San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Union Cemetery


California State Landmark #816 - Status granted March 26, 1963 

Cath Madden Trindle

Just down the street from my home in Redwood City lies one of the oldest cemeteries in San Mateo County.  Union Cemetery, located on Highway 84 (Woodside Road) has a unique history in that it is that the Union Cemetery Association which was formed in 1859 passed ownership of the cemetery to the State of California.  You can read more about the history of the cemetery on the Historic Union Cemetery website which is linked below.

I've been exploring the cemetery for years, bringing along an entourage at times.  My granddaughter Madi(son) spent many a day there helping take pictures and learning her letters.  Over the years Caroline Ybarra helped me catalog and photograph many of the tombstones in the cemetery.  Those pictures and a database of over 2200 burials have been available on California Genealogy and History Archives for the last two years.  This database includes information from a variety of sources that might not be duplicated in the links below, so once you've used the other resources check back here for possible links CA death records, newspaper articles, etc.


Find a Grave lists 995 burials with a few photographs, worth checking as you might find family connections that are not available elsewhere.


During the 1970s many stones were destroyed by vandals.  And by the 1990s the cemetery was in dire need of care.

In 1992 the Historic Union Cemetery Association was formed and many of the ruined stones were repaired.  President John Edmonds, with the help of a very able webmaster, has created a cemetery guide that includes not only a burial list, but also a marker list, photographs of existing tombstones and stories of the cemetery residents including pictures in some cases.  Play with the lists, it is possible to sort them on any column just by clicking on the title. The website is a wonderful resource for early families in San Mateo County.  Digital copies of the Union Cemetery Burial Register 1854-1917 and the 1937 DAR Tombstone Reading project are available for perusal or download.

For those that prefer paper to Internet, a book by John Edmond'a can be ordered from Amazon
After a lull of many years, vandals again smashed three stones in 2010.   One hopes that the vandals are suitable haunted by the occupants.

If you're ancestors are buried in Union Cemetery and you have a picture of a stone that no longer stands, send it to the HUCA for inclusion on the website.  You might also consider including a story about the person interred and/or a photograph.  If you have a complete family history you'd like to share, consider including it in the SMCGS First Families project, or at least submitting it for the "Other Families" section of our website.

Check out pictures from SMCGS' field trip to Union Cemetery on Pinterest.



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