Lompoc Cemetery District, Lompoc
About Lompoc Cemetery District, Lompoc
In 1875, the Lompoc Valley Land Company deeded a 10-acre parcel of land to be used as a cemetery. An earlier graveyard, located near the Santa Ynez River adjacent to present Highway 246 was abandoned in November of 1875 in favor of the new location high above the valley. One can only assume that the graveyard’s proximity to the river and frequent flooding resulted in the decision for relocation. The original graveyard was offered for sale and, in December 1875, it was requested that anyone interred in that location be removed to the new cemetery. The first official death, funeral, and burial in Lompoc was that of Lydia Peck, first wife of Orson Peck on July 4, 1875. She was interred in the original cemetery and later moved to the present site where she rests alongside her husband of 40 years and his other four wives. John Lowe dug the first grave in the new cemetery for the baby of a “grass widow.” In early 1876, one and a half acres in the southwest corner of the new cemetery was donated to Father McNally, to be reserved for a Catholic cemetery. It was not until May 17, 1880, after the property was surveyed, that the southwest quarter of the cemetery was actually donated to the Catholic Church. Other sections were eventually dedicated to Hispanic and Asian pioneers, as well as the IOOF and American Legion. On July 27, 1880, the Lompoc Valley Land Compan conveyed an additional 11.24 acres to the cemetery board for a public burial place for the dead. It wasn’t until 1961 that the cemetery district purchased two additional parcels from the Johns-Manville Product Corporation, adding 6.15 acres to the site.
In 1941, William Martin received a grant deed to a portion of the cemetery. In 1960, he surrendered the deed to the cemetery superintendent with the stipulation that unused gravesites in that area be used for the interment of bodies of people who had insufficient funds to cover burial costs. By 1973, all of the sites had been used. Until 1952, when city drilled wells and pumps became available, the cemetery had no landscaping, and grass only grew during the rainy season. Electricity was introduced to the site in 1967. The caretaker’s structure, which was built in 1925, had no heat or light for 22 years.
Cemeteries are interesting links to history. One can spend hours strolling through Evergreen Cemetery reading interesting epitaphs on the ornate monuments. Many of Lompoc’s founding pioneers are buried on the hill, with their intricately carved headstones providing a glimpse into the past.