Historic
CALIFORNIA CEMETERY LAWS





1859

Chapter CCLXVII.



AN ACT to authorize the Incorporation of Rural Cemetery Associations.  [Approved April 18, 1859.]

The People of the State of California, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

     Section 1.    Any number of persons residing in this State, not less than seven, who shall desire to forma an Association for the purpose of procuring and holding lands, to be used exclusively for a cemetery, or place for the burial of the dead, may meet at such time and place, as they, or a majority of them may agree, and appoint a Chairman, or Secretary, by a vote of the majority of the persons present at the meeting, and proceed to form an Association, by determining on a corporate name, by which the Association shall be called and known, by determining on the number of Trustees, to manage the concerns of the Association, which number shall not be less than six, nor more than twelve, and thereupon may proceed to elect, by ballot, the number of Trustees, so determined on, and the Chairman and Secretary shall, immediately after such election, divide the Trustees, by lot, into three classes:  those in the first class to hold their offices one year; those in the second class, two years; and those in the third class, three years; but the Trustees of each class may be re-elected, if they shall possess the qualifications hereinafter mentioned.  The meeting shall also determine on what day, in each year, the future annual elections of Trustees shall be held.
     Sec. 2.    The Chairman and Secretary of the meeting shall, within three days after such meeting, make a written certificate and sign their names thereto, and acknowledge the same before an officer authorized to take proof and acknowledgement of conveyances, in the County where such meeting shall have been held, which certificate shall state the names of the associates determined upon by the majority of the persons who met; the number of Trustees fixed on to manage the concerns of the Association; the names of the Trustees chosen at the meeting, and their classification, and the day fixed on for the annual election of Trustees; which certificate it shall be the duty of the Chairman and Secretary of such meeting to cause to be filed and recorded in the office of the County Clerk of the County in which the cemetery grounds are situated, in a book to be appropriated to the recording of certificates of incorporations. 
     Sec. 3.    Upon such certificate, duly acknowledged an filed as aforesaid, being recorded, the Association mentioned therein shall be deemed legally incorporated, and shall be a body politic and corporate, in fact and in name, by the name stated in the certificate, and by their corporate name, have succession and power:
     First - To sue and be sued in any  Court.
     Second - To make and use a common seal, and alter the same at pleasure.
     Third - To purchase, hold, sell, and convey, such real and personal estate as the purposes of the incorporation shall require.
     Fourth - To appoint such officers, agents, and servants, as the business of the Corporation shall require, to define their powers, prescribe their duties, and fix their compensation.
     Fifth - To require of them such security as may be thought proper for the fulfillment of their duties, and to remove them at will, except that no Trustee shall be removed from office unless by a vote of two-thirds of the whole number of Trustees, or by a vote of a majority of the Trustees, on a written request, signed by one-half of the lot-owners.
     Sixth - To make by-laws not inconsistent with the laws of this State, for the organization of the Company, the management of the property, regulation of its affairs, and for carrying on all kinds of business within the object and purposes of the Company.  The affairs and property of such Associations shall be managed by the Trustees, who shall annually appoint, from among their number, a President and Vice President, and shall also appoint a Secretary and Treasurer, who shall hold their places during the pleasure of the Board of Trustees, and the Trustees may require the Treasurer to give security for the faithful performance of the duties of his office.
     Sec. 4.    Any Association incorporated under this Act, may take, by purchase or devise, and hold, within the County in which the certificate of their incorporation is recorded, not exceeding three hundred and twenty acres of land, to be held and occupied exclusively for a cemetery for the burial of the dead.  Such land, or such parts thereof as may from time to time be required for that purpose, shall be surveyed and subdivided into lots or plats of such size as the Trustees may direct, with such avenues, paths, alleys, and walks, as the Trustees deem proper; and a map or maps of such surveys shall be filed in the office of the County Recorder of the County in which the land shall be situated.  And after filing such map, the Trustees may sell and convey the lots or plats designated upon such map, upon such terms as shall be agreed upon, and subject to such conditions and restrictions, to be inserted in or annexed to the conveyances, as the Trustees shall prescribe.  The conveyances to be executed under the common seal of the Association, and signed by the President or Vice-President, and the Treasurer of the Association.  Any Association incorporated under this Act, may hold personal property to an amount not exceeding five thousand dollars, besides what may arise from the sale of lots or plats.
