San Diego, known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant city life, also holds a significant historical heritage. San Diego’s oldest cemetery lies in the center of San Diego. Old Town Graveyard offers a fascinating look into the city’s early years and the lives of those who helped form its history. This cemetery contains tales of pioneers, settlers, and notable individuals. For current funeral services, see our cremation or burial sections.

The Old Town San Diego Cemetery is the oldest burial ground in San Diego and does not allow new interments. The cemetery is a historical site now and serves as the final resting place for those interred there years ago. Its purpose is to display and preserve the historical value of San Diego’s early years and the various communities that contributed to its growth. Therefore, it is primarily a place for visitors to explore and learn about the city’s history. It is not a functioning cemetery for contemporary burials. See Mount Hope cemetery for information on burial plots at San Diego’s second oldest cemetery.

Stones around graves
Tree Over Grave

Local Tapestry – Historic graveyard

Cemetery El Campo Santo, later known as The Old Town San Diego Cemetery, was founded in 1849. It is a reminder of  San Diego’s not-that-distant past. Situated near the Old Town San Diego State Historical Park, this hallowed ground is a place of remembrance for the diverse people who shaped the city’s cultural fabric.

The figure displays some of San Diego’s oldest cemeteries and approximates when they were established.

Ground penetrating radar has been used to survey the cemetery over several years. Many unmarked graves have been discovered within the cemetery, and numerous other burials have been buried beneath San Diego Avenue, which was paved in 1942. Many gravesites are enclosed by white fencing, while others have their locations marked by pebbles and a plain piece of carved wood. Today’s walled-in area only encloses a portion of the old cemetery and is not the entire one. 

Oldest Cemeteries in San Diego

Early Settlers and Pioneers at Historic Graveyard in San Diego

Visitors can find the resting places of early settlers and pioneers who left an indelible mark on San Diego within the cemetery’s boundaries. One of them is Juan Bandiniis, a famous figure from the region’s past. He was crucial to the town’s development during the Mexican era. His final resting place serves as a tribute to his contributions and influence.

Another notable burial is that of Thomas Whaley, a prominent 19th-century businessman who built the iconic Whaley House, now a historic landmark in San Diego. His grave stands as a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and enduring legacy.

Old Town Cemetery 3
Old Town Cemetery 4

Cultural Diversity

Old Town Cemetery is a testament to the various ethnicities and nationalities represented among the graves. Mexican, Native American, Chinese, and other immigrant communities have found their eternal resting places within these grounds. Each tombstone tells a unique story, reflecting the diverse tapestry of the oldest burial ground in San Diego.

Old Town Cemetery and Hauntings

Old Town Cemetery is also known to be haunted by spirits and has a long history of paranormal activity. Here are a couple of the famous ghost stories associated with the Old Town Cemetery:

1. One well-known ghost story is about The Lady in White—a woman in a white robe who is frequently seen wandering through the graveyard at night. According to the legend, a young woman named María Antonia died tragically in a horseback riding accident. Visitors claim to have seen her ghostly figure near her grave or walking among the tombstones. Some have reported feeling a sudden drop in temperature or hearing disembodied voices.

2. The Little Girl: Another haunting tale revolves around the spirit of a young girl who is said to play in the cemetery after dark. Witnesses have heard a child giggling and running, only to find no one there. Some say she may be the ghost of a young girl named Rosalia, who died in the late 1800s from illness

Restoration Efforts at Historic Graveyard

Numerous repair attempts have been conducted to maintain the historical relevance of the Old Town San Diego Cemetery. The city’s historical past must be preserved by recognizing and keeping the oldest cemetery and oldest burial ground in San Diego. For future generations to connect with their roots and comprehend the hardships, victories, and cultural diversity that have defined San Diego’s identity. Efforts should be made to maintain the cemetery’s conservation and accessibility.

Visiting the Oldest Cemetery

A visit to our oldest cemetery is an opportunity to pay tribute to people who contributed to the creation of the city as we know it today. Being surrounded by the echoes of the past, one can experience a sense of peace and reverence when strolling around the cemetery. While walking around the cemetery, one could experience joy and peacefulness while surrounded by the echos day gone by.

As you wander amidst the tombstones, you may notice faded inscriptions, weathered sculptures, and ornate monuments, all adding to the cemetery’s mystique and historical allure. The serene atmosphere invites visitors to reflect on the lives lived and appreciated the stories that unfolded within these sacred grounds.

Old town Cemetery – Conclusion

The Old Town San Diego Cemetery, San Diego’s oldest cemetery, contains the graves of early immigrants, pioneers, and the many populations who once called this place home. We ensure that future generations will continue to be inspired and educated by the pioneers of San Diego by maintaining and honoring this cemetery.
Funerals Your Way
Translate »

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Call Now Button