The History Of The Pioneer Cemetery

Please scroll down a ways and then it will scroll on it own.




     Dedicated to the preservation and documentation of the Historic Cemeteries in
      Phoenix, Arizona.  These cemeteries are:

City Cemetery
Loosley Cemetery
Masonic Cemetery
Knights of Pythias  (K of P)
Porter   (GAR, Confederate)
Rosedale  (aka Loring, aka Walker)
International Order of Odd Fellows  (IOOF)
Ancient Order of United Workmen  (AOUW)





When the journey into the genealogy of my ancestors began in the mid 1960's, I started with my grandmother, my daughter's great grandmother Meta Louise Bolzau Hazelton's family.  The first discovery I made was the cemetery where her mother's family, the Gatke's, were buried.  This wonderful old cemetery still has the look of long ago days when Arizona was still a territory.  It does not have the lush green grounds of some of the newer cemeteries but still has dirt with some weeds and old forgotten headstones such as the Gatke's which is a red four foot red sandstone structure that is beginning to crumble and leans a little sideways.  This is the cemetery where you will find some of the first settlers to arrive in the Phoenix area such as my great great grandfather, my daughter's great great great Frederick William Gatke, famed as the Poet Of The Salt River Valley, along with another native of Germany Jacob Waltz, who located The Lost Dutchman Mine which was in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix.  Waltz died a itinerant poor farmer on October 25, 1891, at age 81.  "A flood came through, he hung onto a tree, he caught pneumonia".  Because of the theft of the headstone of Jacob Waltz, a few years after I initially went to the cemetery, the cemetery is opened by appointment only.

Buried in the Gatke family plot with my great great grandfather, my daughter's great great great grandfather is his wife Dorthea, daughter Caroline, son William, daughter-in-law Anna and his nine year old granddaughter Dorthea.  Also buried in the family plot is Charlie Gatke, a four year who died in 1896.  We have not been able to identify his relationship to the family.

Forty years ago I did not realize that one day we would be relating the history of this wonderful old cemetery for others to read, but thanks to a wonderful lady, Marge West, this has been possible.  Marge has given me so much valuable information over the years about our family as she is constantly searching through old newspapers, etc. attempting to find out any information on the people who are buried there.  To you Marge West we owe a big debt of gratitude for all of your help and for supplying the history to make this page possible.  Thank you.



The first known "official" cemetery in Phoenix was located between Madison and Jackson (blocks 57 & 58 of the original townsite) and bounded on the west by 7th avenue.

By 1884 dissatisfaction with the condition of the early cemetery led to the Masons, Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias purchase of Block 32 of the Neahrs addition for purposes of laying out a cemetery.  The City Council jumped into the process and purchased about an acre of the said block and John R. Loosley purchased what the city did not of the west half of the block so the fraternal orders developed the east half and the city and Mr. Loosley the west half.  This location was considered far away from town and would create no problems as the city was developing to the east and north.

In 1888 Lulu G. Porter, wife of DeForest Porter, acquired the south half of block 22, same addition, and had it laid out as a cemetery and in 1898 Rosedale, block 21 was developed.  References to "Loring Cemetery" probably refer to a section in this cemetery.

Other cemeteries in the valley prior to Statehood were:   Mesa 1891, Glendale 1895, Double Butte 1896, St. Francis 1898 and Greenwood 1906.  Three other burial sites, exact dates unknown, are Cross Cut at 47th street and Van Buren; Heard/Sotelo near 12th street and Broadway (all known burials are Mexican) and the County's cemetery on 15th avenue at I-17.  It is now called Cementerio Lindo and no longer used by the County.

The condition of the cemeteries at Jefferson and 14th avenue deteriorated as had the first cemetery and by 1914 the City Council forbade further burials at the site.  By this time residential development had begun in the area.  Various proposals were made in an attempt to move the cemetery but none were carried out.  The most recent one was in 1935 when the Junior Chamber of Commerce requested the city to remove the burials and replace it with a park.  A study was carried out (Pioneers' Cemetery Association has a copy) but no action was taken.

