The influential citizens of Denver’s society were most often buried elsewhere, leaving the graveyard to burials of the poor, criminal, and diseased. Cheesman Park is located in central Denver, southeast of downtown. Horrified, I said, “Shouldn’t you be in the hospital?”, Shaking his head, he answered, “They let me go because I didn’t have any money.”, He then warned us to watch out for “them” and stated several times:  “I’m going to get them!”. The hospital, more often referred to as a “pest house,” was where smallpox victims were quarantined, along with others having contagious diseases and some that were merely sick, elderly, or handicapped. Turning circles around a thin pale man, dressed in what appeared to be a shredded hospital gown covered with blood, the pair moved toward us. I live and work only blocks from the infamous Cheesman Park in Denver, Colorado and I’ve heard stories of its haunted nature but never thought much of it. But, Denver grew past its mining and railroad hub town needs into a burg with more amenities, power, and prestige. What lurks beneath the surface of Denver’s beautiful Cheesman Park? A report in 1866 stated that 626 persons were buried in the cemetery. Which brings us to this century. Along the tour you’ll hear haunting tales and hair-raising first accounts of paranormal activity. Pavillion at Cheesman Park in Denver, Colorado by Carol Highsmith. Cheesman Park is located at Franklin and 8th Streets and is open from dawn until 11:00 p.m. ©Kathy Weiser – Legends of America, updated October 2019. Vincent Scully, former Yale University art historian, described the 1898 Cheesman Park as one of the finest urban spaces in America. The Health Commissioner immediately began an investigation into the matter and as a result, Mayor Rogers terminated the contract. These experiences became the basis for a 1980 Hollywood horror film called The Changeling.. (Last Privacy Policy Update July 2020), Byways & Historic Trails – Great Drives in America, Soldiers and Officers in American History, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado, Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Massachusetts. There are thousands of bodies under this popular Denver park from its time as a city cemetery. Having arrived in Denver to allegedly settle a dispute with his brother-in-law, he ended up shooting the man on April 7, 1859. The town then turned to contractor E.P. The contractor who was tasked with moving the graves was paid by the casket. Your email address will not be published. Many were never moved and are still on the grounds. Colorado Experience investigates. It's no secret in Denver that Cheesman Park and the Denver Botanic Gardens sit on land that once served as cemetery grounds. The ‘guy’ said to him, “Have you seen my wife?” and he disappeared into a bush; as if he walked right through it. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. A couple of days later, Rooker shot O’Neil down as he passed by the door of the Western Saloon. Our cookies are delicious. Today, these restless spirits are still said to occupy the park as dozens of tales continue to be told of paranormal activities taking place. Your email address will not be published. On April 9, 1859, he was hanged from a cottonwood tree at the intersection of 10th and Cherry Creek Streets. There are thousands of bodies under this popular Denver park from its time as a city cemetery. Over time, separate areas of the cemetery were designated for various religious, organizational, and ethnic groups, such as the Odd Fellows, Society of Masons, Roman Catholics, Jewish, the Grand Army of the Republic, and a far away segregated section for the Chinese, near the pauper’s graves. The pavilion continues to stand today. The outermost edge of the cemetery was reserved for criminals and paupers, while the middle class was to be interred somewhere in between. There have been numerous stories of ghostly encounters in and around the park (The Changeling was based on experiences the author had at a mansion near the park). Haunted history: from cemetery to Cheesman Park Kelly Jensen DENVER - The 80 acres of Cheesman Park where today dog-walkers, joggers, and outdoor enthusiasts gather, … The History. During this 1.5 hour interactive walking ghost tour you will uncover the eerie history behind the park (Denver’s first city cemetery).. The Thompson-Henry Mansion in Cheeseman Park, which was originally built in 1905 for Alonzo Thompson, has been listed for sale at $4.5 million. That's a lot of unsettled souls who might still be searching for their heads ... and feet ... and arms ... well, you get the picture. "The Denver Republican newspaper ran a story on March 19, 1893, with a headline that read: 'The Work of Ghouls!' In 1881, a “hospital” for those suffering from smallpox was established just south of the Jewish Cemetery. McGovern was to provide a “fresh” box for each body and transfer it to the Riverside Cemetery at a cost of $1.90 each. Some legends even tell of homesteaders who began to live upon the land. The Roman Catholic area was sold to the Archdiocese and named Mount Calvary Cemetery, although the Catholic Church eventually sold the land back to the city in 1950. Though officially annexed in the year of 1883, many of the plats in the city go back to the year of 1868. But beneath Cheesman Park lies an eerie history, unearthed from time to time by city workers. In its earliest years, it was a neighborhood where the wealthy resided in immense and gorgeous mansions. In 1950, the Catholic Church moved the remains of those interred in the Mount