online book
Xavier Timoteo Martinez
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



Mexican War
World War II
Chicano Movement

Historic Sites
Selected References


A History of Mexican Americans in California:

Pilarcitos Cemetery
Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County

The Pilarcitos Cemetery in Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County, is currently overgrown with weeds and bushes. The gravesites, with cracked tombstones and mining markers, are in disrepair. The abandoned cemetery was also the site of the Church of Nuestra Senora del Pilar. The cemetery, in use from 1820 to 1923, was established by priests from Mission Dolores.

The Catholic Church established Pilarcitos Cemetery on its Tierra de Corral rancho lands in 1820 as the burial ground of Christianized Indian people and others who died in the coastal area between Villa de Branciforte (Santa Cruz) and San Francisco. With secularization of the missions in the 1830s, Tiburcio Vasquez's portion of the Tierra del Corral grant included the land on which Pilarcitos Cemetery was located.

When San Benito was founded in the 1840s, Pilarcitos became the pueblo's cemetery. San Benito's original founders and many of their descendants, as well as the early Mexicano and Chileno settlers who came to San Benito, are buried in Pilarcitos.

In 1854, Tiburcio Vasquez donated land for a church. The original Church de Nuestra Senora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) was built at the old cemetery. Jesuit priests traveling the long way from Santa Clara served the church and the community. The church was destroyed by fire in 1876 and later rebuilt at another location.

After the arrival and settlement of Anglos in the community, the International Order of Odd Fellows built another cemetery on three acres of land immediately adjacent to Pilarcitos Cemetery. The two cemeteries are distinguishable by the names on the headstones and by the styles of the grave markers.

With few exceptions, Spanish-surnamed people are buried in the original Catholic/San Benito section of Pilarcitos. Now abandoned, the two cemeteries, collectively called Pilarcitos, were the town's burial ground until 1923. The Catholic/San Benito portion of the cemetery reflects the pueblo's Mexican/Californio origin and the continued presence of Mexicanos in this coastal community.

Pilarcitos Cemetery
Pilarcitos Cemetery, Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County

NEXT> Plaza de la Raza/Lincoln Park

online book Top

Last Modified: Wed, Nov 17 2004 10:00:00 pm PDT

ParkNet Home