Hidden Manitou Springs: Crystal Valley Cemetery

     What does a Union General, a toddler, a pianist, a pioneer doctor, and a mummy all have in common? Four out of the five reside in a hidden cemetery nestled in a valley nook. All except the mummy which was last seen at a county fair in Seattle, Washington but started out in our Crystal Valley Cemetery. I'll explain him in a minute.

Photo by T.K.Wright. 2017
     Let me start out by describing our little historic cemetery at 406 Plainview Place, established 1882. The scene starts at a rod iron gate with Manitou greenstone walls proudly guarding the entrance. A small building to the right is also built from Manitou greenstone and granite in the Arts & Craft architectural style. It has been used as a chapel, an office, and for storage.
Photo By T.K.Wright 2017
Large maple and ash trees adorn the main road that weaves up the gentle climbing road. According to Find A Grave.com, 1,858 occupy the 20 acres with the earliest residents were transferred from a pioneer cemetery. The original site contained a massive greenstone retaining wall that can still be seen around the 300 block of Pawnee Avenue.

The Union General
     Among the most historic graves in our cemetery is the Civil War, General Charles Adams. While acting as a U.S. Indian agent in Colorado, he became friends with Chief Ouray and his wife, Chipeta, the Uncompahgre Band of the Ute Nation.  Unfortunately, during his commission, a dispute between settlers and Ute land owners erupted, named the Meeker Massacre. General Adams acted as negotiator for the release of woman hostages. He held a full inquest in Washington, D.C. along with witness's account and Native American representation from the Southern Utes by Chief Ouray. The General's career took him to Bolivia as a diplomat under President Hayes. But returned to Colorado after Hayes wasn't re-elected. According to The Herald Democrat, August 22, 1895, the Union General died unceremoniously in a hotel fire in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by T.K.Wright 2017
The Toddler
     The tiniest but most ornate graves is that of a toddler, Freddie Snider (also known as Fritz). He was the son of the gardener/caretaker, Ferdinand Schneider at General William J. Palmer's home, Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs. Mr. Schneider emigrated from Humberg, Germany in 1881. Little Freddie's mother, Amalia came to the U.S. the following year to become the governess of Palmer's children. Both Ferdinand & Amalia went to work for Palmer's dear friend, Dr. W.A. Bell at the Briarhurst Castle (later changed to Briarhurst Manor) in Manitou Springs and moved into a cottage on the grounds. I am attempting to document the exact date, via Census and City Directories, as I was afraid that Freddie might have been injured in the Briarhurst fire, Jan. 6th, 1886. But according to Schneider's Great, Great, Granddaughter, Valerie Lemke, Freddie died of Scarlet Fever on Sept. 20, 1887, at the age of 2 1/2 years. My research revealed little Freddie's Baptismal records at the local St. Andrew's Episcopal Church but no death record. Dr. Bell was rumored to have paid for the grave which makes sense considering the opulent and ornate details surrounding the small internment.
Photo by Valerie Lemke. All Rights Reserved. 

The Pianist

     The next person of interest lies with a lady, not as well known for her talent at a piano but for what happened AFTER she died. If you do not know who this beloved person is or why she loved our mountain town, you need to get to Manitou Springs, especially at the last weekend in October. Emma Crawford loved Manitou Springs so much that she regularly hiked Red Mountain evaporating what little strength she had. Emma was dying of Tuberculosis when she succumbed to the illness, she was buried on Red Mountain.
Photo by T.K.Wright 2017

 Her last wish did not take into account the geology of the mountain, granite scree. After a couple of years, parts of Emma was found along with a coffin nameplate. Emma's remains were buried in an unmarked grave at the cemetery's edge. A headstone was erected in 2004 that you can visit today. In Emma's honor, we host the Emma Crawford Festival the Saturday before Halloween, complete with a coffin race up Manitou Avenue.
Photo by Manitou Springs Chamber

 In case you want to read on the other bizarre traditions of the Victorians, I recommend The Victorian Book of the Dead by Chris Woodyard. 

The Pioneer Doctor & The Colorado Mummy
     Tom O'Neil got drunk in what we know as Old Colorado City. He picked the wrong opponent to try out his boxing potential which cost him his life. Enter Dr. Issac Davis that donated the land for the cemetery. Serving as the El Paso County Coroner, his duties pertained to the obvious but extended to searching for family members that could take claim of O'Neil's remains. All the while trying to keep the body from melting down. According to the book, From the Grave: A Roadside Guide to Colorado's Pioneer Cemeteries by Linda Wommack, O'Neil's corpse went unclaimed for over two years and stored at the little cemetery chapel. I will assume in the tiny basement that now houses chairs and mechanical equipment. Dr. Davis needed a "specimen" anyhow to practice the newly developing field of embalming. Since Dr. Davis owed the local pharmacy, he had the endless supply of chemical ingredients to perfect his concoctions. Proud of his work, Dr. Davis proudly displayed O'Neal, but the level of medical appreciation gave way to a carnival fascination. After Dr. Davis died on August 12th, 1891, Tom's body was buried but someone got the bright idea that a financial opportunity could be obtained. They dug up the remains and put them on display as "The Colorado Mummy," touring around the country.

Photo By T.K.Wright 2017

      On the last note, have you ever wondered about those headstones cast or carved to look like a pile of wood? Well, get educated by picking up a copy of Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister and visit our hidden Manitou cemetery. Hours are between 8 am till dark, 7 days a week, including the walk-in gate. Sorry, but leave the pooches at home. MAP

*T.K. Wright is a Historic Commissioner for the Manitou Springs Preservation Commission, contributor to The Pikes Peak Bulletin with Colorado lineage beginning in 1872. Her great, great, grandfather, Harry Kneller was a railroad carpenter for General William Palmer. Tammila is a regular host on www.PikaRadio.com . All rights reserved. Contact me for permission to use at pikaradiostation@yahoo.com


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