Pat Ryland – Neal Du Shane
Photo courtesy: Pat Ryland
As with so many
The expense of exhuming loved ones and purchasing new lots which in those days cost $50.00 this equal’s in today’s money $2,500 just for the new lot, then factor exhumation, preparing the new interment site, which could add another $1,000 to the total expense. This cost simply eliminated many families from being able to absorb this expense. Subsequently the family member was never exhumed and relocated from the original burial site.
Photo courtesy: Pat Ryland
In some cases if there were headstones at the original cemetery, they may have been moved by the local governments and placed as memorials at the new cemetery in a “Potters” section or were discarded entirely.
It is more likely there would have been stone monuments in a city as old and well established as Wickenburg, but less likely in communities such as the ghost town of Constellation and the ghost town of Gilbert or mining camps in the area etc.
On April 11, 2008, Pat Ryland, member of the Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project (APCRP) researched Stone Park in sweeps far enough apart so as not to count the same grave twice.
From the back of the Town Hall building to the entry to the library, Pat found 61 male graves and 8 female graves. Indicating 69 families were unable to exhume their loved one, for what ever reason, and place the remains in the new cemetery.
As of this writing our current research has found eleven places that burials have taken place in Wickenburg. Two are locations for cremations in two different churches, but the remaining nine are believed to be definitely “Pioneer Cemeteries”.
All historical documents that could verify the process were
destroyed in the Historical Societies fire some years ago. Based on logic and
instinct, it would seem the Sols Wash Burial Ground/Cemetery would have been
Pat Ryland’s research finds that Wickenburg was founded in 1863 and the progression of cemeteries seems to be:
1875 – “Lumber Yard” Cemetery
1900 (Pre) “Boetto House” Cemetery
1910 – Wickenburg Municipal (current) Cemetery
It is extremely unlikely the graves in Sols Wash were exhumed
and moved to the new cemetery, our research has found seven graves in two
separate locations at the former site of the
Factor in individual religious and racial cemeteries, there
may have been two or three active cemeteries at the time as Wickenburg was one
of the three major communities in
To give the readers a perspective to the labor and effort to exhume an interred in the 1800’s, APCRP conducted an experiment in a field to verify the time and labor to dig a grave. The size was four feet by seven feet and six foot deep, that equals 126 cubic feet of earth to remove. Five adult men, with pick and shovel, it would take them the better part of one day to dig one grave, exhuming could be slightly quicker but not by much. One well placed stick of dynamite might expedite the digging but we have never found verification this was done.
In 2008 we witnessed a backhoe, two trucks and three men and it took them the better part of four hours to dig on opening for a burial ceremony. It isn’t an easy task to exhume a grave!
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