Did You Know: Dozens Of Tempe Pioneers Buried At Double Butte Cemetery

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 2:45pm
Updated: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 3:08pm
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
Garfield Abram Goodwin was Tempe’s mayor and councilman in the 1920s.

It is the home to many East Valley’s founding members. The location is one of the oldest in the area — and many of you have driven right past it.

Elliot, Warner and Dobson. I’m not talking about street names. These are people who helped developed the East Valley and they are buried at the Tempe Double Butte Cemetery.

It sits adjacent to Interstate 10 and at the foothills of Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes resort. Did you know the Double Butte Cemetery is one of the oldest in the Phoenix area and is the final resting place of many influential Valley pioneers?

“The first burials here — well, at least first recorded burials — were 1888," said John Southard, an Arizona historian and the preservationist for the city of Tempe.

“Ninety one Tempe pioneers are listed in a book detailing those who were prominent in early Tempe, of those, something like 82 are buried here in the cemetery. So, it was the burial ground," Southard said.

Southard said before there was a cemetery, it was customary to bury relatives on family-owned properties. But as Tempe began growing, lands were being sold and developed. So, a local prominent landowner donated part of his land far away from the town to use as its cemetery.

“This cemetery varies greatly from those you’d find back East, the more traditional," Southard said.

The Double Butte Cemetery has been maintained by the city of Tempe since the 1950s, after the association that cared for it dissolved. The land is about 40 acres, most of it is lush green.

One area has a Sonoran desert landscape. The space is called the Pioneer Section.

“It was families of the dead who were largely responsible for maintaining the grounds," Southard said. "That’s why you see the wide spread variety of plots here. Some with simple cement borders, some with chain-link fences, some with wrought iron fences, some really quite ornate, others very humble.”

Walk through the cemetery pathways and you’ll see familiar names.

“Charles Hayden, the Anglo founder of Tempe, to his son, Sen. Carl Hayden, to Gov. Benjamin B. Moeur, the governor who created the Arizona Navy," said Southard.

“If you walk around here you can really see the street grid of the southeast Valley play out in terms of the names you’ll find on the grave stones," Southard said.

You'll see names such as Reginald Elliott and Samuel Warner. They were prominent land owners in south Tempe.

City records show Pioneer section at the Double Butte Cemetery is also the resting place of local veterans who served as long ago as the Civil War.

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