With its weathered, and often cracked headstones dating back to the late 1800s, it’s easy to let the Globe Cemetery capture the imagination. Covering roughly 32 acres of land in the hills on the west end of town, its entry lined with tall, ominous cypress trees (also known as graveyard trees), there is much to wonder about the cemetery’s long history and those buried below.
To this day, some people are still buried in the “old” sections of the cemetery with their families, if their family claimed a plot many, many years ago, says Pam Leonard, the cemetery administrator at City Hall. Newer plots are still purchased from the City of Globe.
The City of Globe, which maintains the cemetery, and shares joint ownership of it with Gila County, does not have the exact number of burials in the cemetery recorded, though it does have records dating back to the late 1800s. However, Find A Grave, an online database containing cemetery records submitted by the public, lists 7,456 interments, or burials, at the Globe Cemetery.
Engage in a conversation about the Globe Cemetery around town, and names like Judge Hackney, Robert S. Knowles, Al Sieber, and Sheriffs Glenn Reynolds and John Henry Thompson (“Rimrock Henry”) are likely to come up – names of some who are buried at the cemetery and deeply ingrained in Globe’s early history.
But what about those whose stories are less known?
The cemetery was established in 1876, the same year that the City of Globe was founded. Globe’s earliest newcomers are buried there, many who were attracted by opportunities in mining. A diverse mixture of people, like Italians, Cornish, Slavs, Irish, Germans, Austrians, African Americans, Mexicans, and Chinese all found themselves in Globe for one reason or another, and many eventually lay to rest in the cemetery grounds.
The late 1800s also saw an explosion of fraternal orders, at least a dozen of which are represented at the Globe Cemetery and have areas sectioned off explicitly for those members. One of the better known orders in Globe is the Elks. At its entrance, a visitor to the cemetery will notice “BPOE 489,” which stands for “Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks 489.” Others included the Freemasons and Knights of Pythias, as well as lesser known orders like the Woodmen of the World.
The First Burial
The first individual to be buried in the Globe Cemetery was Thomas B. Hammond, brother of Andrew “Doc” Hammond, who some say is the founder of Globe.
Thomas was a prospector whose body was found by his brother on the trail to Pinto Creek on September 1, 1876, the same year the City of Globe was founded. While out on a prospecting trip, Thomas had been killed by Apaches.
“With the body of his brother secured to the back of a horse, Doc Hammond returned sadly to Globe City,” writes Robert Bigando, author of “Globe, Arizona: The Life and Times of a Western Mining Town 1864-1917.”
“The young man was buried on a hill on the west side of Pinal Creek,” he continues. “To his other firsts, Doc Hammond added the unhappy distinction of having dug the camp’s first grave.”
Hammond’s headstone is still in place beneath an old juniper tree. His grave is easy to find by following the cemetery’s signage.
His inscription reads:
“In the solemn shades of the woods that swept the field when his brother found him, and the hot tears crept into the strongmen’s eyes that had seldom wept. His mother, God pity her, smiles and slept drawing her arms over him.”
The Ladies of the Cemetery Committee
As years pass, stories are lost to time. Those who live to tell the stories eventually pass, and headstone inscriptions become weathered and increasingly difficult to read.
To prevent such losses, in February of 1987, a group of local women collectively known as “The Ladies of the Cemetery Committee” decided to gather and preserve as much information as possible from headstone inscriptions and burial records.
“We saw how bad the headstones were, you could hardly read them,” remembers Betty Jones, one of the committee members who was involved. “Somebody needed to do something about it… We all agreed it should be done.”
Jones, along with other committee members and their husbands, including Rilla Cunningham (who is credited for initiating the project), Betty DalMolin, Mina Thompson, Mary Jane Lenzi, and Dorothy C. Morris, spent the next two years visiting Globe Cemetery, walking through the sections, documenting inscriptions from headstones, and compiling the information they collected.
They frequently referenced documents from Lamont Mortuary (originally established in 1898 as F.L. Jones Funeral Home) – which has records dating back to the late 1800s – and used them as a guide.
On so many occasions, Lenzi recalls walking out the sections of the cemetery in the early in the mornings, before the sun came up.
The result of their work was published two years later, in a 500-plus page document entitled, “Globe Arizona Cemetery Inscriptions,” edited by Morris. It includes maps of the various sections of the cemetery, bits of information about its various sections, and the inscriptions on the gravestones of those buried there.
For anyone researching those buried at the cemetery, this document remains a vital tool. A copy is kept at the Gila Historical Society.
Section 8: The “Chinese Section”
A small section of the Globe Cemetery was sectioned off for the Chinese who lived in Globe – Section 8.
As historian Clara T. Woody notes in her book, “Globe, Arizona,” after helping to build the Transcontinental Railroad, many Chinese people ended up in Globe, working as cooks, laundrymen, gardeners and all-purpose laborers.
“When a Chinese died, he was given a funeral appropriate to his circumstances and placed in the old Globe Cemetery,” she wrote. “But as soon as arrangements could be made, he was shipped to San Francisco and on to China for burial with his ancestors.”