Many removals by families were made, the majority of them going to Greenwood.  As many as 190 have been documented from Greenwood records and extant mortuary records.  The most recent removal was Mary Elizabeth Nash who had died in 1901 and was moved by her son William in 1969 to Mountain View Cemetery, Mesa, from the GAR section in Porter cemetery.  The most recent interment was that of Darrel Duppa who was brought back from Greenwood where he had been moved by the DAR early in the century.  The reinterment occurred on November 16, 1991 in the Mason section of the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park.

Preservation, restoration and research was begun in the late 1930's by the original Pioneers' Cemetery Association but was interrupted by the sudden death of Thomas Hayden, prime researcher, and World War II.  In 1983 the present Pioneers' Cemetery Association was formed and created a working relationship with the City of Phoenix to further work at the cemeteries.  In 1993 the cemetery received "Historic District" status, the only non-residential district so designated.



Abstracted, in part, from The Arizona Republic, Wednesday Morning, April 9, 1941 by James M. Barney, local history writer.

Movement for "New Cemetery".
City officials:  George F. Coats, mayor, (d. 1901 buried K of P. Blk 4 Lot 1, moved to Greenwood Cemetery, Sec. 5) John R. Loosley, George H. N. Luhrs, W. F. McNulty and O. L. Mahoney, councilmen.

"Current" (1884) cemetery in SW corner of original townsite, Blks 57 & 58.
(Between Jackson and Madison sts. and 5th and 7th aves.)

Item in Phoenix Daily Herald of May 27, 1884 concerning above cemetery.

Jerry Millay, attorney, moved bodies from potters field of old cemetery to W1/2 blk 32 Neahrs addition.  Contract entered into July 17, 1884 and paid off on Oct. 6, 1884 by common council.

October 8, 1884 Millay deeded to John R. Loosley some of W1/2 of Blk 32, Neahrs addition.  (Referred to as "City" or "Loosley">)

Loosley moved some other remains ca 1885.  1st burials were in south part near Madison.  Great many beyond I.D. so buried in 2 large common graves.

J. M. Gregory advertised lots for sale at new cemetery.  (Undertaker & lumberman.)

"City" cemetery surveyed by Thomas W. Hine.  W1/2 blk 32 Neahrs addition and recorded 3 Sept 1884.  (Neahrs addition had been filed for record 6 March 1880.)

Lodges:  Masons, I.O.O.F., K of P (Knights of Pythias), and A.O.U. W. (Ancient Order of United Workmen).  E1/2 Blk 32 surveyed by Capt. Wm. Hancock and filed for recording 19 July 1884.  (Capt. Hancock buried K of P. blk 5, lot 2 grave 5).

Oct 3, 1887 blks 57 & 58 of old townsite ordered to other uses.  No burials made for two years.

Lulu G. (Cotten) Porter received quit claim deed from j. M. Evans for S1/2 Blk 22 Neahrs addition including lots 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 in Nov. of 1887.  Surveyed by Wm. M. Breakenridge and presented for recording 24 Mar 1891.  The first burial in this cemetery (Porter) appears to have been Mrs. Porter's father, James Cotten who died in Sept. of 1888.

26 April 1888 blks 57 & 58 of old townsite deeded to schools.

Loosley filed June 5, 1889 and Feb. 12, 1896 for further subdivision for cemetery W1/2 Blk 32, Neahrs addition.

W. R. Allbright filed Sept. 28, 1894 for a subdivision of W1/2 Blk 32.

Rosedale laid out by J. W. Walker.  Recorded plat April 30, 1898.  Lots 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 of S1/2 Blk 21 Neahrs Addition.  Surveyed by C. (Jim) Dobbins.  N1/2 of Blk 21 also used for burials but no plat nor filing has been found.  There are references to "Loring Cemetery" and George Loring's name is on some deeds as conveyor.

