Santa Cruz County in 1858
The community would bury men, women and children from all walks of life.
The Restoration of Evergreen Cemetery, a 5-minute video, received the Santa Cruz Film Festival’s Spirit of Action Award in 2022.
Created in 1858, the Evergreen Cemetery provided a final resting place for a multitude of Santa Cruz’s adventurers, entrepreneurs and artists. The land was a gift from the Imus family, who’d narrowly escaped the fate of the Donner Party more than a decade earlier and had already buried two of their own.
By giving seven plus acres with neighbor James Prewitt donating an acre and a half, the family ensured the area would remain protected. Moreover, they wanted the bustling village to have a permanent cemetery open to all. When Hiram Imus and his wife Ruth crossed the plains in 1849, he was seventy-nine. Venerated as the oldest Mason in California, he lived well into his nineties.
Alongside these pioneers, the community buried many other notables, including London Nelson, an emancipated slave turned farmer who left his land to the city schools, and journalist Belle Dormer, who covered a visit by President Benjamin Harrison and the women’s suffrage movement.
Join Traci Bliss and Randall Brown as they bring to life the tragedies and triumphs of the diverse men and women interred at Evergreen Cemetery.
Photos courtesy of Museum of Art & History (MAH)
Frank Heath, featured in Evergreen Cemetery of Santa Cruz, inspired dozens of Santa Cruz artists in the early 1900s. This landscape shows his fluid style. Lillian Heath, an exceptional artist in her own right, worked in a variety of mediums. The Heaths’ life together and her inspiring story of unshakeable faith and generosity are detailed in Chapter 8: Creative Hub. Two of her original paintings, from private local collections, are included with the text.
Photo: Courtesy of Ontario County Museum, New York
Eliza Bull Boston
Eliza Boston accomplished much for the residents of Santa Cruz in the Victorian era. As a widow, she rented her extensive property to the Chinese.
Columnist Ernest Otto was effusive: “No garden spot could be prettier, and from sunrise to sunset the industrious Chinese continued their work on the land almost from High to King Street.… The Chinese gardeners also raised choice blackberries, raspberries, and gooseberries. In the creek the Chinese grew special delicacies for themselves, such as a water chestnut bulb much used in preparing Chinese dishes.…The Chinese lived in unpainted cabins with…sheds for delivery wagons and horses.” Because the Chinese lived on her land, Boston had frequent contact with them. In response to the rising tide of animosity from the “Chinese Must Go” movement, one night she brought several of them into her home on Davis Street. They wanted to know if she was fearful, and she instantly responded, “A woman’s tongue and broomstick are a match for any mob.”
Historic Perry House
In the 1920’s, Charles and Della Perry served as dedicated Evergreen volunteers, a tradition that continues a century later. They lived in this house on Escalona Drive, designed by Charles’ architect father John. Today, this beautifully preserved home is one of our city’s historic landmarks. John, Charles, and Della are buried in plot 141.
Popular Evergreen Cemetery Event
Every year hundreds of visitors pour into Evergreen for the Dia de los Muertos celebration.
Join dedicated Evergreen volunteers any Friday from 9:30-noon. Dogs invited. In regular times lunch is provided, during Covid please bring your own lunch. Evergreen volunteers invite your help researching more stories. Work at your own computer with good guidance. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.