Pioneer Grove Cemetery

Located within the 60 acre Old Sacramento City Cemetery at the intersection of Broadway and Riverside Boulevard, land was purchased by the Sacramento Pioneer Association on October 1, 1862, to provide a burial place for their deceased members and families in remembrance and to never forget their place in history. In order to obtain a plot in the cemetery, one had to be a member of the Association which was restricted to those who had arrived in California before 1850.

In 1878, the Pioneers made the center of their property a grand mausoleum and burial place for Mark Hopkins. Today, the large Mausoleum is the architectural focus of Pioneer Grove and a renowned landmark within the 60 acre Old Sacramento City Cemetery.

Due to the annual flooding that had become such a problem in the city of Sacramento, burial sites were restricted to areas of higher ground in the city. In 1861, the Sacramento Pioneer Association decided to buy their own burial land in what was then the “New City Cemetery” which was situated on some of the highest ground in the southern outskirts of Sacramento. Over subsequent years, additional land was added through purchases, plot trades with the city of Sacramento and a large property gift from Mrs. Margaret Crocker, widow of E. B. Crocker, in 1880. The Association currently refers to the two acre park-like setting as Pioneer Grove due to an abundance of lush vegetation and mature trees.

Photo by Tim Walton

The entire Old Sacramento City Cemetery, including Pioneer Grove, is governed by the “December 2007 Sacramento Historic City Cemetery Master Plan.” The preservation plan assures a smooth transition to meet current day need while retaining a role as a cultural and historic community resource as a living time capsule.

A handful of Association volunteers currently make-up the Pioneer Grove Maintenance Committee to oversee day-to-day care of the grounds. Over the last 150 years weather, pollution and vandals have taken their toll on the stone walkways, brick walls and headstones within the cemetery. The Maintenance Committee has restored much of the stonework to its original appearance and design. The Committee is totally self-funded through donations from Association members and a perpetual trust fund. It does not receive any financial assistance from city taxes or government funding.

In 2001, Association members Carol Doersch, Carolyn Johnson, Mead Kibbey, Robert Livingston and Joan Kibbey Taylor compiled anecdotal biographies about many of the persons buried in Pioneer Grove and published these in a 151 page book titled, Gone to Rest. The title derives from a newspaper clipping about a departed Pioneer. Their adventurous stories are colorful, sometimes poignant and form a record of the founding citizens and development of Sacramento from a frontier town to a center of agriculture and government.

Robert Kibbey Taylor – May 2014