Saving Graves

Placerville Union Cemetery

Placerville, El Dorado County, California


Date: July 12, 2000

Cemetery: Placerville Union Cemetery
Street: Bee Street
City: Placerville
County: El Dorado
State: CA
Nation: USA
Land Type: Private
Status: Active
Graves within: 8,000+
Oldest grave: ca. 1850
Records: Yes
Inventory: Yes
Owner: State of California, Dept. of  Consumer Affairs, Cemetery and Funeral Bureau
General Neglect

Records location

1. DAR 1935 Tombstone Inventory; El Dorado County Historical Museum

2. Listing by Betty C. Laarveld; incomplete; 1975; El Dorado County Historical Museum

3. Local funeral homes may have some records, but the party's name would have to be known.

4. A plot map is on file at the El Dorado County Recorder's office that was dated 1967.

Cemetery description

Placerville Union Cemetery was first known as the Union Cemetery. Though some of the grounds had already been used by the public, around 1870 or 1871, a local property owner supposedly deeded the cemetery over to the various benevolent societies such as the Masons, Odd Fellows, Druids, etc. The cemetery was operated by the "Union Cemetery Association," as those organizations loosely formed themselves and employed a superintendent up until about the mid-1960's. Thereafter, a non-profit corporation was formed to continue to operate the cemetery which miraculously grew 3,000 more open grave sites, when it had been reported to be nearly full in 1947.

As a result of mismanagement this most historic cemetery in the gold rush town of Placerville has recently been shut down and has not been maintained for over two months. A criminal investigation apparently has been ongoing and charges are expected to be filed against those involved with the cemetery in the coming weeks.

It is difficult to tell how much operator inflicted damage may have occurred at the cemetery as the operator attempted to find new places to bury people. It is not known if older graves have already been buried over or if older burial plots have been masked to appear as virgin ground.

Other Problems

This cemetery has continued to be operated despite the fact that it was full or near full in 1947. There is a danger that older graves have been or will be impacted in burials are allowed to continue.

The State of California will undoubtedly attempt to find someone else willing to take care of the cemetery and if it is transferred to another private cemetery operator there is every reason to believe the cemetery will continue to be impacted by being overfull and receiving current interments.

Previous Contacts


Current Status

Pending result of investigation, formal legal charges, and other actions planned by the department involved.

The grounds are not presently being maintained. What once was the gem of Placerville, a cemetery that used to be called the "beautiful city of the dead," now looks as if it has been all but abandoned.

Anyone wanting further information is urged to contact the El Dorado County Sheriff's office and the California Dept. of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Program

Records of interments that have occurred since 1967 are kept at the Chapel of the Pines Funeral Home on Cold Springs Road in Placerivlle.


Date: May 22, 2002
name: Sue Silver
Cemetery: Placerville Union Cemetery
City: Placerville
County: El Dorado
State: California
Nation: USA
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May 22, 2002:

A letter to the editor of the Mountain Democrat authored by Alma Pomeroy appeared in the May 22, 2002 edition. Ms. Pomeroy complained about the unkempt condition of the cemetery noting she had to wade through waist-high weeds to visit the graves of her loved ones.

In the summer of 2000, similar maintenance problems were occurring and shortly after that a local firm, Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery, agreed to manage the cemetery for the cemetery corporation. It is believed Green Valley is still managing the cemetery and providing its' maintenance.

Earlier this year, the board of supervisors was asked to consider a request by Green Valley to operate the county's Mormon Island Cemetery where nine historic cemeteries were relocated to between 1954 and 1998. If they can't keep up with Placerville Union Cemetery maintenance, how are they going to manage to care for yet another cemetery?