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Pioneer Cemetery

Topsy turvy. Crack, tip, and topple. This is what happens to tombstones in an historic cemetery like the Pioneer Cemetery in San Lorenzo. The first burial of record there was in April of 1853. The property, now at the corner of Hesperian Boulevard and College Street, was originally owned by two local farmers, John Lewelling, for whom Lewelling Boulevard was named, and William Meek, the area’s largest landowner at the time.

Plots were initially quite expensive, but as time went by, heirs were difficult to locate, and plots began to crumble and be vandalized due to lack of maintenance. A solution came when ownership was taken over by Alameda County and upkeep maintained with the volunteer efforts of members of the Hayward Area Historical Society.

Many famous local names can be seen on the headstones, but perhaps the most poignant area of the cemetery is the area known as “Potters Field,” where indigent patients who died at Fairmont Hospital were buried in unmarked graves from 1920 to 1931. Now there is a wall listing their names and a plaque to those who restored this hallowed ground.