     Sec. 5.    The annual election for Trustees, to supply the place of those whose term of office expires, shall be holden on the day mentioned in the certificate of incorporation, and at such hour and place as the Trustees shall direct; at which election shall be chosen such number of Trustees as will supply the places of those whose term expires.  The Trustees chosen at any election subsequent to the first, shall hold their places for three years, and until others shall be chosen to succeed them.  The election shall be by ballot, and every person of full age, who shall be the proprietor of a lot or plat in the cemetery of the Association, containing not less than two hundred square feet of land, or if there is more than one proprietor of any such lot, or plat, then such one of the proprietors as the majority of joint-proprietors shall designate to represent such lot or plat, may, either in person or by proxy, give one vote for each plat, or lot, of the dimensions aforesaid; and the persons receiving a majority of all the votes given at such election, shall be Trustees, to succeed those whose term of office expires.  But in all elections after the first, the Trustees shall be chosen from among the proprietors of lots, or plats, and the Trustees shall have power to fill any vacancy in their number occurring during the period for which they hold their office.  Public notice of the annual elections shall be given in such manner as the by-laws of the Corporation shall prescribe.
     Sec. 6.    The Trustees, at each annual election, shall make reports to the lot-proprietors of their doings, and of the management and condition of the property and concerns of the Association.  If the annual election shall not be held on the day fixed in the certificate of incorporation, the Trustees shall have power to appoint another day, not more than sixty days thereafter, and shall give public notice of the time and place at which time the election may be held, with like effect as if holden on the day fixed on in the certificate.  The office of the Trustees chosen at such time, to expire at the same time as if they had been chosen at the day fixed by the certificate of incorporation.
     Sec. 7.    After its formation in the manner provided in the preceding sections, the Corporation shall proceed to purchase suitable grounds for the proposed cemetery, and to the vendor thereof, they are authorized to issue the bonds of the Corporation for the amount of the purchase-money, bearing interest not exceeding the rate of twelve per cent. per annum, but payable out of sixty per cent. of the proceeds of the cemetery, as the same shall be realized, and not otherwise.  Sixty per cent., at least, of the proceeds of all sales of lots, plats, or graves, shall be first appropriated to the payment of the said bonds and interest aforesaid, payable at least once in three months to the bond-holders, until all are paid, and the residue thereof to be used in preserving, improving, and embellishing the said cemetery-grounds, and the avenues or roads leading thereto, and to defraying the incidental expenses of the cemetery establishment; and after payment of the purchase-money and interest, as aforesaid, and all debts, contracted therefor, and for surveying and laying out the land, the proceeds of all future sales shall be applied to the improvement, embellishment, and preservation of such cemetery, and for incidental expenses, and to no other purpose or object.
     Sec. 7 was amended on January 13, 1864, at which time the following provisions was added after  the last word in the above:  ; provided, that any association incorporated under this Act by the members of the Order of Free and Accepted Mason, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, or by the members of any other benevolent or charitable society in the City and County of San Francisco, may apply the surplus or net income of such Cemetery Association to the Board of Relief or other committee established by such order or society for the purposes of charity.  [Stats. 1864, Chapter XIII. - An Act to amend an Act entitled an Act to authorize the Incorporation of Rural Cemetery Associations, approved April eighteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty-nine.]
     Sec. 8.    Any person who shall willfully destroy, mutilate, deface, injure, or remove, any tomb, monument, grave-stone, building, or other structure, placed in any cemetery of any Association incorporated under this Act, or any fence, railing, or other work, for the protection or ornament thereof, or of any tomb, monument, or grave-stone, or other structure aforesaid, or of any plat or lot, within such cemetery, or shall willfully destroy, cut, break, or injure, any tree, shrub, or plant, within the limits of such cemetery, shall be liable in an action of trespass, to be brought, in all such cases, in the name of such Association, to pay all such damages as shall have been occasioned by his unlawful act, or acts.  Such money, when recovered, shall be applied, by the  Trustees, to the reparation, or restoration, of the property so destroyed or injured.
