For those who may not already know, there are two cemeteries in our Town; Chino Valley Cemetery on W. Rd. 2 South dating back to the 1920’s and lovingly cared for by a group headed by Ellen Ginn; and, the cemetery at Del Rio Ranch that dates back to 1860’s - the Ft. Whipple and Territorial Capital period. The Del Rio Cemetery sits on a lonely hill on private property, which is for sale. Note: Arizona cemeteries are protected under ARS 41-865.
Records at Sharlot Hall Museum show 17 names of folks buried at Del Rio Cemetery including Private Fisher; a soldier killed by an Indian arrow and believed to be the first to be buried there. Only a few graves have markers; the Shivers’ family plot and a wooden stake, wrapped in metal with the date 1930 on it … no name. Scattered piles of rocks seem to have been used to indicate other graves. There is a wire fence around the cemetery covering an area that is believed to hold around 60 graves. Livestock roams the area including the cemetery.
The Society’s goal is to preserve this historical cemetery. To this end the Society became a member (or booster as they call it) of the APCRP, Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project. On May 29th, 2009, Paul Aslanian, the Project Manager of Del Rio Ranch, agreed to meet with the two members of APCRP and several Society members at the site. We exchanged information about the cemetery, the ranch and its other historical buildings & sites, and the present day activities. The two members of APCRP taught us how to “witch” the cemetery with copper rods. We all took turns and found indication of many more gravesites outside the existing fenced area. We also learned that some animals are buried to the north of the fenced area.
APCRP suggests that the perimeter of the “new” cemetery area be defined with either stakes or fencing. A greater project would be to define each grave, using the witching method, with stakes or rocks once the perimeter is secure. The Society is working with APCRP to accomplish this task. We hope to meet again in October or November depending on the availability of the APCRP staff. The ideal tribute would be permanent fencing, gate, signage, and viewing area.
As a result of our first outing, APCRP has added Del Rio Cemetery to its website. It is a great tribute to the history of the cemetery and Del Rio and can be found at: apcrp.org, click on CEMETERIES and then the letter “D”.