Paso Robles District Cemetery
Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County

In August of 2010, SLOCGS was given permission by the Board of Directors of the Cemetery to photograph the Headstones in the Cemetery, we were also given a printed Index updated to 2010.

Our Thanks to the Board, the Cemetery Manager and the many helpful Grounds & Maintenance Staff.

Jan Canigiula & Martha Graham photographed all the headstones in this historic Cemetery. Due to other committments, the photographing of this Cemetery was accomplished over an extended period of time, thus new burials were added to the 2009 Index using the information gleaned from the headstones.

6721 Photos were taken of the Headstones.

The process of matching, correcting and updating the 2009 Index was a herculean task.
The following SLOCGS Members volunteered to work on the Project:
Dianna Curtis, Tom Gorham, Larry Houlgate, Michele Mc Caffrey, Rich Miller, Vickie Valenziano and Martha Graham

The Updated Index contains the records of 8464 Interments. There are a lot of unknown's in this Cemetery as well as Broken Stones, Rusted & Damaged Mortuary Markers and Unmarked Graves.

Every effort was made to investigate and correct errors. However, due to weathered stones, some dates were impossible to decypher. Where available records could be accessed, corrections were made and noted.

A word about the Columns on the Index:
Hdstn: Yes Indicates the presence of a headstone, a blank cell indicates none was found.
RG: Rose Garden, Scattering Area
Name, Date of Birth & Date of Death
Grave, Lot, Plot, Section
Headstone Notes: Contains Military Information, Miscellaneous Information regarding Condition of Stone, etc.
Transcribers Notes: Additions, Corrections, Age, Other Information

The 2012 Index can be found here in searchable pdf format.

A map of the Cemetery can be found here.
Headstone Images are available as an attachment to an email.




The following information was taken from material prepared by Martin Kuehl for the First Annual (1999) Heritage Cemetery Tribute.  The information is used here by permission of the author.

The oldest cemetery in town was started by Drury James on Chestnut Street between 14th and 15th Streets.  But, as the town grew Drury James purchased 15 acres from the Blackburn's and established his cemetery (on the land purchased from the Blackburn's). 


The acreage was on a hill top known as Villa Lot 55, with entrance off Mountain Springs Road, and was called The Drury James Cemetery.  It is now the westerly part of the present Cemetery.  Since the first map of Paso Robles was filed in 1889, the date would be after that.  James then sold his 15-acre cemetery to R. C. Heaton and the cemetery thereafter was known as the Heaton, or Pioneer Cemetery, at least until 1922 when Heaton deeded it to the Catholic Church.


As few, if any, records were kept, or can be located, very little is known about this portion of the Cemetery’s activity during the early years.  We do know that the oldest date noted is 1873 on one of the grave markers, but this marker was probably moved from another place.  Another old marker in the pioneer section is dated 1887 and the tallest is dated 1888 and marks the grave of a native of France.  Some of the oldest markers are no longer there, as they were just rocks, which were later moved, or wooden markers long since rotted away.


Meanwhile, in January 1892, the Santa Lucia Lodge #350 of the I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows Lodge) had the lower portion of the current Cemetery, Villa Lot 54, with entrance off Adelaide Road, surveyed.  They purchased these 18 acres from Drury James.  In July 1892, permanent records of gravesites and burials commenced with the purchase of Lot 54 by the I.O.O.F. Lodge.  The first recorded burial was a Mrs. B. Mott.  Although the grave is not marked, it is right behind the chapel.


In those early years cemeteries only provided the ground for burials but little upkeep.  So by tradition and necessity the families took responsibility for the care of the family plots, weeding, raking, decorating and repairing wooden markers and fences.

As previously stated, R. C. Heaton deeded his 15 acres to the Catholic Church in 1922.  During the 1920’s, the upper cemetery was known as the Catholic or Holy Cross Cemetery to the South, the Pioneer or Heaton Cemetery to the North, and the Odd Fellows Cemetery to the East side.


In 1930, the Odd Fellows permitted Charles Phenegar, a casket salesman, to erect the original 16-space Mausoleum, now the center portion of the Mausoleum.  And in 1934, Rev. Charles Thackeray of the Episcopal Church was the first burial there.  Incidentally, Rev. Thackeray was one of the originators of Pioneer Day.


In the 30’s, Otto Kuehl, the local mortician (and author’s Father) became aware that the job of running a cemetery was becoming too much for the lodge.  He and other concerned townsmen formed a committee to look into forming a Cemetery District to oversee, operate and provide funds for the upkeep of the Cemetery.  In April of 1937, Will J. Erickson, of the Geneseo School District, coordinated and filed petitions signed by the registered voters in the school districts of inside and outside Paso Robles, Oak Flat, San Marcos, Encinal, Union, Geneseo and Phillips with the County of San Luis Obispo.  Thereafter, the Cemetery was designated a Public Cemetery District organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of California, under the State Act dated March 6, 1909.


In July of 1937, the first meeting of the Paso Robles Public Cemetery District was held. The County Supervisors appointed the first three board members.  They were:

Mat Iversen, Chairman of the Board

Alfred A. Rowe, Vice Chairman

Otto Kuehl, Secretary


Also, in July 1937, a lease with option to purchase was signed for one year between I.O.O.F. and the new Paso Robles Cemetery District.  The Board then hired the first Sexton, Mr. L. H. Parkins.  The transfer of title of the Odd Fellows Cemetery became final in September 1938.  For the first full year of operation, 1938-39, the total budget for the new District was $5,700.


In 1942, the Catholic Cemetery was deeded to the Cemetery District and in 1945 the Heaton Pioneer Cemetery was also deeded to the District at last combining all three Cemeteries into one.  All through this time, the late 30’s and 40’s, many improvements and upgrades occurred with the use of a caretaker’s house, maintenance buildings, the first lawn planted, the grounds tended and a lily pond established.


In the 1960’s the caretaker’s house was demolished and the current office building was constructed.

In the 1970’s the entry gates were constructed and additional lawn gravesites were installed.


The 1980’s saw the construction of the open air Chapel with three banks of cremation niches added to the Chapel.  The original 16 space Mausoleum was expanded to include 56 new spaces.


The 1990’s saw the addition of the Memorial Rose Garden; complete with ornamental fencing and walkways, beautiful stained glass windows in the Chapel, and the installation of a complete new irrigation and pumping system.


The most recent improvement is the new lawn grave area in part of the old Heaton Pioneer Section, complete with a loop road, sidewalk and benches.


Since 1937, there have been 21 persons serving on the Cemetery District Board.  From the original three members the board has now been increased to five Board Members.  In addition to the Board Members there is a diligent group of caretakers and employees taking exceptional care of our Paso Robles Cemetery.


Rosie Flynn, Sextant of the Paso Robles Cemetery from 1988 to present (2006), provided the additional historical information about the cemetery:


During the 1897-1900 timeframe, remains were moved from the Original James Cemetery on Chestnut Street in Paso Robles to the current Paso Robles Cemetery location.


When Fort Hunter Leggett was established, a few remains from the Plato [Pleyto?] and Lockwood Cemeteries were moved to the Paso Robles Cemetery.


Over the years, additional remains have been moved from the Estrella area and “country” gravesites to the Paso Robles Cemetery.

June 2006


All of the photos and databases that are contained on this site and in linked directories are watermarked and are the property of SLOCGS [San

 Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society, POB 4, Atascadero,  San Luis Obispo, California]. The headstone photos may be used for personal genealogical purposes and none other.

Site Updated: 31 October 2015

This Site belongs to the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society