Pueblo Northside Cemetery was officially designated in 1870 when the site was purchased for a Masonic Cemetery from the U.S. Government by M. D. Thatcher. The section was divided into the I.O.O. F., the Masonic, Pueblo City's No. 3 and No. 4. A County Cemetery was designated to the north of the I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows) burial grounds. The Jewish Cemetery is located in the northwestern corner of the site and is maintained by the Jewish Ccmmunity. In the northeastern corner of Pueblo City's No. 3 and 4 sections is the Soldiers and Sailors Plot. Most of these stones are missing. This cemetery was the first established cemetery for the City of Pueblo and a great many of the early founders and pioneers of the area are interred here. In 1968 the Board of water Works and the City of Pueblo developed a beautification program for the Northside Cemetery. Cleanup of the Cemetery began on April 9, 1968.
In 1969 the Board of Water Works and the City of Pueblo were responsible for the installation of 1500 feet of 12 inch water main at 22nd Street from West Street to Montezuma Road, thus providing water service to the Cemetery. This important project laid a basis for later development. In 1981 the Anchors Aweigh Navy Mothers Club of America #953 began a cleanup project at the Old Soldiers and Sailors section of the Cemetery. They held the first memorial services on the site. Their support continues to date. In 1983 a Committee composed of members of various organizations and concerned citizens was organized for the Colorado Archaeological Awareness Year to promote a year long schedule of public events and projects for the purpose of educating the community to the importance of preserving our cultural heritage and to enlist support in the preservation of prehistoric and historic sites. This Committee approached the City Council to request funds for the conservation and preservation of the cemetery. The City approved $35,000 for the project and designated an account number with the Finance Department to handle all contributions for the improvement of the cemetery.
In 1984 a main gate was constructed at the corner of Montezuma and West 20th Street. At this time the cemetery was named the Pueblo Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery was cleaned and preservation work was begun on the stones and wrought iron fences. In 1985 a plaza was built which included a base for a future statue, flower beds, and benches. On-going conservation of the cemetery and preservation of the stones continued under the direction of Peter McCarthy. In 1986 Don Claussen, a landscape architect, was hired by the Committee. A Master Plan for landscaping was completed and approved by the Committee and the City of Pueblo. Flag poles were an addition to the plaza area during the year. In 1987 trees were planted on the site. Research was completed by Nancy Buckles and Sondra Biddle, members of the committee. Twenty eight Civil War headstones were ordered from the U.S. Government to be placed at the Soldiers and Sailors section of the cemetery. Eleanor Fry, historian and member of the committee, attended the national meeting of the Association of Gravestone Studies at Amherst, Massachusetts.
In 1988, 100 more trees were planted by the Parks Department on the site. The twenty eight historic Civil War stones were set and a flag pole was installed on the Soldiers and Sailors section of the cemetery. Eleanor Fry attended the national meeting of the Association of Gravestone Studies at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Our committee is a member of this organization which is committed to the restoration and conservation of old cemeteries. In 1989 123 trees were planted by the Parks Department on the site. An appreciation day was held at the cemetery featuring a historic tour by Eleanor Fry, and gravestone rubbings under the supervision of Nancy Buckles. In 1990 additional trees were purchased by the Committee and planted by the Parks Department.
Three historic plaques were placed at the cemetery. Historians remembered are Patrick Desmond, a lawman of the 1880's; George Chilcott, a United States Senator and local rancher, lawyer and real estate developer; and Allen Bradford, a territorial Supreme Justice and Pueblo lawyer. A fourth plaque describing the history of the cemetery and a map of the four sections of the cemetery was placed at the Plaza. A large granite bench was placed on the site. Names of individuals and groups contributing $1,000 or more are inscribed on the bench. Those are Pueblo Greyhound Park Foundation, Retired Enlistment Association Chapter #20 Auxiliary, the City of Pueblo, and the Committee to Restore Pueblo Pioneer Cemetery. Public tours sponsored by the Rosemount Museum, the Committee, and the Parks Department were conducted in October. Interested persons or organizations can contact members of the Committee to arrange for a tour of the cemetery.
In 1991 additional trees were purchased by the Committee and planted by the Parks Department. Four more historic plaques were placed at the site. Historians included Emma Kincaid, beloved teacher of south Pueblo schools, and Carlos Otero. He. was a jeweler, the best tuba player in the West, a fire chief, and craftsman for the miniature Mineral Palace which is located at El Pueblo Museum. Plaques of the Ladies Benevolent Union and the Soldiers and Sailors section reflect the history of both. In 1992 a group of students at Freed Middle School, under the sponsorship of the Junior Optimist Club, approached Pueblo Beautiful Association and the Committee to Restore Pueblo Pioneer Cemetery requesting money to purchase trees to plant along the proposed brick walkway from the gate to the Plaza. Seventeen flowering crab trees were purchased and planted by the Parks Department. An additional five trees were planted on the grounds.
This group also sponsored a neighborhood watch meeting at the school and helped at the fund raisers. Three historical plaques were purchased and placed at the site. Historians include J.J. Thomas, pioneer, legislator, and Pueblo County Commissioner; W.P. Hobson, architect, contractor, and engineer; "Yankee" Gordon, a typical pioneer railroad man of this era. Many such pioneers are buried at Pueblo Pioneer Cemetery. A well-attended public tour was held on June 10th at the site. Persons attended froth Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Canon City.