The first Christian cemetery in the Santa Clara Valley was founded by the same Franciscan Padres who founded Mission Santa Clara de Asis in 1777. As the population of the valley grew, the tiny cemetery filled. Within the space of fifty years the church of Mission Santa Clara changed locations 4 times. With each church there came a new cemetery, ending with the cemetery at the fourth site on today's campus of Santa Clara University.
By 1851, when Santa Clara College was founded, the Jesuit Fathers realized that the old cemetery near the Mission was filled. The new site they selected was within a few minutes’ walk from the Mission and was located near the small Adobe home of Don Fernando Berryessa. This is the current location of Santa Clara Mission Cemetery-at the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Bellomy Street.
To walk through the older areas of the cemetery is to travel through nearly 165 years of history. At Santa Clara Mission Cemetery there repose many early Santa Clara Valley pioneers; Spaniards, Mexican, Americans, and others of rich and varied ethnic backgrounds. Included are Pedro de Saisset (French Vice-Consul, businessman and philanthropist),Triburcio Vasquez (known as the "Robin Hood Bandit"), Antonio Maria Pico (three times Alcalde of San Jose), Myles Poore O'Connor (lawyer, judge and philanthropist) and Peter Burnett (the first Governor of California).
Today, Santa Clara Mission Cemetery continues to serve the community in the tradition of the Franciscan padres. Owned and operated by the Jesuit Fathers of Santa Clara University, Santa Clara Mission Cemetery averages 800 dispositions per year offering ground burial, entombment, and inurnment options. In a highly competitive industry surrounded by deathcare conglomerates, Santa Clara Mission Cemetery remains a community resource committed to good governance of our rich history, caring for the departed, and providing support and assistance to those who have lost loved ones.
The Varsi Chapel and Mausoleum
The first underground mausoleum in the valley.
Famed as the "Robin Hood" bandit
Pioneer California philanthropist
Three times Alcalde of San Jose
Prime mover in building the Electric Tower in San Jose
Lawyer and the first Governor of California
One of the founders of the Santa Clara County Agricultural Society
A dashing "man-about-town"
Controversial preacher in 19th century California