Greenwood opened.  (Van Buren & west of I-17).

"City" cemeteries declared abandoned 1909 and June 1914 further burials were barred and prohibited.


Volunteers dig through history to give those in Pioneers Cemetery Identities


The Arizona Republic, Saturday, September 27, 2003.

Dust comes before the rain.  Near the state Capitol, standing graveside inside Pioneers Cemetery, looking eastward, a layer of sand fills in the outline of downtown Phoenix.  The dust storm scrubs away at the buildings.  For now, they stay.  No one knows what the passage of another century will yield or tear down.  Time nearly wiped out the memory of the earliest pioneers buried here at what is now the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park at 14th Avenue and Jefferson Street.

One woman, Marge West, has faced off with time for two decades.  If she hadn't paced the weed-choked gravel grounds 20 years ago, if she hadn't meticulously written down each name from every visible headstone onto an index card, there would be no evidence of the people here, buried in the park that consists of seven historic cemeteries dating back in the 1870's.

They call West the "guru."  At first, she could only make out 600 names.  Now, with the help of Diane Sumrall, who travels from north Scottsdale a couple of days a week, the two have calculated that there are more than 3, 660 names.  Others from the Pioneers' Cemetery Association chipped in, but West and Sumrall are the stalwart volunteer researchers.

The two credit Algona Winslow, an association member, with visiting mortuaries and copying down old records by hand.  A man named Thomas Hayden, who surveyed the gravesites in 1938, trying to log the dead, had done previous work.

All this helped, but it wasn't enough.

West and Sumrall journeyed through miles of old obituaries dating to the 19th century and death certificates from the Arizona Territory searching for clues of those who died and locating where they were buried.  The last of the cemeteries closed in 1914.

Back then details were sketchy.  Documents penned with ink looked like script.  "We had to figure out how to make people interested, find out about the people who are buried here," West says.  "Essentially, we found out this, the history of early Phoenix."

There is some lore, says Sumrall, that there is a mass grave where they buried those they couldn't identify.

The oldest headstone they've charted is 1871.  His name was William Pinckney Murray.  "We don't know why he came," West says.  "He was here a short time; his daughter Anna married John Alsap, the first mayor of Phoenix."  "I get into these people," West says.  ""She's been living with them for 20 years," Sumrall says.

Living with them indeed:  Madams and miners, ministers and mothers, soldiers, a surgeon general.  And a Japanese cook.  The cook, I. Torigoe, worked at a local ranch and became mesmerized by a gun hanging in the kitchen.  He inadvertently was shot in the face while he and his friend played with the gun.

West, 77, and Sumrall, 60, uncovered these names and cobbled together their stories through old records:

Felicianna Baker
Only 16 months and 13 days old when she died of poisoning after she ingested morphine pills, a common "household product."

Clarence Proctor
A Buffalo Soldier, a sergeant in Troop L of the 10th U.S. Cavalry during the Spanish American War.

Lindley Orme
Moved to Arizona in 1870 and was elected Maricopa County sheriff in 1880, 1882 and 1891.

Freddie Tovrea
Who died of appendicitis.  He was the 10-year-old son of rancher E. A. Tovrea, owner of Tovrea Castle.

Rose Gregory
Known as Minnie Powers, owned The Powers, a saloon and lodging house where West and Sumrall believe she was a madam.

The hardened desert has equalized all of those buried here, the less famous and the infamous, even Bryan Philip Darrell Duppa, who is credited with naming Tempe and Phoenix.





"Lord Bless And Keep You"
Performed By
Margi Harrell
Used With Her Special Permission
Visit Her Web Site At:
Llerrah Music

Pioneer Cemetery
Family Members' Headstone

Return To Main Page

Clarence A. Olin
[email protected]
Lois Olin Nader
[email protected]