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Mission Delores Cemetery

November 1, 2016

 

Established during the American Revolutionary War on October 9, 1776, Mission Dolores Cemetery at 3321 16th Street is the oldest cemetery in San Francisco. The Mission Dolores church adjacent to it is the oldest building in the city that was not destroyed by the famous earthquake and fires in 1906. As you enter the cemetery grounds, you will see a statue of Father Junipero Serra, the Roman Catholic Spanish priest who established the Mission Movement in California and inspired the seventh religious settlement at Mission Delores as part of his series of mission churches.

A portion of the cemetery was dedicated to the Native American Indians who inhabited this area and you can see an example of the kind of homes they built using tall grassy reed plants. There’s also a wood headstone that describes one of the Ohline Indian families who were buried in a mass grave at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Mission Dolores Cemetery. A statue of a Mohwak Indian woman who was buried there is inscribed with "In prayerful memory of our faithful Indians". The cemetery garden contains many examples of Native American Ohlone Indian artifacts and plants.

In 1889 the size of the Mission Dolores Cemetery was reduced to make room for more building construction, and in 1902 a law was passed making it illegal to bury any more bodies within the San Francisco city limits. San Francisco residents buried at Mission Dolores Cemetery include Don Francisco De Haro, the first mayor of San Francisco, and Captain Luis Arguello, the first Mexican governor of Alta California. The cemetery also contains the graves of some notorious residents of San Francisco including James “Yankee” Sullivan, a bare-knuckled fighter and boxer who was indicted by the city’s Committees of Vigilance, and James P. Casey who was convicted of murdering James King of William in 1856. Casey was a San Francisco newspaper editor who shot James King as he was walking out of the newspaper offices of the old San Francisco Call-Bulletin on the west side of Montgomery Street.

If you’re driving a car, complimentary parking is available at the Mission Dolores parking lot on weekends. Public transportation is easy via the Fillmore 22 electric bus that has a bus stop near the Mission Dolores Church entrance. The Church Street J streetcar also has a stop one block west of the church at Church Street. There’s also a BART station located three blocks east of the church at 16th Street and Mission Street.

 

Peter Cross is an accomplished article writer and creative writer who has produced hundreds of articles for many different clients since 2006 when he retired from his consulting business.

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