and lambs, facing various directions. Made of granite and Italian marble, they represent a substantial amount of money that seems excessive for a man who lived his last years subsisting on old age pension. Tanzer dedicated two of the sites to friends (who were still alive). Two graves mark the remains of Tanzer and his wife. The rest remain empty.54

When Cathedral Mausoleum was built in 1919, the acceptance of crypt burials was not yet popular on the West Coast. The idea caught on quickly and the demands for crypts grew at an unforeseen rate. The Cathedral Mausoleum grew to be the largest single building mausoleum in the world.55 Alaskan marble, carefully matched when cut, forms unusual designs on the walls of the original section. With expansion, the use of a variety of marbles creates a different mood in each aisle. An abundance of stained glass windows and statuary provides additional atmosphere.

Like the cemetery, this mausoleum contains the remains of numerous prominent San Diegans. Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink’s crypt sits close to the front entrance. The Wegeforths and Wares, the Sharps, Wangenheims, and Orcutts have crypts in this building, as well as San Diego artist Charles Reiffel, and writer Harold Bell Wright.

The demand for crypts necessitated an additional building. Construction began in 1957 on the Bible Mausoleum.56 Greenwood now contains the largest and second largest mausoleums in the world.

Throughout the grounds special areas are set aside for various groups of people. There are areas for firefighters, various fraternal organizations, Greeks, military groups, Jews, and others.

Other Cemeteries in San Diego County

La Vista
Holy Cross
Mt. Olivet
Cypress View
Glen Abbey
El Camino
German Lutheran St. John

Possibly one called Lotus-by-the-Sea on Point Loma that belonged to the Theosophical Society. Several private family burial grounds exist on San Diego ranches and other property.


1. Winifred Davidson. San Diego Union, December 18, 1966.

2. Richard Carrico, “The Presidio de San Diego, 1769-1937” (unpublished paper, San Diego History Center Research Archives), p. 14. Hereinafter SDHC Research Archives.

3. Orion Zink, “Burying Grounds at Old Town and Mission Hills” (unpublished paper, 1968, SDHC Research Archives), p. 1.

4. Winifred Davidson’s Notes, 1930, SDHC Research Archives, “Cemeteries, General.”

5. San Diego Union, March 26, 1933.

6. SDHC Research Archives, “Cemeteries, General.”

7. SDHC Research Archives, “Cemeteries, Potter’s Field.”

8. Norton B. Stern and William M. Kramer, “The Rose of San Diego,” The Journal of San Diego History, XIX (Fall, 1973), p. 28.

9. Ronald P. Gerson, “Jewish Religious Life in San Diego, California 1851-1918” (unpublished paper, 1974, SDHC Research Archives).

10. Fred Jay Rimbach, Jr., “A History of Cemeteries in the City of San Diego, California” (unpublished paper, 1949, SDHC Research Archives).

11. San Diego Union, October 31, 1976.

12. Butterfield Express, January 1968.

13. Frances Bevern Ryan, Ear\y Days in Escondido (Escondido, California: By the Author, 1970), p. 79.

14. Scrapbook at Mount Hope Cemetery Administration Building.

15. Butterfield Express, January 1968.

16. Ibid.

17. Scrapbook at Mount Hope Cemetery Administration Building.

18. Bob Sutton, Personal Interview, Mount Hope Cemetery, July 9, 1982.

19. Bruce Kamerling and San Diego Union, April 21, 1908, p. 8; 2-4.

20. Zink, “Burying Grounds,” p. 5.

21. Sutton, Interview, July 9, 1982.

22. Fort Rosecrans Administration Building, File 1525-08.

23. Rimbach, “A History of Cemeteries.”

24. Fort Rosecrans, File 1525-08.

25. Ibid.

26. Winifred Davidson’s Notes, 1938, SDHC Research Archives, “McGonigle.”

27. San Diego Union, May 16, 1976.

28. Richard Baumann, Colony Olivenhain (Solana Beach, California: By the Author, 1981), p. 78.

29. Ibid.

30. San Diego Union, August 2, 1964.

31. San Diego Evening Tribune, March 9, 1966.

32. San Diego Union, August 2, 1964.

33. Mission San Luis Rey Visitors Pamphlet.

34. San Diego Union, August 27, 1972, B 3: 3-5.

35. San Diego Evening Tribune, January 17, 1975, C-1.

36. Ibid.

37. SDHC Research Archives, Vertical Files, Article dated February 29, 1936.

38. Ryan, Early Days in Escondido, p. 111.

39. Nancy Rockwood Peet, San Pasqual: A Crack in the Hills (Ramona, California: Ballena Press), p. 86.

40. Ibid., 93.

41. Ibid., p. 88.

42. Rollin Pierce, History of Ramona: A San Diego County Village (San Diego: San Diego History Center), p. 17.

43. San Diego Union, January 29, 1890.

44. Julian Historical Society, History of Julian, p. 21.

45. Mrs. Ida Bailey, Julian Cemetery Association, SDHC Research Archives.

46. Ibid.

47. Julian Historical Society, History of Julian, p. 21.

48. Beatrice La Force, Alpine Southern California: History of a Mountain Settlement (Lakeside, California: Sunlight Press, Inc.), p. 276.

49. Hazel Sperry, History of the El Cajon Cemetery in Historical Data on Early El Cajon, p. 1.

50. San Diego Union, January 25, 1960.

51. Rimback, “A History of Cemeteries.”

52. Calvin C. Edward, Personal Interview, Greenwood Memorial Park, August 13, 1982.

53. Bruce Kamerling. For more information on H. Augustus Lukeman see Contemporary American Sculpture, 1929, p. 213 or M. Fielding, Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, p. 221.

54. San Diego Union, March 27, 1949.

55. James A. March, Vice President, & Director of Sales, Greenwood Memorial Park, Personal Interview, August 13, 1982.

56. Floyd Shaw, Administrative Vice President, Greenwood Memorial Park, Personal Interview, August 17, 1982.

THE PHOTOGRAPHS on pages 270, 273 (bottom), 274, 276 and 277 are from the San Diego Historical Society’s Title Insurance and Trust Collection. All others are courtesy of the author.