Seventh in a series
View the Written in Stone series online at www.gvnews.com
There are not many people around anymore who can talk about Amado's cemetery. But the names and dates on the headstones can tell visitors about who was living and dying in the area while Southern Arizona was still being settled.
The cemetery sits back on private land, to the west of the frontage road, about a mile south of the Cow Palace. Accessing it is difficult and requires getting past a gate and going a half mile up an especially rough and rocky unpaved road. A chain link fence surrounds it, with a metal sign reading “Amado Cemetery” hanging near the entrance.
Most of the graves date back to the first half of the 20th century and show how difficult it was living in the area before many of the modern conveniences. Of the 57 listed interments – though there are unmarked graves – 19 are for children who were 1 year old or younger when they died.
A series of gravestones, plus birth and death records, tell the trials of the Rodriguez family. No less than five children of Santiago Rodriguez, originally from Ruby, and Maria Luisa Ahumado (possibly Ahumada) from Arivaca, are buried there. Most died before their first birthday.
Maria Julia was born March 29, 1925, but died Aug, 18, succumbing to a fever. Jose Maria also died from a fever in 1929, living only between Nov. 7 and Nov. 21. Mercedes died on April 22, 1934 from pneumonia at the age of 6 months. David was born in 1945, but lived only between February and May. The longest lived child was Miguel, born in 1928, who would live until 1945 when typhoid fever killed him at the age of 17.
Through the ages
The Moreno family graves also record tragedy. Two twins, Jose and Josefa, were delivered still-born on March 15, 1925. Their mother, Rita de Rascon Moreno, passed away the next day at the age of 30, the official caused being listed as pneumonia.
Not that everyone was dying before their time. Francisco Valenzuela was 80 when he passed away in 1947, and his wife Benigna was 70 at the time of her death in 1943. Julia Ahumada, whose grave is topped by a statue of a woman with an armload of flowers, lived between August 1876 and January 1963. Also notable is Louis Figueroa, who was born July 11, 1876 and died Jan. 30, 1954.
One well-kept and recent-looking headstone is for Gertrudes Proctor (Feb. 28, 1897 to Feb. 7, 1934). Gertrudes, born into the Valenzuela family, went by “Tula” and was the wife of Henry Patrick Proctor.
Henry was the son of Vermont native Charles Anthony Proctor, who would be an owner of the Sopori Ranch and the La Tesota Ranch near what was then Sahuarito. When he sold that ranch, he moved to Box Canyon to ranch there.
It was Charles and his family who gave their name to the Proctor Ranch, which in turn is the namesake of Proctor Road at the mouth of Madera Canyon. Like his father, Henry Proctor also ranched in Box Canyon. He married Tula in 1925, but she passed away unexpectedly from a stomach issue in 1934.
Memories live on
Jesse Luna, an 80-year-old Amado resident, said he was a boy when he attended the funeral and burial of Francisco Valenzuela, Tula's father. Valenzuela's death certificate says he died of coronary thrombosis at the age of 80 on Nov. 6, 1947 and was interred in the cemetery two days later. Francisco is buried with his wife, Benigna Bartlett Valenzuela, and one son, Mike, who died in 1926 and the age of 21.
Luna remembers his father had an old Model T or Model A, and they had to lay down wood planks to get the car and the 55-gallon water drum it was carrying up to the cemetery for the occasion.
His father, Jesus, is also interred there, along with a sister, Gloria, and brother, Richard. Richard went into the armed services as a signal operator, but died in 1966 at the age of 19 after coming in contact with a live wire.
The cemetery represents the various pioneer families of Amado, Luna said, including the Valenzuelas, Palomares, Ahumadas, Varelas, Valdezes, Rodriguezes and Villas. Members of the Ahumada and Palomares families still visit often, despite having relocated to Tucson, but most of those families are now gone, Luna said.
And with them moving on, the graveyard has slowly fallen out of use. The latest date on any of the gravestones is 1969 and Luna can't recall the last time anyone was put in the ground up there.
“There hasn't been anyone buried there in years,” he said.
David Rookhuyzen | 547-9728