Historic Chinese American Cemetery, San Jose, CA

Only a few historic sites remain from the early Chinese pioneers in Santa Clara County, California, and perhaps the most important of these is the Historic Chinese American Cemetery in San Jose.

Since Chinese were not allowed to be buried in other cemeteries, eight Chinese organizations were deeded the land for their own cemetery in 1900. The modest, 140-foot by 160-foot cemetery is located at Curtner Avenue near Monterey Road, next to Oak Hill Cemetery.

While the grave locations are unmarked, individual burial sites are identified by the name of the deceased on a burial plot map. Earlier cemetery rehabilitation revealed that no items of value were interred. The significance of the site is purely historical and cultural.

The cemetery contains a small altar consisting of a marble memorial stone set in brick. A tall square brick structure with a pyramidal roof served as a burner for paper offerings.

In 1980, the nonprofit South Bay Historic Chinese American Cemetery Corporation was established to hold title to the cemetery, to maintain it, and to educate the community concerning its signficance.

Currently, funding is earmarked for cemetery maintenance, including replacement of entrance gates that were stolen, new signage, and reconstruction of the altar. Long range plans include building a temple on the site and developing a sufficient endowment for ongoing maintenance.

To obtain more information, to volunteer, or to make a donation, contact Dennis Wan at dw.invest@worldnet.att.net for information.

See Also: Ching Ming: Grave-Sweeping Day