Santa Barbara County Hospital Cemetery

Cathedral Oaks Road
Goleta, Santa Barbara County, California

According to the Record of Deaths chronology in the Office of the County Recorder, 100 burials were made by the County in the “County Hospital Cemetery” which at that time was adjacent to the County Hospital, located on South Salinas Street in Santa Barbara City. This number of burials is borne out by Mrs. Bonilla’s observation in 1960 of five rows of headstones, each row having twenty graves. Even at that time, however, many of the headstones had been uprooted and thrown to one side, though the grave place was still plainly visible. The first burial occurred July 22, 1892; the last, April 3, 1904. On 62 headstones the names and dates were decipherable. On 20 headstones, the names were all or partially obliterated, though the dates and ages were decipherable.

Twelve headstones were entirely defaced. Six headstones were missing. From the fragmentary dates and ages remaining, the County Recorder, Rita van Buskirk, was able to supply the missing names for sixteen of the headstones. She searched the chronological files of deaths and found eighteen additional records of burials in this cemetery that matches the number of totally defaced and missing headstones. The list is complete, she assured. Two “Unknown” (man) items are shown, but these appear as such in the death records. The body of a man was found floating in the ocean, name unknown, and the other body of a man was found under similar circumstances.

Buried in this County cemetery are 95 men or boys and 5 women or girls. In age they range from a stillborn infant to a 102 year-old man. Causes of death, and occupations, are as varied as they would be in any heterogeneous group of 100 people.

Deeds registered in the County Recorder’s Office show that the County acquired title to the present General Hospital grounds in 1911 at a price of $30,000. The county proceeded to build the nucleus of the present General Hospital shortly thereafter. In 1915 the county entered into negotiations for the sale of the old County Hospital property located on Cacique and South Salinas Streets. The conveyance was finally completed in 1917 and it was in this year, according to Santa Barbara Historical Society records, that the “Hospital Cemetery” was moved to the northeast corner of the new hospital property. The remains of those buried there were encased in 2x2x2 redwood boxes at the time of transfer.

It appears that there is no record of a directive to any county agency for the maintenance and care of this transferred cemetery. As a result, it was first merely neglected. Then as the brush grew up around it, it was forgotten. After this portion of the property was leased to the Sportsmen’s Club, the headstones became splintered away by stray bullets during target practice; and successive generations of children re-discovered the old graveyard, to its detriment.

Gratitude is given to the Santa Barbara Historical Society, and in particular, to three of its members, Mr. And Mrs. A. A. Bonilla and Mrs. R. S. Tenny, who supplied so much data that made it possible to give names to the nameless who are buried there.

As a curious sidelight, horses belonging to the Billings Stables were buried in the old original graveyard, and the famous horse, Uhlan, is buried there.

The names, dates, and ages shown are as they appear in the Register of Deaths in the office of the Santa Barbara County Recorder.

Search Santa Barbara County Hospital Cemetery records at Find-a-Grave

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