An era ended this month at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, when the last unclaimed niche was filled and the historic burial ground for U.S. veterans effectively closed to newcomers.

The beautiful and iconic site on Point Loma officially became a national cemetery in 1934, in part because of demand created by legislation that increased the number of people eligible for burial in national cemeteries.

But even before that, America’s war dead were laid to rest there.

In 1882, remains of 19 American soldiers killed in the Battle of San Pasqual — part of the U.S.-Mexico dispute over California — were reburied on the Point Loma peninsula.

A hundred years later, the San Diego chapter of the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West moved a boulder from the original battlefield to Rosecrans to mark the soldiers’ gravesite.

Altogether, an estimated 112,000 people have remains at Fort Rosecrans, either in graves marked by orderly rows of low, white stones or ashes in a wall niche.

They include 23 Medal of Honor recipients and 57 American troops killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Fort Rosecrans is a noteworthy cemetery in another way: Its director lives on-site, in a house called a “lodge.” Only the United States’ older national cemeteries — and there aren’t many — also contain a lodge.

Director Doug Ledbetter lives at Fort Rosecrans with his wife, Kristal, and their three children, Taylor, Abi and Gabe.

It’s a snug little cottage, with a few drawbacks — virtually no Internet or cellphone reception, and the kids’ friends at first felt a little strange about coming for sleepovers.

But Kristal Ledbetter said it’s a great honor to be living among the veterans and teaching her children about them.

The lodge is just yards away from Fort Rosecrans’ main area for services.

Kristal Ledbetter, a stay-at-home mother, said she hears taps played on a regular basis. Sometimes, the mournful bugle call still makes her tear up.

Living at the cemetery, the Ledbetters get to know certain visitors.

Doug Ledbetter said it’s not uncommon at both Fort Rosecrans and Miramar National Cemetery for spouses to come on an almost daily basis to sit at a gravesite. Some of those visitors are especially memorable.

One young widow who was visibly pregnant would come lay next to her husband’s headstone. After awhile, she came back — now with her baby.

“It’s real, and what we do matters,” said Doug Ledbetter, who has worked for the National Cemetery Administration for 18 years, starting off as a groundskeeper.

When he came to San Diego, he knew Fort Rosecrans would soon reach its ultimate capacity.

It already had been closed to most new casketed burials since 1966.

But ashes were accepted until May 6, when the last niche was filled by Mary Rossa Luzar, widow of a U.S. airman whose bomber was shot down over the Pacific in 1945.

Now the focus shifts to Miramar National Cemetery, located at the western tip of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. The new cemetery began accepting cremated remains in November 2010 and casket burials in April 2011.