San Francisco History

San Francisco National Cemetery
(aka Presidio Cemetery)

Dates of Existence: 1884 to present
Location: Presidio
Number interred: 15,369 (1936); 28,952 (2009)
"S.F. National Cemetery Gives 15,369 Haven.  Final Resting Place for Military Men Established in 1884. Halfway up the slope on one of the Presidio hills, with a vista that sweeps down the tumbling terrain to the waters of the bay and beyond to the sheer cliffs of the Marin shore, stands the San Francisco National Cemetery, final resting place of 15,369 men of the United States military service.

Located in a grove of trees in the San Francisco Presidio, this hallowed ground was established December 12, 1884, by a general order signed by command of Lieutenant General Sheridan and Adjutant General R. C. Drum.  At that time the ground space was 9 1/2 acres, but interments have caused the burial space to be increased to 30 acres.

On July 19, 1922, 38 bodies were unearthed in an isolated spot of the Presidio.  The bones were believed the remains of early Spanish conquistadores who founded the local fortification.  The bodies of 474 unknown dead sent here from early Western frontier camps and stations in the Phillipine islands have been buried in one grave.  In all, the National Cemetery lists 510 unknown bodies.


In this sacred inclosure are shrouded men of all races, religions, ages and degrees of rank.  From the highest ranking officers, Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett and Rear Admiral Oscar W. Farenholt, who rose from seaman to Rear Admiral in the United States Navy, to an unknown Inidan guide whose headstone reads: "Two Bits."

Here may be found the last early remains of Major General Irwin McDowell of Civil war fame, after whom the fort on Angel Island was named; Major General William R. Shafter, noted veteran of the Spanish-American war; Major General Frederick Funston, who endeared himself to the citizens of San Francisco by his policing of the city at the time of the fire; Ann Harding's father, Brigadier General George C. Gately; Willaim M. Caldwell, Lieutenant, 95th Pursuit Squadron, killed in 1930 escorting the Japanese instrument of ratification of the London naval treaty across the United States; Major Thomas Cowan Bell, 74th Ohio Infantry Volunteers, soldier, journalist, educator and founder of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


 Service men holding honorable discharge certificates may be interred, provided that since leaving the service no crime has been committed which calls for a forfeiture of citizenship. The Presidio burial ground is one of 85 national cemeteries.  In addition, the United States possesses six cemeteries in Europe and one in Mexico City.  Marble headstones are furnished by the Government for all officers and enlisted men.  Officers may still have private monuments if they are approved by the Government."

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 9 February 1936.


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