In 1946, however, a man by the name of Dea Gin Foo pushed for the creation of the Chinese Section of the cemetery.
“The Globe Chinese Cemetery was started and funded by my grandfather,” explains Jim Lee, grandson of Dea Gin Foo and former resident of Globe.
Foo was a notable figure in Globe’s history who came to the United States from China, eventually settling in Globe in 1898. He started out serving food to the miners, Lee says, and he eventually became a successful entrepreneur.
“He noticed all the Chinese workers were pretty poor…They were living in one room apartments,” Lee says. “When they died, my grandfather was passionate. He wanted to have a cemetery [for them].”
The dedication of the section was documented in the Arizona Republic:
“A motion was made to sell a plot of ground in Globe cemetery to the Chinese colony for a burial ground,” reads an article that was published on June 19, 1946.
Lee is not sure if his grandfather wanted to establish the Chinese Section because of exclusionary sentiments towards the Chinese at that time, or if he simply wanted to have a separate location to honor them.
“[My grandfather] had constructed a kind of memorial. So you go there and you’ll see the semicircle memorial with a lot of Chinese writing on it,” Lee continues. “And on holidays, on special days, I remember our family going there, and they would burn incense or prepare a meal.”
When Lee’s grandfather passed away, the family also faced the question of whether his remains should be buried in Globe or back in China. Lee’s mother and uncle still lived in Globe, so they would want to honor him in Globe, Lee says. But Foo also had a wife back in China who he married before he came here.
“In the late 1800s, and I don’t know whether this happened to my grandfather or not, they would actually conduct a funeral service [back in China], because in those early years, when the Chinese men came over, they would live and die in America,” Lee explains. “And so you could imagine how heartbreaking it would be, when you have a young couple, and the husband decides for the sake of the family, economically, he would leave and go to work in America and send money back to sustain the family. And at times, then, they would conduct a funeral service for that person because they would never see them again.”
Foo took a second wife after moving here to the States, Lee says, which was an acceptable practice in those days. Still, Lee’s grandfather continued to send money back to his family in China, and Lee’s mother and uncle would later do the same.
“So it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if the remaining Chinese family would want to bring back granddad to honor him in China,” Lee says.
Section 9: The “Colored Section” and The Buffalo Soldiers
At the time it was designated, Section 9 was referred to as the “colored section,” according to the cemetery committee’s document.
Those who are buried there include Buffalo Soldiers from the Tenth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, one of two cavalry units created after the Civil War that consisted entirely of African Americans. The two units were sent west in 1867 to help rebuild the country and patrol the western frontier.
According to the document, members of the 10th Cavalry were “transferred to the Arizona Frontier to help settle Indian troubles, who settled with their families in the Globe area.”
An article published in the Arizona Informant in May 2013 more specifically states that the six soldiers buried in the Globe Cemetery served in the Indian Campaign Wars.
Section 9 is on the southwest end of the cemetery. The area where the Buffalo Soldiers are buried is clearly marked and easy to spot by following cemetery signage.
The Woodmen of the World
Some of the more intriguing gravestones in the old cemetery stand several feet tall and are elaborately shaped like tree trunks. They are often marked “WOW” or “MWA,” while others read “Woodmen of the World” or “Modern Woodmen of America.”
These are the gravestones of those who belonged to the aforementioned fraternal organization, which was formed in 1890 to sell life insurance, and still exists today (initially it was named “Modern Woodmen of America,” but the name was later changed). The gravestones were supposedly provided to its members, free of charge, from the 1900s to the 1920s.
Surprisingly, these tree-like grave markers are not uncommon in cemeteries. The Library of Northern Illinois University suggests that it was in fact a concept borrowed from the “back to nature” Rustic Movement of Victorian America in the mid to late 1800s.
The Woodmen of the World have a designated section on the cemetery map on the southern side of the cemetery, between the Independent Order of Oddfellows (I.O.O.F.) and the Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.).
A number of graves at the cemetery have no headstones at all.
The committee document suggests that there are hundreds buried at the cemetery with no markings:
“According to Lamont Mortuary records alone, there are several hundred people buried in this cemetery who have no markers or other means of identifying their specific location,” the document reads. “At the time they were identified by tag numbers and most had 1” X 12” board markers at their head, most no longer exist.”
Many graves are marked with nothing more than a PVC pipe cross – a practice used in cemeteries when a grave does not have a headstone. Several locals state that they had been used to replace old wooden crosses.
Outlaws and Paupers
Outlaws and paupers appear to have been buried in their own sections of the cemetery.
According to the committee’s document: “Those who were considered outlaws, and had the misfortune to be hanged, were excluded from burial within the Cemetery line boundaries. Their place of burial was outside the Hallowed Ground fence line.”
The document also states according to Lamont Mortuary records, there is a small “Pauper Section” in Section 20. On the cemetery map, it is shown to just southwest of the Knights of Pythias and the Masons, across the hillside from Sections 8 and 9.
This is Only the Beginning
This is just a glimpse into the thousands of stories from the cemetery that have yet to be told, and questions that have yet to be answered. The information shared here only barely scratches the surface.
For now, we’ll leave the rest to your imagination.