It was the middle of the 19th Century when Colonel Thomas Baker, the man for whom Bakersfield is named, moved to Kern County and ultimately settled in what was then known as Kern Island. A prosperous lawyer, politician and businessman, he hand-selected this parcel of land as the place he wanted to “Lay my bones”.
Baker’s grave in 1872 marked the beginning of Union Cemetery, which for nearly a century-and-a-half has been the resting place of thousands of pioneers and settlers, Civil War soldiers, prominent local families, cowboys, farmers, bankers and builders, remarkable men and women who have shaped our community’s history.
“Union Cemetery” is so named because, in the late 1800’s, both the city of Bakersfield and the City of Sumner had old, neglected and rundown cemeteries. The newspaper complained about them so much that when Col. Baker was buried at the present location of Union Cemetery, the townspeople wanted that area to become the new cemetery. The County bought the property, and the name of Union Cemetery was adopted as the two cemeteries were united as one. We added “Historic” to the name in 2012 in recognition of history and heritage preserved here.
Union Cemetery is owned and managed by the Union Cemetery Association, a non-profit organization that has cared for this property continuously since 1904.