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History & Cemetery Layout Maps

History of the Old City Cemetery
of Vancouver, Washington, USA

An index (book) of the Old City Cemetery of Vancouver, Washington was compiled and finally printed in 1981. This first cemetery book by CCGS was compiled by Mildred E. Porter (now deceased), one of the founding members of the society. She was assisted in the huge chore by several members of CCGS. The following message from Mildred is included in an introduction in the book and much of it is included here for your information.

Introduction by Mildred E. Porter - 1981:
The first Fort Vancouver was built in 1824 by the Hudson Bay Company and named for the British Explorer George Vancouver and lying about one mile East of the now well known location. Nothing is known of where they buried their dead during this time. I have read that there was a cemetery just outside and North of the Hudson's Bay Compound, but have no idea if this was before or after 1829 when they built the now known and recorded Fort.

The responsibility of taking care of our departed seems to have always been a quickly passing ordeal. A sort of "Lets not dwell on this but get on with other things;" Our pioneers had so much to do in making a living, I wonder that they even had the time for burial. However if one were getting married, so many times there was at least an item in the newspapers and larger than most death notices. The minister kept records of marriages that he performed but seldom any burials. Our responsibility for good death records is gaining recognition but our governments are trying to cover them by closing the records to the public. So many burials now are by cremation without any recognition in cemeteries, thus the death certificate is all we will have. With no “Index" how will these records be found?

According to Carl Landerholm, the earliest burials were made within the present limits of Vancouver Barracks. In the 1860's there was a cemetery near the west boundary of the Post across Reserve Street from the Academy. As the state was building a road through this part of the Post, the graves would have to be moved. The city appointed Michael Wintler, G.W. Durgin and P. Buckley to search for a piece of ground for the purpose of a City Cemetery and finally purchasing ten acres of John Maney's Donation Land Claim, July I, 1867. Graves were moved from the Post to this ground and some were moved to the New Catholic Cemetery, to the Military Cemetery and some were even moved farther away.

In the summer of 1869 the city clerk was instructed to notify persons who had made use of the cemetery and had not payed for the lots, would have to pay within thirty days and in case of default the dead would be removed to Potter's Field. It has been told to me that graves there were placed side by side, very close, as in one solid grave in the NE Section and there are no records of these burials. There are many records with question marks as to grave or lot numbers, possibly some of these were those placed in Potters Field?

Please note that all records are recorded by humans, and as humans, errors are made. I do apologize for any errors I may have made and hope there are not too many. Looking for ancestors in other counties of Washington, I have tried to find Cemetery and Mortuary Records and am told there are none. It seems that cemeteries were kept by one man until he died and evidently he took the records with him! Something like this happened to records of an ancestor of mine, who was buried in Claquato Cemetery [Lewis County] as late as 1936. Because of this I appreciate and overlook any errors made in any records we have in Clark County and strive to make more accessible and more correct records for our descendants who will want to find where their ancestors lived and were buried.

Location map & section layout

North west section & Masonic Cemetery

North east section

South west section

South east section

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Some of our graphics
are from Rhio's Sampler.
Click above to go to her site.

Last modified on Sunday, March 08, 2009