San Manuel Miner
A group of volunteers has taken on the task of identifying unmarked graves, cleaning up, and maintaining the Oracle Cemetery. Gloria and Reg Ramsay have been involved in keeping up the cemetery for years. They are now working with other volunteers to gather a list of everyone known to be buried in the Oracle Cemetery. There are many unmarked graves including those of what appear to be infants or children. The members of the Oracle Cemetery Identification Project are trying to find out who is buried in unmarked graves and identify those whose headstones have been worn by the elements so badly they cannot be read.
The project started as a clean up project about a year and a half ago. Members of the local ward of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints have been involved in the cleaning. Lorin McCrae decided to locate a grave with GPS coordinates. They are now planning to map the cemetery and give each gravesite a GPS number. Each grave that is identified will be given a number. There will be stakes driven into the gravesite with temporary markers and if the deceased is identified their name will be added to the marker and map. The map will be located in the roofed rock structure at the entrance of the cemetery. This will make it easier for friends and relatives of the deceased to find the grave. It will also assist genealogists and historians in their research.
Noted historical author Catherine Ellis has been helping to identify gravesites and researching death records to find out who is buried in the cemetery. She said the history of the cemetery is interesting. In the 1880s through the early 1900s, people who died in Oracle were buried in Tucson at Holy Hope or Evergreen cemeteries or had their bodies shipped to other parts of the country or Mexico where they were originally from. The first known person to be buried in the area that is now known as the Oracle Cemetery was Andres Castillo in 1911. He was a Mexican working for Lavinia Steward. His body was found on a trail in Oracle. Steward took care of the burial arrangements and purchased the headstone. Soon others began to bury family members in the area. It may have not been a deeded cemetery at the time as town site problems had not been settled.
The Cemetery Grave Identification Project needs help from the public. They are asking anyone that knows who is buried in an unmarked grave or in a grave with an unreadable headstone to write the name on the temporary marker. If you disagree with the name that is on a temporary marker please let them know by calling Gloria Ramsay 520-896-2505 or Cathy Ellis 520-896-3226.