What Historical Cemeteries Can I Visit from Clear Lake Campground?
Cemeteries are everywhere you go and they're often interesting and peaceful places to explore. They're full of history and often are home to birds and other wildlife, such as deer. Lake County cemeteries are rarely crowded so it's easy to find some solitude. Early settlers are buried in several of our cemeteries so they're a good place to discover some Lake County history.
Lower Lake Cemetery and Pioneer Cemetery
Herndon Cemetery, also known as Pioneer Cemetery was started in 1856 by Nathaniel Herndon for his family and friends. The Herndon family was part of the Copsey wagon train that arrived in Lower Lake from Missouri in 1854. Copsey family members were buried in Herndon Cemetery as well as members of the Hale and Grigsby families. George Patch, the last known traditional leader and shaman of the Koi Tribe (part of the Pomo Nation) was also buried here.
Herndon Cemetery later became a community cemetery and many early settlers were buried there. 29 of its burials were moved to the Lower Lake Cemetery in the early 1900's. These older tombstones can be found toward the back of Lower Lake Cemetery on the right side of the main road. Some of the burials still in Herndon Cemetery had only wooden markers or crosses that have since worn away and no formal records were kept so its not known how many burials still remain or the names of all the people who were buried there. 8 members of the original Herndon family are confirmed to be buried in Pioneer Cemetery, one of whom died in 1858 at 13 years of age, and 2 members of the Copsey family, including an infant girl named Alice. Although most of the tomb stones are gone, it's an interesting place to wander around.
Lower Lake Cemetery: 9040 Lake St, next to Lower Lake Elementary School
Pioneer Cemetery: 9022 Stagecoach Lane off Big Bear Road, 3 miles from Camp.
See Herndon Cemetery for a list of people known to be buried there.
Lake County Historical Society has a page about Herndon Cemetery restoration with a few photos.
In 1889, land for the cemetery was donated by William Good, a blacksmith. This new cemetery was owned by the Odd Fellows Lodge. Previous burials from the small cemetery at Fiege Ranch and Rabbit Hill were transferred there. 18 veterans of the Civil War and one from the Spanish American War are buried here.
Middletown Cemetery: 16357 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown, about 20 minutes from Camp
Middletown History Cemetery page
Kelseyville Cemetery and Pioneer Cemetery
Kelseyville Pioneer Cemetery, in use from 1861-1884, has about 100 graves of early pioneer families, although some of them are unmarked. Early settlers buried here include members of the Benson, Crowell, Gard, Kelsay, Kelsey, Nobles and Piner families. In 1884 the Odd Fellows Cemetery, now Kelseyville Cemetery, opened and some burials were relocated to it.
Kelseyville Cemetery: 3375 Bell Hill Road, Kelseyville, about 20 minutes from Camp
Kelseyville Pioneer Cemetery: 4830 Renfro Drive, Kelseyville (temporarily closed in summer, 2020)
List of names buried in Pioneer Cemetery
Named for Henry Hare Hartley, the cemetery in Lakeport opened around 1860 as the Masonic Cemetery. Henry Hare Hartley was an attorney who would have become the Grand Master of Masonic Lodges in California but he died of a heart attack at age 41 in 1868. He's buried in Sacramento but the cemetery was renamed in his memory.
Hartley Cemetery: 2552 Hill Road E, Lakeport, about half an hour from Camp
Upper Lake Cemetery
Although Upper Lake Cemetery was established in 1855, the oldest tombstone is dated 1849. Some older, unmarked burials may also be here. It's said that the Pomo Indians used to cremate their dead in this area prior to the arrival of white settlers. The oldest part of the cemetery is on the east side of Clover Valley Road.
Upper Lake Cemetery, 780 Clover Valley Road, Upper Lake, about 40 minutes from camp
Image: A Copsey family tombstone in Lower Lake Cemetery, one of the burials moved from Pioneer Cemetery.