Santa Cruz County in 1858

The community would bury men, women and children from all walks of life.

Imus home with Evergreen Cemetery in the background.

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.

Hiram Imus Sr., is Traci Bliss’s 4th great grandfather and the patriarch of the extensive clan.

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)

The Restoration of Evergreen Cemetery, a 5-minute video, received the Santa Cruz Film Festival’s Spirit of Action Award in 2022.


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.



Frank Heath, together with marine artist Margaret Rogers, transformed the adventurous Jolly Daubers into the Santa Cruz Art League. As the organization’s first president in 1919, he agreed with Rogers that the Seabright Crafts Society building, donated to the city by Susan Tyrell, was the right venue for exhibitions as well as for artists supporting one another. Admirers of Heath’s work came from far and wide, and his one-man show at Mount Hermon’s Zayante Inn in 1921 was no exception. The Inn and surrounding cottages burned to the ground in April of that year, but Frank never learned of the catastrophic loss. Lillian couldn’t bear for her husband to know; he passed on from cancer a few days later. No family at Evergreen is so uniquely enshrined as the Heaths. Frank joined four relatives in the family’s well-secured vault just off the Glory Path. The artist’s own words provide a fitting epitaph: “Christian people should be above all things unselfish and patriotic, and their lives should be moved by the mighty principle to do right without regard to party politics.” The Santa Cruz Art League Frank Heath so selflessly inspired continues to thrive today, a century later.   

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.” 

The book includes detailed stories of other Santa Cruzans  who supported the Chinese by renting them  land or making it possible for them to learn English. Those prominent local men who were so adamantly anti-Chinese were  not buried at Evergreen Cemetery.

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.      

Judith Steen Collection

Popular Evergreen Cemetery Event

Every year hundreds of visitors pour into Evergreen for the Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Volunteer Opportunities

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