5201 Brighton Boulevard
Denver, CO 80216
Riverside Cemetery was founded in 1876 and is Denver’s oldest operating cemetery with a long list of famous and infamous people buried there. We were told on our tour, the cemetery is actually closed for burials except if a family already has members buried there and there is still room in their lot for other family members.
When it first opened the cemetery was surrounded by beautiful natural greenery. Later, the Burlington Railroad changed the landscape to a more industrial area and some families chose to have their relatives’ remains exhumed and reburied elsewhere.
Currently the cemetery is being watched over by the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery. The Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and promoting preservation of Denver’s oldest cemetery.
Water rights have been a big threat to the cemetery. That was evident the day many of us (mostly genealogists) took a tour. The grass is practically non existent and the tree loss is huge. You can go to the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery’s site and read more about this. http://friendsofriversidecemetery.org/
Another link has listing of those buried there. It is an in progress site. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~coadams/riverside/index.htm
We were told Sandstone is the easiest to deteriorate and we saw evidence of this.
Zinc tombstones turned color and weathered.
Artists who designed and made tombstones did not sign their work. However, most stones did display the company name.
Some of the interesting people buried there were Barney and Julia Ford. He was an African slave, who escaped via the Underground Railroad (b. 1822). His wife Julia was not a slave. Being a slave he had to take a name and he chose her surname; Barney Lancelot Ford. They became entrepreneurs and accumulated wealth. Barney became known as “The Black Baron”.
Another interesting tombstone was a huge boulder that read
Countess Katrina Wolf Murat
I did a little checking on Ancestry.com and found in the 1870 census, City of Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado there was a couple listed as Henry Murat 47 years old, a Saloon and Billiard Keepr, born in Hanover, Germany. Keeping house was Catherine Murat age 47 born in Baden, Germany. They could both read and write.
I also found a passport application for Henry Murat 27 Dec. 1864 of Hanover Germany. He and Catharine were going back to Germany. Henry had to swear he was not leaving to avoid military duty and that he was, indeed, a citizen of the Territory of Colorado. That he was fully naturalized in Adams County, CO on June 1855. Henry states that he has “lost” his certificate and doesn’t have time to pursue getting a duplicate and that he is a loyal citizen.
The Count and Countess title came from their claiming to be from royalty and a connection to Napoleon Bonaparte. Whether this was true, has never been proven. Katarina or Catharine and Henry or Henri had their problems and she divorced him. She went on and moved to Palmer, CO and became a helpful member of the community… running a boarding house and other establishments.
As far as the flag goes, it was made from her “French Lingerie”; red, white and blue. The flag flew for only 4 days, according to the story, before it mysteriously disappeared.
For the Researcher
The office has many old Lot books that you may look through, wearing the protective white gloves. Photographs are only allowed without a flash. In the office there are Interment cards with information. However, the office is only open certain times to review the cards and book, so it would be a good idea to call ahead and check.
There is a great deal of history in this old cemetery and it is certainly worth checking out on your next visit to Denver.