This is a map showing the location of the Mission Dolores Church Cemetery which is located at the corner of Dolores and 16th Streets and was built in 1776. There were originally more graves here and they extended down Chula Lane on towards Church Street. According to Andrew Galvan, the new Mission Dolores Archivist, there were around 11,000 graves here before the headstones and some of the dead were removed by their family members.

It seems the city notified all residents they would pay to remove headstones from expelled cemeteries, but not the bodies themselves. It appears many families couldn't afford the unexpected expense and were forced to just leave their departed family members remains behind beneath the Church School Playground asphalt.

A large part of these, reported to of been 5,515 by Brother Ambrose, were Native American graves. Most of the other graves were for early Catholics, Pioneers and the Mission Dolores Church Staff themselves.

Some of these graves were moved to the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma in the 1930's. Most, if not all, of the Native Americans were "consolidated" into a group grave near today's "Grotto" and close by is found the statue of Kateri Tekawitha, a Mohwak maiden, with the following inscription: "In prayerful memory of our faithful Indians".

This communal interment was actually done in accordance with the Indians' wishes. They had a custom which was to "bury in rows and in time disinter and put the remains in a Charnel House". Such a structure actually did exist as part of the Mission Dolores compound for many years prior to the cemetery's "removal event".

There are also numerous folks buried in the floor of the old church. These are the resting places of some of the good founding Friars. There are other graves here, as well, and one of the most notable is one for a William A. Leidesdorff. He was the first black pioneer of the city, who died May 18, 1848. Mr. Leidesdorff was a successful businessman whom also performed other various civic duties besides being the proud owner of the first steamer ship on the San Francisco Bay. ##

There are self-guided tours here of the church and cemetery every day I believe.


San Francisco Cemeteries Page Maps Articles


##"Memories and Notes of Old San Francisco Cemeteries", by Brother Ambrose, St. Benedict, OR, June 18, 2001