For love of the pioneer cemetery: Riverside and Lakeview

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise (6/21/2009).

I have a special fondness for one particular historical site in Denver – the grande dame of Denver burial grounds: Riverside Cemetery. Established in 1876, Riverside is well-known for its ornate headstones and statuary. My family has a 125-year-old plot, and my parents are buried there. My great grandfather was laid to rest there in 1885 – he survived only two years in Colorado. Great, Great Uncle Davy lies there – he was a gold miner in the Telluride area who, in 1899, buried two of his own brothers within a week of each other after they contracted pneumonia up on Mt. Wilson. The last grave in our family plot is my Great Uncle Charlie, a man in his early 20s who was shot and killed by his partner in Ophir, Colorado in 1912.

Many famous Coloradans are buried at Riverside, including early Governor John Evans; Augusta Tabor, the first wife of mining millionaire Horace Tabor; and Silas Soule, Sand Creek massacre whistle-blower.

Evans tomb at Riverside

Riverside has won an historical site designation but is still in deep trouble. Though it’s located on the South Platte River, the cemetery lost its water rights and since then, over 100 trees have died. A number of the trees have fallen over, destroying beautiful old monuments. A group of advocates has formed, Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery, whose purpose is to protect and preserve this Colorado landmark.

Broomfield also has its own historical cemetery, which is happily in better shape than Riverside. It has the status of a memorial park and is maintained by Broomfield Public Works. Lakeview Cemetery is a pleasant spot located on Eagle Way, near the intersection with Main Street and across the street from Broomfield High School. Incorporated in 1890, the cemetery’s name apparently derived from the view of a swamp.

Broomfield's Lakeview Cemetery

A good number of Broomfield’s pioneers are buried at Lakeview, several of whom I’ve written about in past columns – Watson Colman, who was gored by a bull in 1911; Mary Wright, the 18-year-old daughter of Mary Wright, Sr., Colorado’s first female dairy commissioner; many members of the Brown family; and John Cook, also known as “Cookie,” who worked for William Brown. The Zang family also has a plot there, though no markers exist.

The first burial took place at Lakeview on July 30, 1889, an unnamed baby in the Anderson family. In fact, a good percentage of the earliest graves were babies or very young children, a testament to the difficulties of bringing children into the world back in the pioneer west.

Lakeview is still a partially active cemetery, allowing the interment of cremated remains. It is owned by the City and County of Broomfield. In 2003, Broomfield opened a new cemetery, the Broomfield County Commons Cemetery at 9th and Sheridan.

The copyright of the article “For love of the pioneer cemetery: Riverside and Lakeview” is owned by Carol Turner. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing. Article may be quoted if properly cited.

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