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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Daly City Cemeteries

by Russell Brabec 

Everyone has heard of the multitude of cemeteries in Colma, but adjacent Daly City has four active cemeteries, one inactive cemetery and one cemetery that was never developed.  The lands for these
Russian Sectarian Cemetery
properties were acquired from the descendants of two Irish-American families, Bridget and Patrick Morgan Brooks and Elizabeth and Owen McMahon.
  These two pioneer families held land comprising today of southern Colma, northern South San Francisco and southern Daly City.

During the last decade of the nineteenth century, as civilization marched westward through the Western Addition and the new district known as the Richmond, the “City Cemetery” and others became a target for closure by residents and developers.  Situated above Lands End, the former cemetery is now occupied by the Veterans Administration, the Palace of Legion of Honor and Lincoln Park and its golf course.  The cemetery was home to a number of ethnic groups and organizations along with a section for paupers.

The Chinese Cemetery bounded by Arguello, California, Euclid and Palm (or Jordan) Streets was also affected.  The Ning Yung Company had on its books fully one-half of all Chinese in the United States.

The closing date for burials of 01 March 1898 was extended to 01 April 1898 to provide time to locate property elsewhere for burials in San Mateo County.  The undertakers feared a backlog of burials on the horizon and immense disposal problems.  The Hagan brothers started acquiring lots in a block in the Abbey Homestead across from Cypress Lawn Cemetery (Sunset Cemetery) on the east side of Hillside Boulevard to be used for paupers.  The Serbian, Jewish and others followed to Colma.

The Chinese, victims of discrimination, had no such opportunity in the Colma cemetery area.  Ellen Maria McMahon Barry, daughter of pioneers Elizabeth and Owen McMahon, sold 40.17 acres on 21 February 1898, for a Chinese Cemetery for an undisclosed amount of money.  This cemetery, now slightly reshaped to 32.326 acres by the development of Serramonte in Daly City, lies at the intersection of Hickey Boulevard and Callan Boulevard.

Pioneer Patrick Morgan Brooks, former County Supervisor, sold 5 acres of land for $2,500 on 25 March 1898, to the Ning Yung Benevolent Cemetery Association including his authorization for establishing a cemetery.  The Ning Yung Benevolent Cemetery Association acquired its 5-acre northern section from J. A. Christen on 18 June 1948, for and undisclosed amount of money.

The San Francisco Call stated “none will be interred but those belonging to that [Ning Yung] society, while other cemetery members will find a temporary resting place until their bones are removed for transportation to the home of their forefathers.

       “… The Superintendent of the City Cemetery charged them [Chinese] $2.50 for the opening of every grave against $1.00 to all others who had a grave opened within the enclosure.  The distance of       fifteen miles [to the new cemetery], however, is a matter that annoys them somewhat, as it will cost more to convey the bodies and the funeral eatables for the defunct on his long journey to the land of the rising sun.

       “Each cemetery will have a white man for superintendent, as the Chinese do not favor grave digging.

       “The rest of the article notes the prejudice against the Chinese; the two-tiered rate structure                     against the Chinese [noted below] and the grave contractors’ financial and contractual                         responsibility to bury the dead even though the cemetery has closed.” 

Patrick followed this by selling two acres to the Chinese Christian Cemetery Association on 26 July 1898 for $1,000; sold two acres to Edward Kelly on 09 Dec 1898, which is now know as Chong Seen Cemetery, and appears inactive, and his daughters sold 25 acres to the City and County of San Francisco on 07 February 1905, for $8,750 for a City Cemetery, which was never developed.  This land was on an extremely steep slope on the north side of what is now Hickey Boulevard.      It would have been a pauper’s cemetery, but it is now occupied by other uses.

The City, in turn, sold 3.35 acres to the Russian Sectarian Cemetery Association on 30 November 1932 for $3,350, and sold 4.9 acres to the Tung Sen Cemetery Association on 14 January 1937 for $4,900.

These five smaller cemeteries were annexed to the City of Daly City on 01 April 1974, so they could have a back up waters supply at in-city rates.

Read more Daly City Cemetery History 2015 Russ Brabec - History Guild of Daly City/ Colma and SMCGS

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