Pioneer Cemeteries


Pioneer Cemeteries

Sculpture Gardens of the Old West

Annette Stott

404 pages
83 photographs, map


November 2008


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2008


$36.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

As pioneers attempted to settle and civilize the “Wild West,” cemeteries became important cultural centers. Filled with carved wooden headboards, inscribed local stones, and Italian marble statues, cemeteries functioned as symbols of stability and progress toward a European-inspired vision of Manifest Destiny. As repositories of art and history, these pioneer cemeteries tell the story of communities and visual culture emerging together within the developing landscape of the Old West.

Annette Stott traces this story through Rocky Mountain towns on the western frontier, from the unkempt “boot hills” of the early mining camps and cattle settlements to the more refined “fair mounts.” She shows how people from Asia, Europe, and the Americas contributed to the visual character of the mountain cemeteries, and how the sepulchral garden functioned as an open-air gallery of public sculpture, at once a site for relaxation, learning, and social ritual. Here, widespread participation in a variety of ceremonies brought mountain communities together with a frequency almost unimaginable today. Illustrated with eighty-three striking photographs, this book shows how the pioneer cemetery emerged as a site of public sculpture and cultural transmission in which each carved or molded monument played dual (and sometimes conflicting) public and private roles, recording the community’s history and values while memorializing individuals and events.

Author Bio

Annette Stott is the director of the School of Art and Art History and a professor of art history at the University of Denver. She is the author of Holland Mania: The Unknown Dutch Period in American Art and Culture.


"A moving reminder of the sheer transitory nature of American life."—Thomas McGonigle, ABC of Reading

"Illustrated with more than 80 photographs, this highly readable book shows how the pioneer cemetery emerged as a site of public sculpture."—Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen’s Calendar

"Pioneer Cemeteries is an informative addition to the study of the western built environment, particularly from the less frequently considered realm of public art."—Dena Sanford, Montana, The Magazine of Western History

"This careful study discloses how cemeteries functioned as prominent sites of public art as much as they offered repositories of local history."—J. Decker, CHOICE

"I have never visited any of the cemeteries surveyed in Annette Stott's comprehensive new work, Pioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture Gardens of the Old West, but reading her book is the next best thing to visiting them. The author takes the reader on a vivid, personal tour through dozens of overgrown, long-forgotten burial places in the Rocky Mountain area, as well as the surviving cemeteries that are still active today."
—Marta Christensen Dawes, Nebraska History

"I have taken students to Laramie's Greenhill Cemetery several times for pedagogical reasons. Annette Stott's Pioneer Cemeteries makes me want to go back and look again, to satisfy my own curiosity."—Quincy D. Newell, Annals of Wyoming

Table of Contents



List of Cemeteries     


1. From Boot Hill to Fair Mount: The Transformation of the Western Cemetery

2. Tombstone Carvers and Monument Makers of the Rocky Mountain West    

3. M. Rauh, Riverside Marble Works, and the Gendered Cemetery    

4. Mail-Order Monuments and Other Imports: Rocky Mountain Cemeteries in a National Context     

5. The Cemetery in Western Life    






Finalist for the 2009 Colorado Book Awards - History Category

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