Cavalry Cemetery and sold the land back to the city, which is now the location of Denver’s Botanical Gardens. Cheesman Park has been a fancy-pants part of Denver for years…at least since it stopped being Mt. Prospect gained yet another nickname when a popular professional gambler named Jack O’Neill was gunned down outside of a saloon in March 1860. This week, it’s time to fact-check this ghost story! He then lifted his sleeves to show us what looked like very deep stab wounds in his arms, back, and chest. To prepare for the park, families had 90 days to remove the bodies of their loved one. Two years later, in 1909, Gladys Cheesman-Evans, and her mother, Mrs. Walter S. Cheesman, donated a marble pavilion in memory of Denver pioneer, Walter Cheesman. Afterward, his body, along with his brother’s were dumped into the same grave at the edge of the cemetery. The second man buried at the cemetery was a Hungarian immigrant named John Stoefel. When McGovern was finally pulled off the job, he had only managed to move about 1,000 bodies (with various body parts in different coffins). The gruesome work began on March 14, 1893, before an audience of curiosity-seekers and reporters. The Dark History of Cheesman Park By Amanda H. King 2. Lee worked at King Soopers, a supermarket near Cheesman Park and lived in an apartment right across the street from the park. It's my favorite park, you may say. The Dark History of Cheesman Park 1. Geography. Moments later we were surprised when we saw a kid riding a bicycle with a chain dangling from his pocket. McGovern to remove the remains in 1893. For the first few days, the transfer was orderly. But if you dig a little deeper, literally, you will exhume an interesting, and pretty creepy, piece of Denver history and few buried secrets, too. We use cookies. I ‘ve visited Cheesman Park on numerous occasions with friends, but none of them told me about the graves that still exist there. Lee is also fascinated with ghosts. The Park has inexact borders, as it is framed on 3 sides by private residences, but is located in center of the Cheesman Park neighborhood, between Humboldt Street on the west, Race Street and Denver Botanic Gardens on the east, 13th Avenue on the north, and 8th Avenue on the south. It was originally a cemetery. Many were never moved and are still on the grounds. He said he was spoken to there by what he said was a ‘middle-aged guy wearing ripped up pants, no shirt, and a cowboy hat. Mount Prospect Cemetery opened on the 160-acre site in 1858. Residents in the nearby neighborhood report seeing distraught apparitions, hear knocking on the walls, and some have even seen a woman holding her severed head sitting in their dining room. When the Denver Republican got hold of the story, its headline proclaimed on March 19, 1893: “The Work of Ghouls!”  The article described, in detail, McGovern’s practice of hacking up what were sometimes intact remains of the dead and stuffing them into undersized boxes. Cheesman park is one of the oldest parks in the Denver area. Back in the raucous, early days of Denver, the gold rush brought over 100,000 prospectors, entrepreneurs, and more to the city with dreams of striking it rich. Cheesman park is one of the oldest parks in the Denver area. When the majority of bodies remained unclaimed, the City of Denver awarded a contract to undertaker E.P. The article described how McGovern hacked up what were sometimes intact remains of the dead and stuffed them into child-size coffins, stating, 'The line of desecrated graves at the southern boundary of the cemetery sickened and horrified everybody by the appearance they presented. The contractor who was tasked with moving the graves was paid by the casket. The section once used as the Chinese cemetery was used as the city tree and shrub nursery until 1930 when a WPA project converted it to an addition for Congress Park. In addition, it's said on moonlit nights, if you stand on the west steps of the pavilion the grave-filled cemetery of the 19th century will appear before you. The donation was conditional that part of the park be designated as Cheesman Park and so it was. To say the least, we were petrified! I don't really need help but I do need to tell this story, even though it's not all that dramatic. Prospect and in recognition, Teller immediately renamed the area Congress Park. I believe him. In its earliest years, it was a neighborhood where the wealthy resided in immense and gorgeous mansions. When the Rocky Mountain News printed the story, the cemetery also became known as “Jack O’Neil’s Ranch.”. Shadows From Beyond the Grave: The Ghost Lore of Cheesman Park Cheesman Park is located in central Denver, southeast of downtown. These experiences became the basis for a 1980 Hollywood horror film called The Changeling.. Afterward, the city built a temporary wooden fence around the cemetery, leaving it in shambles with open holes still displayed. Last week, I wrote about Russell Hunter’s paranormal experiences while renting a Denver home near Cheesman Park in the late 1960s. In 1872, the U.S. Government determined that the property upon which the cemetery sat was federal land, having been deeded to the government in an 1860 by a treaty with the Arapaho Indians. After receiving these many nicknames, the cemetery never gained the respect that Larimer intended for it to have. Last month, workers digging a new irrigation system … A singing woman can be heard and seen at night. The History. That all sounds fairly normal, considering we're talking about the dead. 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