Cementario Lindo

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Learn about the history of Cementerio Lindo, which dates back to the late 19th century.
It is home to more than 5,000 graves providing a glimpse back to Phoenix’s past.

José Cárdenas: It's a cemetery closed for years with a special place in Phoenix history for Latinos. The headstones give a glimpse into Phoenix's past. As Nadine Arroyo reports, the loved ones buried there have not been forgotten.

Nadine Arroyo: This piece of land is a piece of -- it's called Cementerio Lindo, or pretty cemetery. Nestled in a community at 15th Avenue and interstate 17 in south Phoenix. An estimated 7,000 people are buried here. Along them are --

Feliciano Herrera Odoñez: My mother gave birth to a set of twins. We are poor and living in poverty. During that time, the twins were born and very short-lived and so they were buried here in this cemetery. I was only 11 so I don't really recall where exactly they are, but I know it's in this cemetery.

Nadine Arroyo: Cementerio Lindo, it's believed to be the first cemetery of Maricopa County and served as a cemetery for poor immigrants. When the gates closed, those buried here were forgotten, until recently. A community based group dedicated to preserving old cemeteries throughout the city of Phoenix has urged the city to restore the land and begin identifying the people buried by notifying the valley about its effort. One of hundreds of people thus far who have come forward to talk about his connection to Cementerio Lindo and many like him are not sure where their loved ones are located because after years of the cemetery being closed, people have vandalized the area. Most of the headstones have been removed or sunk into the ground.

Frank Barrios: We don't know their names or where they're located. Some we do, but the majority we don't. We're trying to contact people who have somebody buried here and with funding from the city of Phoenix, we're going to put in a monument with the names of those buried here.

Nadine Arroyo: Norma and her brother decided to visit the cemetery out of curiosity.

Norma Moore: I remember when it was clean and kept up and just -- and when they first built the freeway here and we would pass with my family and my mother would make note so and so was buried here.

Nadine Arroyo: It's said that restoring the cemetery will cost $250,000 in bond money and members the pioneer cemetery group say their effort is not only to identify the people buried but to preserve a historical cemetery. For families means much more to these families. They say it's about preserving families.

Feliciano Herrera Odoñez: I would expect to find out anything related to my relatives, the two I have here. Absolutely.

Norma Moore: It just really talks to heritage. Family, you know? Because all of those that came before us and shaped us into who we are today. It talks of your heritage.

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