     Sec. 9.    Any Association incorporated pursuant to this Act, may take and hold any property, real, or personal, bequeathed, or given upon trust, to apply the income thereof, under the direction of the Trustees of such Association, for the improvement or embellishment of such cemetery, or the erection or preservation of any buildings, structures, fences, or walks, erected, or to be erected, upon the lands of such Cemetery Association, or upon the lots or plats, of any of the proprietors; or for the repair, preservation, erection, or removal of any tomb, monument, grave-stone, fence, railing, or other erection, on or around any cemetery lot, or plat, or for the planting, or cultivating trees, shrubs, flowers, or plants, in or around any such lot, or plat, or for improving or embellishing such cemetery, or any of the lots, or plats, in any manner or form, consistent with the design and purposes of the Association, according to the terms of such grant, devise, or bequest.
     Sec. 10.    The cemetery-lands and property of any Association, formed pursuant to this Act, shall be exempt from all public taxes, rates, and assessments, and shall not be liable to be sold on execution, or be applied in payment of debts due from any individual proprietors.  But the proprietors of lots, or plats, in such cemeteries, their heirs, or divisees, may hold the same exempt therefrom, so long as the same shall remain dedicated to the purpose of a cemetery; and, during that time, no street, road, avenue, or thoroughfare, shall be laid through such cemetery, or any part of the lands held by such Association, for the purposes aforesaid, without the consent of the Trustees of such Association, except by special permission of the Legislature of the State.
     Section 10 was amended on April 24, 1911, to read as follows:  
     Sec  10.  The cemetery lands and property of any association, formed pursuant to this act, shall be exempt from all public taxes, rates, and assessments, and shall not be liable to be sold on execution, or be applied in payment of debts due from any individual proprietors.  But the proprietors of lots, or plots, in such cemeteries, their heirs, or divisees, may hold the same exempt therefrom, so long as the same shall remain dedicated to the purposes of a cemetery.  [Stats. 1911, Chapter 576, An act to amend section 10, of an act entitled "An act to authorize the incorporation of rural cemetery associations," approved April 18, 1859, and all acts amendatory thereof.]
     Sec. 11.    Whenever the said lands shall be laid off into lots, or plats, and such lots, or plats, or any of them, shall be transferred to individual holders, and after there shall have been an interment in a lot, or plat, so transferred, such lot, or plat, from the time of such interment, shall be forever thereafter inalienable, and shall, upon the death of the holder or proprietor thereof, descend to the heirs-at-law of such holder or proprietor, and to their heirs-at-law forever;
Provided, nevertheless, that any one or more of such heirs-at-law, may release, to any other of the said heirs-at-law, his, her, or their, interest in the same, on such conditions as shall be agreed on and specified in such release, which release shall be recorded with the  County Recorder of the County within which the said cemetery shall be situated; And, provided further, that the body of any deceased person shall not be interred in such lot, or plat, unless it be the body of a person having, at the time of such decease, an interest in such lot, or plat, or the relative of some person having such interest, or the wife of such person, or her relative, except by the consent of all persons having an interest in such lot, or plat.
     Sec. 12.    In case the grounds purchased for cemetery purposes, in accordance with section seven of this Act, shall have been used as a cemetery previous to such purchase, then those who are lot-owners, at the time of the purchase, shall have, and be entitled to, all the privileges they would be entitled to by purchase from a corporation formed as aforesaid.

     Amended March 31, 1891, to add Section 13

     Sec. 13.    Whenever all the bodies buried in any lot or plot, in this Act referred to, shall have been removed therefrom, with the consent of the majority of the Board of Directors of the corporation owning said cemetery, it shall be lawful for the owners of the lot or plot, with the consent of a majority of said Directors, to transfer the same by deed.  [Stats. 1891, Chapter CLXXXIV, An Act to amend an Act entitled "An Act to authorize the incorporation of rural cemetery associations," approved April 28 [sic], 1859, and to authorize the owners of lots in such cemeteries to transfer them by deed.]

 
[Repealed by Section 32 of Chapter 1148, commonly known as the General Cemetery Act, approved June 19, 1931, and enacted August 14, 1931.]

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