We're exploring local history and hidden facts in our communities. ABC7 highlights extraordinary details in neighborhoods you may otherwise overlook.
Tucked away on a small, quiet street in Santa Monica Canyon is a cemetery that has been there much longer than the rows and rows of luxury homes surrounding it.
The Pascual Marquez Family Cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds in Los Angeles. The cemetery started in the 1840s on an 1839 Mexican land grant to Francisco Marquez and Ysidro Reyes, known as the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica.
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"The whole area was cattle ranches owned by land grant families," said Monica Marquez, a descendant of Pascual Marquez.
Pascual Marquez was the last man buried in the cemetery in 1916. ABC7 spoke with his grandson, Ernest Marquez, and his great-granddaughter, Monica Marquez. The family is determined to protect the land and continue preserving its history.
A plaque outside the landmark notes that "Francisco built the first permanent home in Santa Monica Canyon, and later established a family cemetery."
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The plaque also states that donations to the nonprofit La Señora Research Institute helped preserve the space. The nonprofit's website writes the Pascual Marquez Family Cemetery is "the oldest extant private cemetery in Los Angeles."
In 2000, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission recognized it as a historic-cultural monument.
The cemetery is also the site of a mass burial. On New Year's Eve of 1909, 13 family members died of botulism after eating canned peaches, including an infant who died of pneumonia after being left unattended near a window.
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Nearly 200-year-old Santa Monica cemetery has history dating back to cattle ranches
The Pascual Marquez Family Cemetery was established in the 1840s. It is one of the oldest burial grounds in Los Angeles.