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Pechanga Tribal Cemetery
Pechanga Rd. off County Rd. S 16, just S of the intersection with Hwy. 79 (at Rancho California).
Riverside County
California  USA

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Cemetery notes and/or description:
aka: Temecula Massacre Burial Site

Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians

From the
"As many as 100 Luiseno warriors who fought in a local battle of the Mexican-American War more than a century and a half ago are believed to be buried in ancient burial grounds on the Pechanga Indian Reservation."

Chief Pablo Apis is also likely buried here.

"The Luiseno dead are buried in a local burial ground located on Pablo Apis's rancho, near Temecula Creek."

Two Temecula Cemeteries

Temecula is home to two historic cemeteries. Both have an interesting history, and each of them is connected to the larger story of the Temecula Valley.

The Temecula Graveyard is located near Apis and Wolf Store roads, and now protected by a high fence.

The Temecula graveyard had its beginnings in the "Temecula Massacre" of 1847. Though casualty figures vary, it was by all accounts the deadliest single battle of the Mexican War in California.

The battle was culmination of a string of events that began with Mexican resistance to American take-over of California in 1846. Several battles occurred between U.S. and Mexican forces, and eventually the Indian population began to take sides.

In December, 1846, shortly after the American defeat at San Pasqual, a group of Luiseño Indians under the command of Manuelito Cota and young Pablo Apis attacked a group of Californios on the Pauma Ranch, on the west side of Palomar Mountain, killing nearly a dozen of them. Some of the Indian forces then moved to the hills between Temecula and Aguanga.

In retaliation, José del Carmen Lugo enlisted the help of Juan Antonio, a powerful leader of the Cahuilla Indians, who set up a clever ambush in the Vail Lake area, which led to a running fight back towards Aguanga. Lugo later said that about one hundred Indians were killed. Juan Antonio was left in charge of the prisoners and, according to Lugo, killed them all.

"I reproached him for these acts of cruelty," Lugo later recalled, "and he answered me very coolly, that he had gone to hunt and fight and kill Indians who kill him; that he was sure that if they caught him they would not have spared his life but would have burned him alive."

With so many dead, the Temecula Indians started a new graveyard, across the creek from the village. "The battle of Temecula," pioneer Southern California historian Benjamin Hayes later noted, "- they made a new grave yard, to bury their relations slain in this battle by the Cahuillas, under Juan Antonio."

When the Mormon Battalion passed through Temecula in late January, 1847, they found the people still burying their dead. Burial was a Catholic custom, introduced by the missionaries. When the Spanish arrived in 1769, the Indian of Southern California cremated their dead.

The graveyard is thought of today as an Indian cemetery, but there is evidence that it was later used and improved by the other local residents. In May, 1867, the San Bernardino Guardian reported:

"TEMECULA. - We understand the citizens in locality set on foot a subscription, from the proceeds of which they enclosed the graveyard with a neat and substantial fence. A very creditable proceeding certainly."

Hardly the way most people wrote about Indians in 1867. Nor would one expect the villagers to raise money by subscription. If they had wanted a wall, they simply would have built it.

In his account of the Temecula Massacre, historian Horace Parker quotes a letter from a Catholic priest (probably Father José Mut) to his Bishop in June, 1867, who notes:

"...they have fenced the cemetery which will be five or six hundred feet square, with a wall of adobe, well boarded door and all arranged nicely. I would wish that your Excellency would grant me the authority to bless it, if you would judge it opportune. They have many and great desires to have it blessed, and I believe that it is suitable because it is in reality worthy of it...."

Unfortunately, the quote does not make it clear just who "they" were. By 1890, the adobe wall around the cemetery was already in ruins. The line of it is just barely visible today.

For many years, a single tombstone stood in the graveyard - "George Cuishman, Died April 20, 1882, Aged 56 years." Indian author Gordon Johnson reports that Cuishman had apparently married an Indian woman from Temecula, and his descendants lived at Pechanga in later years.

With no other cemetery in the Temecula Valley in the 1860s and ‘70s, simple necessity may have led to the joint use of the Temecula graveyard. But that was about to change.

The Temecula Valley Cemetery is located at the north end of C Street, above Santiago Road. It was apparently established in the late 1880s (the earliest surviving tombstone today dates to 1894). The land was a gift from the owner of the Rancho Temecula.
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Pechanga Tribal Cemetery
Added by: Stevan Rich
Pechanga Tribal Cemetery
Added by: Stevan Rich
Pechanga Tribal Cemetery
Added by: Stevan Rich
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