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greenwood pioneer cemeteryA Short History of Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery

By Mary Ann Thomas
January 19, 2001
originally published October 30, 2000
Canon City Daily Record

Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery is the second known burial ground in Caņon City and the oldest extant. Historically, it contains the final resting-places of persons of significance to not only the residents of Caņon City, but also the state of Colorado. Genealogically, it is relevant to persons around the world.

Caņon City was settled in 1859-1860 and the first known burials were of the Bowen family (1861, 1863, and 1864). Those graves were moved from the original site on their land on Dozier and Van Loo Street to Lakeside Cemetery in 1992, making Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery the oldest extant burial ground in Caņon City.

greenwood pioneer cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery Sign

The first known burial in what would become Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery was William M. Davis, who was buried in 1865 on the William C. Catlin homestead. Another pioneer family, the Griffins, buried two children there in 1866 and several other stones exist from the same time period.

A small notice appears in the April 20, 1876 edition of the Caņon City Times stating a committee had been formed to confer with W.C. Catlin regarding the cemetery site. In the November 30, 1876 edition, it was reported that he had donated 10 acres south of town to be used for burial purposes. Several deeds have been recorded regarding this land, one dated November 9, 1875 granting land to the Masonic lodge for burial purposes, and one on November 21, 1876 to the City of Caņon City for the same purpose.

Although all the burials are important, there are several that are of significance to more then just the family members. James H. Peabody was the only Caņon City resident to achieve the highest political rank in Colorado, although several others ran for the office. He was governor of Colorado from 1903-1905, He also served as mayor of Caņon City and president of the First National Bank.

greenwood pioneer cemetery robert cameron
Brevet Major General Robert A. Cameron

Others of historical significance buried there are Joseph H. Maupin, attorney general of Colorado, Guy Hardy, a U.S. congressman of several years, Brevet Major General Robert A. Cameron, (34th Indiana Volunteers) who later helped found Colorado Springs, Greeley and Fort Collins with General Palmer and was warden of the Colorado State Penitentiary from 1885 - 1887, George Rockafellow, the first mayor of Caņon City in 1872, Truman Blancett, an early mountain man and scout, who died at age 106, and Father John Massaro, a pioneer Catholic missionary.

In addition to the famous, there are some infamous resting there. There are two sections in the cemetery reserved for prisoners, the last of whom was buried during the 1970's. Included are Danny Daniels, A.H. Davis, and Red Reiley, leaders of the 1929 riot, which resulted in their deaths as well as the deaths of 8 correctional officers. William Cody Kelly and Luis J. Monge, the first and last to die in the state gas chamber, and Edward Ives, who survived his first hanging, but not his second, are also buried. Most of these graves are marked by simple metal markers, bearing only the inscription "CSP Inmate", the later burials on Woodpecker Hill have names and dates on the markers and a few families have provided regular stones.

greenwood pioneer cemetery edward ives
Grave of Edward Ives

Like all parts of the country, Fremont County was greatly affected by the Civil War. Many veterans from both sides are buried there. Whether by accident or humor, the Confederate section is housed in the northern part and the GAR section in the more southern section. A large pile of stones is all that remains of the GAR memorial. A much more impressive monument stands in the Confederate section, paid for by donations from the GAR members.

Participants of several wars are interred there. Among them lie Amanda Farnham Felch and her husband Marshall, both Civil War veterans. She was an Army nurse, who served from July 1861- May 1865 with the 3rd Reg. Vermont Vol. Inf. and the 6th Corps Army of the Potomac. She served during the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and many others and later served under Dorthea Dix. Brevet General Cameron and scores of other veterans from the Confederate and Union ranks, Spanish American War, WW 1 and 2, Korea and Vietnam.

Other interesting gravesites include a stone bearing probable Chinese characters marking a lone grave, many children's graves with ornate lambs, sandstone towers, and an impressive ship's anchor.

greenwood pioneer cemetery loretta heavner
Grave of Loretta Heavner

Graves of the less famous but still remembered abound. The fenced grave of Loretta Heavner, a 17 year old wife and mother who died in childbirth, testifying to a descendant, the only record of her relationship to her grandfather. Rev. Samuel McCorckle and Theophilas McCorckle, whose descendant was equally thrilled to find their stones, once vandalized and then repaired. Dr. Sarah Goff, an otherwise forgotten early female doctor, is buried there as well.

Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery has a long and significant history. The persons buried there have shaped not only the local history of Caņon City, but in many instances the history of the state of Colorado and the county of the United States.

- Mary Ann Thomas
Mary Ann Thomas is a professional genealogist, is the Fremont County Coordinator at the COGenWeb and the COGenExchange, and is a member of various organizations including the National Genealogical Society. Visit her own website "Lone Pine Ancestors".

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