Tag Archives: Cemetery

The Artwork of Grief

Evergreen Cemetery in Old Bisbee was established in 1892 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It replaced the original site which was built on a higher slope and eventually drew concerns about contamination of water. The remains of those buried in the old cemetery were moved to the new site around 1914. Bisbee was a vibrant mining town from the late 1800s to the 1950s. Phelps Dodge, the mining company who owned the Copper Queen Mine, took care of the cemetery for many years. The final stages of closing the mine occurred in the 1970s, and the once-green oasis of peace began to crumble. There are no longer plots available for purchase.

Recently there has been a torrent of vandalism. The vandals break wings and heads off angels, knock down crosses, and smash the old-fashioned photograph insets on the headstones and destroy the irreplaceable old photos. The cemetery is the resting place for many immigrants who came to Bisbee for work. Russian, Swedish, Irish, Mexican names abound. When the mines closed many people moved away and the headstones were no longer cared for. There aren’t many residents left here of Russian or Swedish ancestry—why would they stay?

The articles in the local papers state that descendents of the deceased no longer live here or “just don’t care.” There are very few residents left here who worked the mines, if there are they are very old. I can’t think of anyone here who has a Russian surname. Most of the residents who actually live in Old Bisbee moved here later, when the town was sort of resurrected as an artists’ colony and LGBT haven in the ’70s. I live on the outskirts of town in a mostly Spanish neighborhood, closer to the Port of Entry of Naco, AZ/Mexico.

A group of people volunteer to maintain the cemetery, but they are older folks and can’t do the heavy work. The century-old Italian cypress trees are being attacked by a blight of bark beetles and are no longer watered. Recently there have been some repair attempts by the city, but years of neglect have taken their toll. I grew up in New England and spent many happy hours in ancient burial grounds scattered all over what’s left of the countryside, but never saw gravemarkers like these back home. Evergreen Cemetery is unique with its simple handmade iron or wood crosses, symbolizing hard lives and unspeakable grief.

Shame on all us who complain. Shame on the politicians, the Occupiers, the Black Friday frenzy, the Air Jordan mobs. Everybody says they don’t have any money but they’re willing to trample people and break down doors to get some stupid gadget or clothing. We wouldn’t last a day living a hundred years ago. No government handouts, no welfare, no foodstamps—no nothing but each other.

A good number of pictures follow, out of a hundred photos I took the other day, choosing ones to publish was hard.

Entrance to Evergreen Cemetery

Many infants and children are buried here.

Baby Ivers

Baby Prince

Tilia Kukuljan, 4 years old

My darling Lloyd, 1902-1905. "Just a tiny grave, But oh so dear, For all my joy and hope, Lies buried here."

Crumbling statue, the head is broken off and is placed on top of the body

This style of metalwork cross is seen all over the cemetery. This one is surrounded by broken posts.

Another cross made from pipes and embellished with metalwork, very common here.

A completely destroyed monument

Broken statue

Someone tried to repair this cross with cement

Simple wooden cross of infant

Simple cross made of pipe, there are many, many here similar to this

This simple handmade metal marker sums up the hard lives of the miners

Fraternal orders were popular. This is a plaque dedicated to a member of the "Loyal Order of Moose" (L.O.O.M) There is also a Masons' section, and they are still active here today.

Many of the men served in either WWI or WWII.

Many headstones consist of metal pipes, and there are beautiful iron gates everywhere, all in disrepair.

Madaline Gaid, 3 years old

Allen Gonzales, one year old

There are more recent gravesites, but no more plots are available

Another modern site

Of the the very modern headstones. A wife will join her husband here.

I'm not sure what language this is. Croatian maybe? Does ovdje pociva mean "here lies"?

Mamie McNelis, born in Ireland in 1880

A parents' beautiful sentiment to their 20-year-old son.

The dying cypress trees. Pretty depressing.