San Francisco History

Russian Hill Cemetery

Dates of Existence: 1848 to 1853
Location: between Taylor and Jones streets, and north of Vallejo street (northern slope)
Number interred: 30 to 40
Moved to: probably Yerba Buena Cemetery
"PIONEER CEMETERIES. — Prior to the discovery of gold in California, in 1848, a Russian man-of-war put into the harbor of San Francisco, and whilst here a number of her men died. The bodies were buried on what has been since that period known as Russian Hill. The graves, some dozen or more, have, we believe, never been disturbed. . ."

Source: Daily Alta California, 25 June 1861. 

"The Cemeteries of San Francisco. . .RUSSIAN GRAVE-YARD. A Russian war-ship came into the harbor once, and while here, a large number of her men died, and, as they belonged to the Greek Church, they could not be buried with either Catholics or Protestants, and they had a grave-yard of their own. It was upon the hill which is now called Russian Hill, because of the Russian graves and the Russian cross there. The cross was still standing in '49, or '50. There may have been thirty or forty graves in the Russian Cemetery."

Source: Daily Alta California, 22 July 1862.

"THE CITY’S DEAD. . .Another spot, selected at as early a date as 1842, was the eminence between Taylor and Jones streets, and north of Vallejo street. Here were buried several of the crew of a Russian vessel, stricken with some malarian disease, which occupation of the hill by them resulted in the name of Russian hill being applied to the spot. Not many additional burials were made there, however, as it as considered too inaccessible for funeral corteges, and in 1850 it was abandoned and the remains of those placed there were afterwards removed to other localities. . ."

Source: San Francisco Daily Evening Post. 16 November 1878.

"The First Two Official Hangings in San Francisco. . . .The first hanging authorized by law in San Francisco took place December 10, 1852. . . .The execution took place on Russian Hill, much to the indignation of the cemetery wherein, among others, rested the bones of Don Vicente Nunez. It was the oldest burying-place for the city. . . ."

Source: San Francisco Daily Examiner. 2 October 1887. 15.


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