Print Cemetery grave 'owners' missing
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 00:00

Off Old Church Road on the edge of town, Clear Creek Cemetery sits quietly nestled below an impressive view of the nearby Black Hills.

The Clear Creek Cemetery board of directors is currently searching for several individuals and families who previously arranged to be buried in the historic pioneer cemetery, which has limited space.The land is the final resting spot for many of Camp Verde’s earlier pioneer residents; the first recorded burial here was in 1868.
Though it’s old, the cemetery isn’t quite full yet. There are, however, restrictions on who can be buried there.

Someone has to already have family buried in the cemetery before their bones will be allowed entrance. It’s why the cemetery is designated as a Pioneer Cemetery, said Bea Richmond, a volunteer with the Clear Creek Cemetery Association.

Richmond, along with Debbie Wilbur, keep the records of who’s buried where up-to-date, keeping as vigilant as possible against mistakes that pop up from time to time.

On a recent walk-through with some of the town’s older residents, some minor map errors were caught. Importantly, the association was also able to compile a list of people who reserved plots in the cemetery but haven’t been heard from in years.

These are people from whom the association hasn’t received a change of address, a notice of death, a donation or even a phone number.

“We generally agreed that half of these people ought to be dead by now,” Richmond said.

Any number of things can happen to leave a grave unclaimed, Richmond said.

Sometimes a spouse may be buried there, but then the surviving partner remarries and is eventually buried somewhere else. In other cases, the deceased could have been taken somewhere else by other family members. Or it’s possible that some people simply forgot about the plot.

Since the cemetery is on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service, the plots can’t be bought and sold like in most traditional cemeteries.

With no physical reminder of “ownership,” Richmond said it’s easy to see how someone might reserve a spot and forget about it as the march of the years moves on.

Based on information collected in the most recent cemetery survey, the association has complied a list of 18 people about whom they would like some information: Rena Taylor, Ida and Heim Thomas, Birdie Lacey Grimes, Zella Osborn, Elsie Sherrill, George Vann, Glenda and Lloyd Wells, Zona Doughty, Ruby and Arthur Weber, Jack Pickens, John Thompson, Jane Cunningham, Wade Bounds and Marie and Curtis Wheat.

If the association doesn’t learn anything about the locations or intentions of these people, their reserved plots will revert back to the cemetery so they can be given to other people.

Richmond said a similar effort to find information about a decade ago was quite successful. There were many more names on that list, and Richmond estimates the association got around an 80 percent response rate. She’s hoping this attempt is as fruitful. While space for bodies is limited, Richmond said the cemetery does have plenty of cremation plots still available.

For more information, or to share information about those names listed, call Richmond at 567-1988.