Compiled by Joel GAzis-SAx
To understand Colma, one must understand San Francisco. This timeline includes events in San Francisco taphology to reflect this reality.
|1776||Mission Dolores established. First European cemetery.||Photo|
|1850||Hebrew Cemetery established.|
Yerba Buena Cemetery opens downtown.
|1853||City agrees to maintain Yerba Buena Cemetery.||1855|
|1854||Lone Mountain Cemetery established in San Francisco.||Photo|
|1860||Hebrew Cemetery closed to further interments.|
Original Home of Peace Cemetery opens.
Calvary Cemetery dedicated on land purchased from Lone Mountain cemetery.
Yerba Buena closed to further interments.
|1861||The original Hills of Eternity opens.|
|1862||Calvary Cemetery consecrated by Archbishop Alemany.||Col. Baker's|
|1863||Leland Stanford lays the cornerstone of Lone Mountain's Broderick Memorial.||Broderick Tale|
|1864||Masonic Cemetery Association organized.|
|1865||Odd Fellows Cemetery opens in San Francisco.|
Mark Twain satirizes San Francisco cemetery operators.
|1867||Lone Mountain Cemetery renamed Laurel Hill.|
|1868||City purchases land for Golden Gate Cemetery at Land's End.|
|1870||Yerba Buena remains exhumed and moved to Golden Gate Cemetery.|
|1887||Archbishop Patrick W. Riordan dedicates Holy Cross Cemetery.|
First interments at Colma.
|1888||Original Hills of Eternity closed to further interments.|
Original Home of Peace Cemetery closed to further interments.
|1889||Hills of Eternity moves to Colma.|
Home of Peace Cemetery moves to Colma.
|1891||Salem Cemetery established.|
|1892||Electric trolley service inaugurated.|
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park established.
|1893||First cremations in Colma.|
|1896||Mount Olivet Cemetery established.|
|1898||Soldiers at Camp Merrit (now the Richmond District) spend their idle hours digging skulls and other bones from the sand dunes around Lone Mountain, sending their finds home as "war trophies".|
|1899||Italian Cemetery established.|
|1901||Japanese Cemetery established..|
Serbian Cemetery established.
San Francisco prohibits further burials within the city.
|1904||Woodland Memorial Park established.|
|1906||San Francisco earthquake does some damage to Colma monuments.|
|1907||Sunset View Cemetery established.|
|1909||Golden Gate Cemetery becomes Lincoln Park.|
|1914||City of San Francisco orders removal of cemeteries.|
|1916||Ishi, the last Yahi Indian, is cremated and interred at Olivet Memorial Park after his brain is removed during an autopsy.|
|1919||8,000 remains are moved from Lincoln Park to the Italian Cemetery.|
The Spanish Influenza Epidemic fills five sections of Holy Cross.
|1921||The State Legislature passes the Morris Act, which allows cemetery associations to abandon a cemetery, remove the remains, and sell the land.|
The Masonic Cemetery Association attempts to remove to Woodlawn Cemetery.
|1923||Unknown vandals desecrate the Italian Cemetery.|
Hornblower vs. Masonic Cemetery Assn. upholds the rights of individual cemetery owners to maintain graves in dedicated cemetery land even if the cemetery association chooses to remove.
The Second Morris Act authorizes municipalities to pass ordinaces requiring the removal of bodies in cases where burials have been prohibited by law for a certain number of years.
Removal of Odd Fellows and Masonic Cemeteries remains begins.
|1924||Colma incorporated as City of Lawndale.|
San Francisco voters repeal ordinances designed to remove Calvary and Laurel Hill Cemeteries.
|1929||The Lawndale Town Council moves to allow the transfer of human remains exhumed from other cemeteries, accepting proof of twenty-five years burial in lieu of death certificates.|
|1931||Masons (inc. Emperor Norton) moved to Woodlawn. Leftover stones are used as fill on the approaches to the Golden Gate Bridge.||Joshua Norton Tale|
|1935||Greek Orthodox Cemetery established.|
|1936||Metropolitan Athenagoras consecrates Greek Orthodox Cemetery.|
|1937||The Catholic Archdiocese ceases its opposition to removal and begins making plans to reinterr more than 50,000 at Holy Cross.|
The Town Council outlaws bill boards.
|1938||Construction of City Hall begins.|
|1939||Arthur "Doc" Barker is buried in an unmarked grave at Olivet's unendowed Cosmos Plot after he is shot trying to escape from Alcatraz.|
The Historical Monuments Committee of the National Recreation Association, California Pioneers Society, and Native Sons of the Golden West campaign to preserve part of Laurel Hill, in situ, as a memorial park to the California pioneers.
Removal of Calvary Cemetery and Laurel Hill Cemetery remains to Holy Cross and Cypress Lawn, respectively, begins.
|1940||The Laurel Hill Board of Trustees decides to relocate the remains under its care to Cypress Lawn.|
|1941||City name is changed to Colma at request of U.S. Post Office.|
|1942||Last Laurel Hill remains are interred at Cypress Lawn.|
|1947||Pet's Rest established.|
|1948||An ordinance prohibiting the desecration of cemeteries is passed by the Colma Town Council.|
|1949||Electric rail service to Colma discontinued.|
|1950||The U.S. Census turns up 264 living people in Colma.|
Colma establishes a City Planning Commission which limits development in the city limits to Cemeteries and accessory uses (stonecutters, nurseries, monuments works, etc.), residential, and agricultural. The Zoning ordinance establishes Colma as "a Memorial city".
|1951||Sunset View Cemetery closed. (Now Cypress Hills Golf Course).|
|1957||Westlake earthquake destroys many Colma monuments.|
Actor Hugh O'Brien offers $500 for the return of Wyatt Earp's tombstone.
|1971||Harold and Maude filmed at Holy Cross, Woodlawn & Cypress Lawn.|
|1978||George Moscone's funeral at Holy Cross is the largest ever. Snipers and bomb squads protect the dozens of U.S. Congressmen, legislators, mayors, and other officials who have come for the interment.||George Moscone Tale|
|1988||Hoy Sun Cemetery established.|
|1989||Loma Prieta earthquake damages some Colma monuments.|
|1991||Two thousand mourners fill Eternal Home for the funeral of Bill Graham.|
|1993||Archbishop Quinn dedicates monument to California's Catholic Pioneers at Holy Cross.|
|1994||Golden Hills Cemetery established.|
|1996||BART extended to Colma.|
|1996||Tales from Colma hits the InterNet.|
|1996||Colma voters approve gambling house over objections of cemetery operators.|
|1997||Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association files suit against Bay Area Rapid Transit and San Mateo County Transit District to prevent the extension of BART through Colma cemeteries.|
|1997||The brain of Ishi is located by anthropologists in the Smithsonian Institution.|
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Joel GAzis-SAx wishes to thank Cynthia Price, Ken Silligman and John Martini for their help in compiling this list.
Photograph and text copyright 1996, 1998 by Joel GAzis-SAx. Photo: Italian Cemetery, Colma, California.