Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Version 020609

Revised: 010713








Historic Pioneer Cemetery


By: Lois Ann Preston



Ehrenberg, Arizona


Ehrenberg's post office was established September 20, 1869 and discontinued December 31, 1913. Named after Hermann Ehrenberg, this town was the principal town on the Colorado River during the "old west" days.



Ehrenberg Arizona Pioneer Cemetery Photo by: Lois Ann Preston


By the mid 1870's, Ehrenberg had a population of about 500 people. By the early 1900's, the railroads had taken place of the steamboats and most of the population of Ehrenberg had moved elsewhere.  


Map by: Neal Du Shane 11/27/08


Ehrenberg Cemetery is just two blocks off I-10. Graves are covered in stone, many have no headstones.


By Martha Summerhayes

Born October 21, 1844 - Died May 12, 1926


From Jack’s diary (her husband): “Aug. 23rd. Heat awful. Pringle died today” He was the third soldier to succumb. It seemed to me their fate was a hard one. To die, down in a wretched place, to be rolled a blanket and buried on those desert shores, with nothing but a heap of stones to mark their graves.


The next day I asked Jack to walk to the grave-yard with me. He postponed it from day to day, but I insisted upon going. At last, he took me to see it. 


There was no enclosure, but the bare, sloping, sandy place was sprinkled with graves, marked by heaps of stones, and in some instance by rude crosses of wood, some of which had been wrenched from their upright position by the fierce sand-storms. There was not a blade of grass, a tree, or a flower. I walked about among these graves, and close beside some of them I saw deep holes and whitened bones. I was quite ignorant or unthinking, and asked what the holes were.

“It is where the coyotes and wolves come in the nights,” said jack.


My heart sickened as I thought of these horrors, and I wonder if Ehrenburg held anything in store for me worse than what I had already seen. We turned away from this unhallowed grave-yard and walked to our quarters. I had never known much about “nerves,” but I began to see specters in the nights, and those ghastly graves with their coyote-holes were ever before me. The place was but a stone’s throw from us, and the uneasy spirits from these desecrated graves began to haunt me. I couldn’t not sit alone on the porch at night, for they peered through the lattice, and mocked at me, and beckoned. Some had no heads, some no arms, but they pointed or nodded towards the grewsome burying-ground: “you’ll be with us soon, you’ll be with us soon.”


By: Kathy Block,

APCRP Historical Staff

It's interesting to contemplate how linked historical facts are with one another. The circle widens as one splashes into the pool of information in books and on the Internet. Many of the following facts were actually found when researching Dome and Gila City.

A paper by Doe Stragnel, "The History of LaPaz & Ehrenberg" (written as a thesis), gives some information about Herman Ehrenberg, the man for whom the town of Ehrenberg was named. He had a varied and exciting life. He was born at Steuden, near Leipzig, Saxony (Germany) between 1816 and 1820. (Records lost.) He came to New York in 1834 or 1835 and enlisted in the New Orleans Grays in the War for Texas Independence. He was captured and while facing a firing squad he feigned death and fell. He temporarily escaped but was recaptured and received a saber slash which left him with a facial scar. Through intervention of a fellow German attached to the Mexican forces and/or due to his youth, he was released and returned to Germany to complete his education and obtain a degree as a mining and topographic engineer.

When he returned to the United States after writing a book, in1836, he was involved in a number of important mining and topographic surveying activities. Stragnel comments: "Apparently, as a result of this publication, a large number of German families immigrated to Texas. The book has never been translated into English but represents the impact that one individual was capable of having at this juncture of history."

Eventually he joined another famous historical figure, Charles Posten. They met in Tucson in 1856. Posten became the Alcalde of Tubec and in the census of 1860 Herman Ehrenberg was listed as a resident of that city with a net worth of twenty-five thousand dollars, a small fortune at that time. (Suggesting that Ehrenberg was doing quite well with his surveying activities.) An interesting link with another historical event is that Ehrenberg in 1863 mentioned to Henry Wickenburg that he had found a promising gold mining area in the Little Harquahala Mountains. Wickenburg explored the region and did find it to be potentially rich. However, on his way back home, he discovered Vulture Mine and forgot all about the area his friend Ehrenberg had found!

The connection with the site of Ehrenberg is that Ehrenberg surveyed the city and it was first called Mineral City .In 1863, it was the site of the Bradshaw Ferry Landing on the Colorado River 90 miles north of Yuma. It consisted of a few tents, crude huts, and sixteen men. Ehrenberg was robbed and murdered at Dos Palmas, California (near present day Palm Springs) on October 9, 1866 and never knew this town was named after him. He was a lifetime bachelor, so there are no descendents.

Another link to Arizona history in the naming of Ehrenberg is that the legendary Goldwater family began a mercantile enterprise in 1862 when Michael Goldwater hauled some much-needed goods across the desert from California and opened a store at LaPaz. In 1868, one morning, residents discovered the shifty Colorado River had changed its course overnight! The town was now high and dry, so everyone, including the Goldwater family, packed up their belongings and located on the banks of the new river course. The new town was named Ehrenberg in honor of their friend who had been killed two years before. By 1870 the town had 87 dwellings and 96 families. By 1875 the population had grown to 500 with stores, saloons, corrals, blacksmith, wagon shop, two bakeries, a hotel, a Catholic Church and the Arizona State Company. And a cemetery!  A descendent of Michael Goldwater, the noted Senator Barry Goldwater, called Ehrenberg, "one of the greatest surveyors and map makers ever to visit the Western United States.”

The cemetery monument was erected in 1935 by the Arizona State Highway Department and relics of the past were cemented into an apron surrounding the base of the rock and morar "obelish".

An invaluable reference book (I collect history books), is called A Guide to Western Ghost Towns, 1967. The author, Lambert Florin, had this to say about Ehrenberg and the cemetery at that time! (Many decades ago). "From Blythe, California, go east across Colorado River into Arizona. Just after crossing note gravel exiting left (north), this is location of Ehrenberg . . . Almost at intersection is Boot Hill Cemetery, one of bleakest, most forlorn in West. Piles of stone mark graves, identification totally lacking. Some markers come tantalizingly close to being legible. Imposing monument erected by highway crews is desecrated by vandals. Careful search east of exit road reveals some scanty adobe ruins. Hot in summer."

This write-up touches on some of the past of Ehrenberg. Note the positive changes in present day photos and description!


By Kathy Block

APCRP Research Staff


In early January 2013, Ed and I visited Ehrenberg Cemetery. We stopped at a little store at an RV Park north of the cemetery to ask for information. The very helpful lady working there has helped clean up the cemetery and expressed regret that the “younger generation” wasn't interested in its history or in preserving it.


We found the grounds to be nicely maintained and the monument restored, with artifacts embedded in concrete around its base.


Monument at entrance to cemetery

Artifacts embedded around base of monument


 There were several signs about the cemetery.


Sign facing Ehrenberg Road

Sign to right of entrance, erected by Lost Dutchman Colony, E. Clampus Vitus


One section of the cemetery to the left of the entrance contained the graves of at least 7 members of the Daniel family. These had crude markers. Here are two of them:


Robert Daniel, Known as CINCO

Alfred M. Daniel, died August 1913


There were many unidentified graves marked by piles of stones, and several had “unknown” signs.


“Unknown” grave sign

Near entrance, remains of old wagon in corner


Rosters of the burials are available on the Internet. 


The location of the cemetery just east of the Colorado River and south of the site of the historic settlement of La Paz was probably very convenient for burials of early settlers, explorers, and travelers in this region.  


Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Version 020609

Revised 010713


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