Salt Lake City

Public Lands Department

City Cemetery History

The Salt Lake City Cemetery was permanently established with the incorporation of Salt Lake City in 1851, although it began operations in 1849 and had its first burial in 1848. George Wallace, who at the time was a recently arrived pioneer, conducted that first burial in what would become the cemetery grounds: his young daughter Mary, who died in 1848. To accommodate the need for burials in the growing pioneer city, Brigham Young appointed a committee to acquire 20 suitable acres. Wallace offered his land and went on to become the inaugural sexton of the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

As sexton, Wallace was responsible for maintaining burial records, directing groundskeeping and maintenance, overseeing cemetery staff, and handling the finances of the cemetery. In its early years, the Salt Lake City Cemetery’s acreage and burials expanded alongside population growth in the Salt Lake Valley. Infrastructure such as irrigation, retaining walls, and roads were built on the grounds; the sexton’s house was constructed and, a few years later, redesigned; and an entrance gate was erected that remains standing to this day. These foundational activities, directed by 31 sextons beginning with George Wallace, have sustained the Salt Lake City Cemetery’s growth and development from its early years to the present day.

Many prominent, interesting and famous, and infamous individuals were instrumental in establishing building this great city of Salt Lake.

The cemetery is filled with some amazing trees that make up the urban forest that resides within its borders. This forest was started over 170 years ago, by individuals who looked to be good stewards for those who would come after them. We as caretakers and stewards are trying to carry on this stewardship by planting new trees so those who come after us can enjoy their beauty.

We hope you enjoy visiting this amazing jewel of the city.

“Cemeteries are for the living, come and visit often and enjoy what they have to offer!”