The Santa Barbara Cemetery came into being on July 10, 1867. The men who signed the incorporation document were Charles Enoch Huse, Roswell Forbush, Reverend Joseph A. Johnson, Reverend Thomas R. Williams, N.C. Adams, Nelson W. Winton, and S.T. Maxfield. The document was signed at N.C. Adams's hotel.
Conceptually, the newly formed board appears to have been following the New Haven Burial Ground model. They formed as a nonsectarian, nonprofit association, with lot ownership the only requirement for membership in the association. The association was eventually to be governed by a board elected by the lot-holders. The Santa Barbara Cemetery would begin as a town cemetery, fulfilling a direct community need, proceeding with neither aesthetic considerations, a profit motive, nor much attention to longevity.