Investigating the graveyards of San Francisco is a revealing journey in time.
Graveyards are a treasure trove of information from the past. This information determines our future. As such, they are rich in history, recorded sagas, and documented chronicles.
Cemeteries endure and persist so next generations discovers the remains and remnants of many stories. From the Greek, for the sleeping place, a cemetery is actually full of life and movement. They are home to cultural and religious practices, historical walking tours, unique and ageless art and architecture, and tales of hidden skeletons and corpses of mythic proportions.
Mission Delores in San Francisco is one such necropolis. Founded in 1776, it has the emeritus honor of being the oldest graveyard in the city. Father Junipero Serra’s statue receives visitors upon their arrival. The burial grounds are next to the Mission Dolores Roman Catholic church which is a truly diverse collaboration. A segment is for use by Native American Indians. Ohlone Indian and Mohawk families are lovingly remembered by objects and relics of their times.
As of 1902, bodies can no longer be buried within the San Francisco city limits. So here are some well-known personalities of the era interned at Mission Delores Cemetery.
San Francisco’s first mayor in 1834, Don Francisco de Haro (1792-1849). His accomplishments included networks of street development and the buying of portions of land spanning Lake Merced and San Mateo County. In the Potrero Hill neighborhood, De Haro Street bears his name.
The 13th Governor of Alto California, Captain Luis Arguello (1784-1830) has the added distinction of being the first native-born governor to take office under Mexican rule. An explorer at heart he was instrumental in discovering Northern California. As an environmentalist, he blocked the hunting of sea otters in the San Francisco Bay.
A bit tarnished and infamous inhabitant is the indicted boxer James Yankee Sullivan (1811-1856). Here is the stuff of tall tales. Arrested for ballot box tampering in 1856, by the Vigilance Committee, he died in jail a few days later. Speculation centers on the realms of suicide or murder by corrupt officials.
More secrets are just waiting to be revealed beneath the floors at the Mission Delores. Fees are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Investigate Mission Delores Cemetery