Before Mountain View Cemetery

A brief history of Oakland's burial grounds prior to the opening of Mountain View Cemetery in 1865.

1. Oakland Cemetery, 1852-1857. The first Oakland cemetery was located at Eighth and Oak streets. This graveyard, known as the Oakland Cemetery was at the time a place outside of town "where visitors trod grassy but straight pathways leading along rows of wooden crosses that marked the graves of their friends and loved ones.(1)."

2. Webster Street Cemetery, 1857-1867. Detail of 1860 map showing location of Webster street cemetery
Oakland continued to grow, and in 1857 it was clear that a new burial ground was needed. Land was set aside in the area now approximately bounded by Webster, Harrison, Sixteenth and Eighteenth streets. Burials from the Oakland Cemetery were reburied in this new graveyard, known as the Webster Street cemetery. The image above shows an 1860 map marking the location of the Webster Street Cemetery.

It was hoped that this cemetery would be permanent, but Oakland continued to grow and domiciles continued to encroach upon the Webster street cemetery, until in 1863 town leaders decided upon the construction of Mountain View Cemetery in the Oakland hills. The last burial in the Webster Street cemetery was on 25 April 1867(2). Most of the bodies from the Webster street cemetery were disinterred and relocated either within Mountain View cemetery or within St. Mary's Cemetery (1) (which was established at approximately the same time as Mtn. View). However, as The Old Cemetery and A Ghastly Spectacle show, not all burials were relocated and some remain underneath Webster street to this day.

1. "Born of Need", The Oakland Tribune, 05 February 1961.

2. "A Ghastly Spectacle", The Oakland Tribune, 28 April 1877.