Pueblo County, Colorado
Pioneer Cemetery

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Page contributed by Karen Mitchell.
The following photos were all taken by Mr. Kelling and contributed to the Pueblo County website. They are included here to give the researcher a visual of this historic cemetery.

If anyone can add to this listing, or identify the unknown stones, please contact me, Karen Mitchell, at kmitchweb@gmail.com

Cemetery gates

Northeast gate

Overall view

Facing east from center

Facing east from center

Facing south

Facing Southeast

Facing south towards the school

Facing west

Facing northwest

Facing Northwest

Northwest view

Facing northeast towards hill

Facing north towards hill

Facing north

Northeast corner



Park monument

Restoration sign

Unmarked graves plaque

Monument plaque

Monument plaque

Military plaque

Colorado Daily Chieftain, August 31, 1873 HOW WE BURY OUR DEAD.
A Subject to be Generally Considered.

EDITOR CHIEFTAIN: - Some things that would be tolerated in a town of two to five hundred inhabitants are simply a shame and disgrace to a city of nearly four thousand people. A matter that in the former would pass unnoticed is sure in the latter to be a subject of severe criticism.

We have in Pueblo a cemetery. Its condition is to-day a disgrace to the city, the inhabitants thereof, and to common decency. It is a cactus prairie, daily visited by stock, and trampled over by herd and herder. It is a hunting place for rabbits and a grazing place for horses and cows. A few posts which an engineer may understand is all that marks the place, except the graves here and there, in an irregular and trampled condition.

Why, Mr. Editor, can not the city build a fence around the remains of its dead? Why can not trees be set out and walks and ditches made? The mourning friends could then plant the ivy and myrtle, could arrange the little yards or graves with taste, adorning them with flowers and shells. Not so now. The rudest slab, unless well guarded by a fence, made strong and high, is not safe, but is liable any day to be trampled down, and the place known no more to loving friends. Our cemetery is a desolate looking place. It looks more like a prairie dog village than a "city of the dead." Not a tree can be seen, no signs of beauty or improvement, except two or three fences around individual lots. For a week or more past a coffin, one that has been used, might be seen rudely cast in one corner of the grounds among the cactus bushes, lid by its side and a bloody blanket shawl near by. What does it mean? Nobody knows, for it is nobody's business. Whose business is it to remove this nuisance from the place in question?

The situation is so well known to our inhabitants that it is useless to fill the valuable space in your columns to enter into details. Let us accept this as a fact and consider a remedy.

I would suggest that the city council appoint annually or bi-annually a cemetery commission, with pay the same as councilmen, whose duty should be to receive all monies from the sale of lots, digging graves, donations, appropriations made from time to time by the city council or county commissioners and pay the same to the city treasurer to be held by him as a special fund in trust and for the benefit of the cemetery. Let the commissioner, as fast as the funds will permit and circumstances demand, expend said money in building fences, planting trees, digging ditches, and making such other improvements as necessity may require. A ditch could be taken out at a small expense from the Fontaine, the calaboose and jail inmates doing the work, which would answer very well for cemetery purposes for years to come, and enough water sold in Craig's and Bartlett's additions, not only to keep the same in order, but make it a paying investment. One or more laborers could be constantly employed about the grounds, and when a grave was required, be on hand to dig it, under the supervision of the commissioner, and the cemetery fund have the fee that goes at an outrageous rate to first one or the other.

We do not expect a Mount Auburn, a Greenwood, a Mount Hope or a Bellfontaine, but justice to the dead demands a quiet spot, one shaded and watered, and secured from roaming cattle. A vault house should be built. It would be of great convenience for temporary interments.

Let the commissioner keep a record of all interments, name, age, date, cause of death, attending physician (or coroner's certificate) and such other information as would be of value, including the number of the block and the lot. This would give us mortality statistics which we can not or do not now get. Then we want goodly made streets to and from this lonely spot, with ditches covered and ruts filled up. But one thing at a time. Let us have a commissioner, one alive to a sense of duty of this kind, and all things will follow. Work can be laid out this fall ready for a spring campaign towards the demands of justice and common decency to our dead.

Yours, respectfully, A. P. G.

Pueblo Chieftain May 28, 2008 - Stone saviors - By Mary Jean Porter -

Maria Lockhart and daughter Sarah Fox are ready to weather a few more decades.

The long-defaced limestone marker above their graves at Pueblo Pioneer Cemetery - Lockhart died in 1881 and Fox in 1878 - is clean and its engraving crisp and clearly legible.

"Isn't she beautiful? asked stone restorer Helen Wildermuth of Nashville, Ind. "The lettering stands out like it was done yesterday."

Wildermuth had just lowered the 500-pound memorial column back onto its die, using a tripod and help from her son, Justin Straub, and another restorer, Mark Davis. The three had removed spray-painted graffiti and cleaned years of dirt from the stone, which sparkled in the sunshine.

"Piece of cake, right? Wildermuth said, dusting her hands on her pants. Wildermuth recently was in Southern Colorado to restore 40 stones at Pioneer Cemetery and 15 at Greenwood Cemetery in Canon City. It is her second job at the Canon City cemetery.

"We chose the stones (for restoration) based on size and historical importance," said Ed Iniguez, vice president of Pueblo Pioneer Cemetery Association. "We wanted to get some of the most visible and most important ones back up."

Many stones in the city-owned cemetery have been vandalized over the years. Some lie in pieces on the ground, others are upright but marred by graffiti. Many are missing their finials while some have been scoured by the weather and time, leaving them anonymous.

Wildermuth - her company is called Stonehugger Cemetery Restoration and her handshake confirms that she tosses tombstones around - said they first assessed the stones to be restored and photographed them. For each grave marker, they dug up the base, leveled the ground, cleaned and repaired the stone if needed, then stood the marker back up - mortaring together the individual parts - and photographed the stone again.

"It's a very tedious and hands-on process," she said.

Wildermuth started restoring gravestones seven years ago, as an extension of her interest in genealogy.

"You start out looking for Grandma and Grandpa. You find their headstones, but you get out real quick because the cemetery is in deplorable condition. I went to a workshop and from then on, I was self-taught.

"You can make a difference," she said about efforts to keep the past from vanishing.

Wildermuth has restored stones in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Colorado and said the ones in this part of the country suffer from the wind, "but you don't have the algae and lichens we have at home which eat at the stones. Some of the old wooden markers last longer around here, too. There are no wooden ones left at home. And the mortuary pictures (mounted with some stones) - we never see those back East."

Wildermuth said she's never been frightened in a graveyard.

"It's one of the most rewarding things," she said. "I've never had anyone say the work shouldn't be done. It's (cemetery restoration) like the broken-window theory: If people show they care about a place, if they take ownership of it, all of a sudden, it's not a sad, neglected place anymore. It's a wonderful transformation of the neighborhood."

Iniguez said the nonprofit cemetery association budgeted $15,000 for the stone restoration, and will have to raise another $10,000 for the next professional restoration job it hopes to have done. The group receives some grants and its annual spaghetti dinner is the major fundraiser.

The cemetery grounds are maintained by the city, while the association cares for the stones.

Pueblo Pioneer Cemetery was established in 1870, though it contains earlier graves moved from elsewhere. It originally was called Northside Cemetery. An estimated 3,000 people are buried there, a fraction of whom are represented by headstones, Iniguez said.

"When the cemetery first started, people just dropped off bodies. There were cattle grazing here and pigs rooting around. It wasn't a pretty place."

The public is welcome to attend the annual memorial services at 9 a.m. Monday at the cemetery and to see the restored headstones afterward. The main gate is at the corner of 20th Street and Montezuma Road.

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