Southeast Colorado Cemeteries|
Stories Beneth Our FeetCemeteries are books and headstones are clues. To understand a community visit the local graveyards, be they boot hill, potter’s field, memorial parks or churchyards. Cemeteries open doors to culture, ethnicity, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They tell you about sturdiness and patriotism, people’s dreams, happiness, pride and sense of worth. You can tell a lot about the society in how well their cemeteries are maintained. Walk through the headstones and footstones and you’ll see the organizations that have held communities together through fraternal groups, veteran groups, or religious affiliations. You can see how deeply the people were committed to themselves and their country, to ideas like duty, honor and faith. Note the relationships or orientations of headstones and the way in which the deceased were buried. As a simple means of respect, don’t tread over the bodies buried there. Please be aware of funeral processions. If you are wearing a hat, please take it off and stand still until the last car passes. Don’t take photos of processions.
Jeff Campbell, 2008
Ways to Tour Local Cemeteries You could chose to walk among the soldiers of the Civil War, the War with Mexico, the Spanish-American War, Philippine – Spanish War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Persian Gulf War and the Iraq and Afghan Wars. Or chose to look for the oldest burials in each cemetery, or for the person who was born furthest back in time. You might find octogenarians and infants who died before they could know life and all it holds.
You could seek out the patterns of epidemics that hit the plains, like the influenza epidemic that hit the United States (and the World) in about 1918-19, killing 600,000 in the U.S. alone. You could take an historical approach and seek out those people who were known, famous or infamous in their contributions to the culture of southeast Colorado. You could also seek out the people who came to the West of the United States leaving oppression or just trying to find an opportunity to own their own piece of ground in this New World.
Southeastern Colorado is a path from plains to mountains, on the way to destinations like the Pacific or trade in New Mexico. The famous, infamous and ordinary crossed this country. In the first half of the 1800’s Baptiste Charboneau (son of Sacajawea), the Bent brothers, John Charles Fremont, Tom Fitzpatrick, a young J. E. B. Stuart, Kit Carson and scores of other adventurers and explorers put tracks on the ground of the Arkansas Valley. In the second half of the 1800’s Generals like Sherman and Sheridan, the Grand Duke of Russia, the Earp brothers, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday crossed the region. In the 20th century came emigrants from around the world, capitalists, and dreamers. The area became a destination as mountain men vanished and traders, farmers and rancher dug in.
The Bent, Carson, Prowers, Boggs and Boone families and the Hiram Holly and Charles Goodnight cattlemen established bases for commerce and later the cattle industry. Eventually the sugar beet industry came to Holly, Lamar, Sugar City and Swink. These were followed by railroads, irrigation canal companies and other agribusinesses.
On this cemetery tour you will find Indian, Italian, Japanese, Swedish, French, Lebanese, Hispanic, Scots, Irish, English, African-American, Scandinavian and other ethnic and national groups. Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Far Eastern religions are all represented. Fraternal, social and civic groups are represented as are popular period themes. Those who served from the 1840’s to present representing every branch of the service have a place of honor, as did police, sheriffs and firemen. Service is exemplified in the people who were laid to rest here.
For more information on the cemeteries of the region, see the County Clerks and Assessors or go to the Town Offices. Look up museum curators and volunteers. Don’t forget local newspaper offices.
Kit Carson Memorial Chapel at Fort LyonKit Carson, Army scout, trapper, brigadier general and one-time commanding officer at Fort Garland, Colorado, died here in May, 1868. Moved from a location within the correctional facility complex in 2002, this stone building was first used as quarters for the post surgeon, who in 1868 was Dr. H. W. Tilton. Carson had been in failing health and was brought to the doctor from his home in Boggsville (now a National Historic Landmark), about two miles south of Las Animas. Now within the grounds of a correctional facility, the chapel can be viewed on the way to the Fort Lyon National Cemetery.
At intersection of Gate Road and Cemetery Road
Fort Lyon, CO 81038 (719) 456-2948
Hours of Operation
By appointment only, as chapel is on correctional facility grounds. Contact Kathleen Tomlin at 719-456-2948 or Wendy Grover (Fort Lyon Dept. of Corrections) at 719-456-3210. The cemetery is open daily to visitors.
