Directions: This is off of San Pasqual Valley Rd. past the Wild Animal Park & the Battlefield and in the same parking lot as the Archaeological museum which is on the left-hand side.
In the center of a metal pipe fence stands a pepper tree surrounded by twenty-four crosses and one stone grave marker. An adobe wall once enclosed this graveyard, and in the center stood a large wooden cross with a red heart painted between the arms. Now adjacent to Highway 78, and a schoolyard, this burial ground dates back prior to the Europeans’ intrusion into the San Pasqual Valley.
The remaining cross markers, both of wood and concrete, bear no names or dates. Perhaps they did at one time. The one conventional stone marker reads:
Andres A. Alvarado
One of the crosses may mark the grave of Felicita La Chappa, the daughter of Pontho, the last herditary chief of the San Pasqual Indians. Felicita died in 1911, and was buried at this cemetery. Having lived over one hundred years, she saw the influx of European settlers. She witnessed the Battle of San Pasqual, and also the exodus of her own people.
The settlers buried their dead in a variety of places in San Pasqual, while the Indians continued to use their traditional ground. At times bones of their ancestors would accidentally be unearthed during preparations for another burial. With two sticks, the exposed bones would be lifted out, set aside until the completion of the new burial, then replaced with the covering of the grave.
With the introduction of Christianity, the San Pasqual Indians adjusted their burial customs. Funeral ceremonies developed new traditions. One involved a series of pistol shots: three when the person died, three during the body’s trip from home to the chapel, three from the procession from the church to the cemetery, and three as the casket was lowered into the grave.
Tradition lives on. In the fall, the Indians clear the weeds from the cemetery. In November, they burn candles on the graves for All Souls Day—a Christian tradition.