History | Saint Helena Cemetery Association
Saint Helena Cemetery grounds

St. Helena Cemetery History

Mr. William Hudson established this private family cemetery in 1856 with the burial of his wife Sarah Hudson. In 1872, daughter Mary Hudson McCormick, donated the original six acres for the purpose of a town cemetery. After a notice was posted in the local newspaper, the St. Helena Starr, citizens met at the town hall intending to form a cemetery association. On April 6, 1872, the election of a president, officers and board of trustees started the operation of Saint Helena Public Cemetery. The non-profit incorporation soon followed. After many years of donations and purchases, the cemetery property has grown to a beautiful 25 acres.

Interestingly little known facts:

  • The cemetery maintains many original handwritten records dating back to 1873.
  • Amazing genealogy information archived as old burial records recorded the cause of death and nativity.
  • In addition to the native trees, 200 trees were planted in the 1890's. Later during the 1970's, the cemetery board spent several thousands of dollars amassing a wide variety of deciduous and evergreen trees. Today, these species have created a true arboretum, displaying both rare and magnificently mature examples.
  • Over 14,000 individuals have been laid to rest.
  • Local lodges for the Odd Fellows, Masons, American Legion, Woodsman of the World and the Grand Army of Republic maintained burial plots for members.
  • Installed in 1933, the cemetery gate pillars were relocated from the St. Helena Grammar School.
  • Families of wealthier Chinese quicksilver workers had burial remains sent back to China in 1913. Later, a Sulphur Creek flood washed the remaining Chinese burial section away.
  • In the 1800's an individual gravesite cost $5.00.
  • Television series Falcon Crest and movies Patch Adams and Olly Olly Oxen Free filmed scenes on property.
  • One bride and groom choose the cemetery for their wedding site.
  • Deer eat roses, gophers make mounds, and trees have roots.

In 1956 the Secretary for the Association suggested to the Napa County Supervisors that the county purchase 2.022 acres adjacent to the cemetery for the purpose of indigent burials. The County Supervisors agreed. From 1956 to present, approximately 820 indigent burials were done in this section; 466 of these burials were from the Napa State Hospital. Today, the Saint Helena Cemetery is still responsible for the respectful burials of all Napa County indigent persons.

Today the Association works diligently to meet the needs of the future while maintaining the integrity of the past. The Board of Trustees consists of nine community members who meet quarterly to discuss the business and vision of the cemetery. Daily operational needs are met through one office manager, a grounds foreman and two grounds keepers. Each individual on this team takes great pride in maintaining the past, present and future of this historic landmark.


St. Helena Cemetery