Show Me Your Cemeteries and I Will Tell You About Your People

Presenter:  Vivia Strang

Where do I find Arizona’s historic past?  This is a question often asked by visiting tourist and sometimes even the ones who have been here for years.  Who tells the story better than the people who came to the Territory and lived, worked, and died here? The historic cemeteries hold the remains of Arizona’s early settlers, from lawmen to outlaws, lawyers, judges, doctors, farmers, ranchers, merchants, prostitutes, Rough Riders, Arizona Rangers and the occasional Civil War veteran.  Some of the names are familiar, some are not, but their stories are compelling and gives the dead a voice and place in history.

Part of the Mission of the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association (PCA) is: To acknowledge, celebrate, and promote Arizona’s Pioneer History, represented by those interred in Arizona historic cemeteries, through research, education, conservation, and community engagement.  While the City of Phoenix owns the property they do not have the staff or resources to provide opportunities for citizens to visit or participate in related activities and programs.  Through an Operating Agreement with the City of Phoenix, PCA provides these opportunities for Pioneer & Military Memorial Park and Cementerio Lindo.  After many years of meetings, Arizona Republic news coverage, and PBS special programs, the PCA is working towards doing the same with the Sotelo-Heard Cemetery further ensuring the dead have a voice and are not simple forgotten.  We are keeping their final resting place intact and telling the stories of the ones buried there.   “Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you about your people.”