Now visitors with smartphones and tablets – or those who prefer paper – can locate their ancestors on our map and learn about them

About This Project

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) churchyard opened around 1677. Initially, it served as a burying ground for Swedish Lutheran settlers and their descendants. Over time, men, women and children who worked and lived near this church were also buried here. Some were veterans who fought in the American Revolution, War of 1812, the Civil War, and more recent battles such as World War II. Others were farmers, mariners, scientists, artists, merchants, bankers, com- posers, ministers, homemakers, students, and craftsmen. This churchyard has welcomed thousands of “permanent residents” during its 340 plus years of existence.

By 1790, the bucolic landscape that once surrounded Gloria Dei’s churchyard had developed into a wharf town. The 19th century saw a massive development of adjacent land for commercial purposes. In 1967, an elevated freeway was built directly to the west, increasing vehicular traffic in the area. This industrialization had a devastating impact on the churchyard, explains historian Jeanette Woehr. “A lot of the graves you can’t read anymore because acid rain has ruined the marble.” As a result, visitors often have difficulty locating their ancestors’ gravestones.

The Historic Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Preservation Corporation was formed in 2014 to help preserve and maintain the churchyard. Our first order of business involved assessing the conditions of the 540 gravestones that remain. The resulting report has helped us identify the markers in the worst shape and prioritize repairs.

What did we do about the tombstones that are no longer legible? We dug into our archives to identify them. After comparing several sources — an annotated plot map from the 1930s, various drafts of an inscription book dating to the 1870s, and several handwritten ledgers containing burial records — we were able to positively identify all but 16. We published these results in a comprehensive map that details plot numbers and the names of those interred. Hardcopies of this map are available for free in a box mounted at the front of the churchVisitors with smartphones can access an interactive version of the map on our website.

Support This Project

Your support helps us pay for printing costs and website maintenance. These tools make it possible for descendants and loved ones to find their ancestors’ gravesites.

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Our Supporters

Betsy Anderson

November 20, 2021

This map was very helpful! I am a descendant of Peter Gunnarsson Rambo and have been wanting to see this church for … Read more

This map was very helpful! I am a descendant of Peter Gunnarsson Rambo and have been wanting to see this church for many years. I'm so glad I finally made the trip. Keep up the good work.

Churchyard Map

Michael Garrison

November 12, 2021

Churchyard Map

rick rice

July 26, 2021

Churchyard Map

Wade Mcvey

October 28, 2020

My 5th great grand parents where married here. It was an honor to visit.

Churchyard Map

Nancy Wood

September 16, 2020

Churchyard Map

Cecilia Isaacs-Blundin

July 12, 2020

Thank you for the churchyard map – I was able to find my grandfather’s brother, William … Read more

Thank you for the churchyard map – I was able to find my grandfather’s brother, William Isaacs!

Churchyard Map

John DeBruicker

May 26, 2020

Churchyard Map

Rob O'Neill

March 7, 2020

Churchyard Map

Tameron Hodges

September 28, 2019

In honor of Wayne "Rambo" Ihrig

Churchyard Map

Peach Paulison

September 25, 2019

Churchyard Map

Amy Grant

September 10, 2019

Churchyard Map

Candace Roberts

June 20, 2019

Churchyard Map

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