Enjoy a short video about the historical significance of the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery.
1854 Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery was established as the result of an accident. In November of 1854 a young father, who had arrived from Missouri only weeks before, drowned in a pond near the center of town. He was buried on land that was part of a Mexican grant given to one of the earliest settlers of Santa Rosa, Doña Maria Ignacia Lopez de Carrillo. Soon other families needed burial places, and the area became an unofficial cemetery.
1867 In 1867 the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery Association was formed and burial plots in the 17-acre site were formally offered for sale.
1930 Sales of plots continued through the late 1930s, through records of these transactions have been lost. During the decades that the cemetery was active, parts of the land were sold off and three separate but adjacent cemeteries were established: the Stanley, Moke, and Fulkerson Cemeteries. After the 1930s, neglect and vandalism took their toll on the cemetery through years of unclear ownership and sporadic maintenance.
1965 The Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery Association was formed because of a common concern for the site's maintenance and cultural value.
1979 The City of Santa Rosa acquired ownership of the four cemeteries.
1985 The City's Board of Community Services organized a trail through the property for the benefit of visitors who shared an interest in the sites.
1994 A plan for a permanent cemetery organization was approved by the Santa Rosa City Council. The plan called for the organization of the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery Restoration Committee to assist with improvements and ongoing maintenance and fundraising. They made great strides in repairing damage, clearing overgrowth, and planning for permanent maintenance. The name was eventually changed from the Restoration Committee to the Preservation Committee.
1997 The City of Santa Rosa awarded Historical Landmark status to the Rural Cemetery.
Today Today, the four cemeteries combined are owned by the City of Santa Rosa and known collectively as Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery. The only burials permitted today are those of descendants of families who held deeds to cemetery plots. The total number of burials is over 5200. Docent-led tours during the summer months acquaint visitors with the history of the town and the many town pioneers who are buried here. Lamplight Tours, conducted in September as fund-raising events, present dramatic vignettes from the lives of the famous and not-so-famous people buried in the Rural Cemetery.