The Historic Palmdale Cemetery is one of the few reminders of the early Palmdale settlement known as "Palmenthal." About 60 families of Swiss and German descent, predominantly from Nebraska and Illinois, settled in the area in 1886, and founded a Lutheran church. According to records, the Jonas family, one of the pioneer families who settled in Palmenthal, donated twenty acres of land to the church for a cemetery. For the next 120 years, two and a half acres of that land was used as an active cemetery, commonly referred to as the "Palmdale Cemetery."
By 1899, because of drought, land deed problems and competition from the growing community to the west nearer the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks known as "Harold," in the area now known as central Palmdale, all but one family had moved away from Palmenthal.
The cemetery continued to be used by settlers of both Palmenthal and Harold, and it gradually fell into disrepair. Palmdale pioneer families found in the cemetery include: Jonas, Nagel, Jones, Ritter, Munz, and Phillips. At some point during the mid-20th Century, it served as the final resting place of choice for the community of Palmdale. Locally familiar names such as Kimbrough, Leighter, Courson (the first honorary mayor of Palmdale), and Rogers can also be found amongst the graves. Media reports and testimony by the public revealed that the Palmdale Cemetery was closed to future burials on at least two occasions for failure to maintain adequate records. In 1979, the cemetery was closed by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. It was reopened in 1981 when the Palmdale Kiwanis accepted responsibility for record keeping but, according to the owner and the Palmdale Cemetery Preservation Team, was again closed to future burials in March 1999. The last burial of record is thought to be January 17, 2001, but that is somewhat in dispute, as the former property owner officially closed the Palmdale Cemetery to burials in March 1999. According to unofficial records there may be as many as 203 burials, with possibly 73 of them unmarked.
In January 2003, a Veterans Memorial was placed at the cemetery, with a monument, flagpole and night lighting for the flag. Annual Veterans Day and Memorial Day services are conducted at this monument, often with significant attendance at the event.
In 2008, the City of Palmdale erected a wrought iron fence around the cemetery to protect the gravesites and family plots from graffiti, trash and acts of vandalism. Additional improvements, such as additional parking and access, will occur in the future.