Take US Hwy 50 five miles east of Las Animas. Turn south on CO Hwy 183. Follow 183 for a mile then enter the Fort Lyon gate. The chapel is located about a quarter mile from the gate on the right side. Fort Lyon National Cemetery is located at 15700 County Road HH, 1 mile east of the Chapel.
Also visit the Old Trail Art Gallery in Las Animas at the only stoplight, the Kit Carson Museum in Las Animas, the 1902 Jail Building near the Bent County Courthouse, Boggsville south of Las Animas and Old Bent’s Fort west of Las Animas. (Each also listed separately on this website.)
Fowler CemeteryThe setting is on the north side of the railroad tracks and presents a somewhat stark appearance with few trees or added vegetation.(As one ofthe escorts for a funeral stated because of the drought the grasses, which used to grow in abundance, died out and were taken over by natural grasses and weeds.) The grounds have been trimmed and present an easy stroll through the several acres of headstones. Most of the cemetery is a cultural and ethnic mix of peoples, however there is one segregated section on the northeast side of the cemetery to the north of a small irrigation ditch which appears to be primarily Hispanic and Catholic.
Fairview CemeteryThe developed portions of the cemetery grounds are planted with trees and shrubs and makes for a picturesque setting and although the grounds are rolling conveniently spaced access drives course through the various plots.
The Calvary portion on the southside of the ground is separated by a grassy area. The stones here represent a mostly Catholic section of the cemetery. Hispanic and European surnames are mixed here and in the Fairview portion.
Japanese or Japanese American graves are found in the Fairview portion as are “Spanish” or “Mexican” Mennonites. It is very interesting to note the variety or origins of the people here. They came from all parts of Europe and from all over the United States. There don’t appear to be any articular sectional aspects to the emigrants who came here, and staff stated that several black or African-Americans are buried here. The earliest Japanese grave found was 1922.
Rocky Ford Cemetery
Las Animas Cemetery
A pretty setting above the valley floor looks across the valley to the north.Graves are mixed new and old, but primarily the further east you walk through the cemetery the older the markers are. On the northeast side you find quite a group of Japanese / Japanese American graves. Hispanic and “Anglo” graves are generally mixed throughout. There is one small portion of the cemetery on the other side of the irrigation ditch in the southeastern corner.
Walter Scott CemeteryThe Walter Scott Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in the Eads, Colorado area and was the first cemetery for that town in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The cemetery was then moved to another site east of town around 1920. However, the gravesites located at the Walter Scott Cemetery were not moved because the next-of-kin could not be found or contacted for permission for repatriation. Therefore, these gravesites have sat alone on the hill south of Eads and through the years have been forgotten. They are now part of the developing Jackson’s Trails project that will provide walking trails to the cemetery, Jackson’s Pond, and back into Eads at a historical barn that is being developed into the trailhead for the project.
The oldest grave at the Walter Scott Cemetery is from 1899 and is that of a one-month old baby. The latest identified grave is 1916.
France - Harker CemeteryThe France – Harker Cemetery consists of 21 gravesites and 10 tombstones that are intact and preserved. The earliest known grave is that of Frank Chilson in 1895 and the latest known grave is that of Charlie V. France in 1942. Most of the tombstones, however, range in the late 1800s to the first decade of the Twentieth-Century.
Eads CemeteryAbout ten acres, in a plains setting with a few trees and shrubs. Graves mark the lives of early emigrants, settlers, homesteaders, business and community leaders, as well as prominent area ranchers. Veterans’ graves throughout.
Chivington CemeteryProbably one of the better opportunities on the tour to visit a small prairie cemetery. Established during the heyday of Chivington with the coming of the railroad, a roundhouse, the extraordinary Kingdom Hotel, as many as 12-15 saloons and a booming population, this near ghost-town now only boasts a few residents and is surrounded by rolling plains in all directions. Atop a low hill just south of the townsite a short recommended leg stretching walk will take you there. Be sure to close the gate when you leave.
Valley View Cemetery
Olney Springs Cemetery