Welcome to the third installment of our series on cemeteries. In this series, we delve into the rich history embedded in burial grounds across Arizona. Cemeteries, we believe, are repositories of a community’s past, showcasing the stories of its original settlers, the impacts of conflicts, and the assimilation of diverse cultures and beliefs.
Childhood Rituals and Cultural Respect
From a young age, we learned the significance of honoring loved ones through proper burial practices. Our childhood memories involve respectfully laying to rest turtles, hamsters, parakeets, ducks, cats, dogs, and guinea pigs. As adults, we now find solace in strolling through burial grounds, absorbing the history, and observing variations in burial rites.
In our first two articles, we shared insights from various cemeteries, such as Pearce, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, and Oracle. Now, let’s explore more “giant libraries of stories” worth discovering.
Boothill Cemetery: A Historic Resting Place
Boothill Cemetery, also known as the Old City Cemetery, north of Allen Street in Tombstone, served as the burial ground between 1878 and 1884. This small graveyard holds about 250 graves, including those of diverse backgrounds — from former slaves to lawmen. Strolling through Boothill Cemetery reveals the history of the Wild West, with markers narrating tales of the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Evergreen Cemetery: A Historical Adventure
Situated on North Oracle Road in Tucson, Evergreen Cemetery is a treasure trove for history buffs. Gravesites include notable figures like Sam Hughes, Larcena Pennington Page, and Thomas Jeffords. Guided tours and maps provided by the cemetery’s office assist in navigating this historic graveyard, offering a deeper understanding of Arizona’s past.
Cook Memorial Church Cemetery: A Burnt Legacy
In Sacaton, we explored the Cook Memorial Church Cemetery, adjacent to an architecturally impressive church that unfortunately burned down in 2019. The cemetery, however, holds the graves of individuals like Matthew B. Juan and Colonel James Patton Perkins. Additionally, the Matthew B. Juan/Ira H. Hayes Veterans Memorial Park nearby pays homage to Native American veterans.
Henry Wickenburg Pioneer Cemetery: A View to the Past
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Henry Wickenburg Pioneer Cemetery offers a panoramic view of the area. The final resting place of Henry Wickenburg, discoverer of the Vulture Mine, and other prominent figures, this cemetery reflects the history of the gold rush era.
Hardyville Cemetery: Remnants of a Ghost Town
Situated on Route 95, Hardyville, now a ghost town, preserves its history through the Hardyville Cemetery. Piles of rocks mark the graves of former residents, telling the story of a community that thrived during its heyday.
Papago Park: A Tranquil Resting Place
Within Papago Park lies the tomb of George Wylie Paul Hunt, Arizona’s first governor. This tranquil memorial site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, provides a serene setting with benches for contemplation and a breathtaking view of Phoenix.
Bonita Cemetery in a Ghost Town
The Bonita cemetery, near the base of Mount Graham, is a well-kept burial ground with historic gravestones. It holds the grave of Frank Cahill, reportedly the first man killed by Billy the Kid (Henry McCarty).
Alto: Uninhabited Remnants
Alto, an uninhabited ghost town in the Santa Rita Mountains, preserves the remains of silver mining history. While the town has no living residents, the remnants of an adobe house and mining waste speak to the challenges of establishing a town in the late 19th century.
A Comprehensive Journey
In this series, we’ve covered a variety of burial grounds, each with its unique history. However, there are still numerous sites left unexplored, such as Arivaca, Continental, and many more.
Unveiling Arizona’s Burial Sites
Our exploration revealed 54 burial sites across Arizona, from large cemeteries to isolated graves in mining towns. Surprisingly, the Arizona Pioneers’ Cemetery Association lists a staggering 711 known burial sites in the state. The journey to unearth the stories within these grounds continues.
In Conclusion: A Call to Explore
Arizona’s burial sites offer a glimpse into the state’s diverse and rich history. We invite you to discover your favorite “giant library of stories” among these resting places, urging you to explore the beauty and historical significance embedded in Arizona’s varied landscapes.