On March 27, 1917, Riley Gardner and his wife, Frances, deeded about five acres of hilly land overlooking Rainbow Lake to the L.D.S. Church for use as a cemetery.
Many graves in the older part of the cemetery are not actually in their recorded locations. Mapping was infrequent and inconsistent in the cemetery’s early years, and graves were sometimes either not marked at all, or marked from memory long after the actual burial.
Russell Whatcott designed and built the sign as his Eagle Scout project in 1992.
The earliest graves were dug by hand, often taking as long as two days to complete. If the ground was frozen, fires were built over the grave site to melt the ice and make digging easier. The oldest grave is that of toddler Urna West; born December 29, 1917, she died July 20, 1919. A large number of headstones date from this era because of The Great Pandemic, an influenza epidemic that spread nationwide, and which killed more Americans than died in World War I.
On April 26, 1961, Dr. & Mrs. Arnold and Mildred Dysterheft donated two additional acres on the north side of the existing cemetery, which were to be used with no restrictions as to race or religion. This added about 800 more gravesites to the total.
In 1965, at the request of C. Lloyd Rhoton, bishop of the Lakeside Ward of the L.D.S. Church, Kent Rhoton began surveying the cemetery. After three summers of fieldwork, which included trying to correlate all previous plats and written histories, a map was created, which is still used as a reference guide when placing new gravesites.
In 1968, the hog-wire-and-cedar-post fence was replaced with chain link. A road was put in, with water faucets running parallel, at about the same time (another new road, with a new gate, was added in the 1990’s). Russell Whatcott designed and built the sign as his Eagle Scout project in 1992.
Information on Burials
The Town of Pinetop-Lakeside took over maintenance and administration of the cemetery in July of 2000. For information on burials, please contact Shannon Purcell at 928-368-8696.
For information on flag ceremonies, please contact VFW Post 2364 by phone at 928-368-6166, or by mail at:
P.O. Box 2198
Lakeside, AZ 85929