Saturday, September 09, 2006

$5,000 raised to help preserve Fry Cemetery

[Source: Amanda Baillie, Sierra Vista Herald/Review] -- Volunteers trying to preserve one of the few remaining historic sites in the city have now raised more than $5,000. Thanks to a $500 donation from Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, coupled with contributions from members of the community, the Fry Pioneer Cemetery Committee received more than $1,100 in August. Its fund now stands at $5,310.22. The money is being raised to help buy the burial site, located north of Fry Boulevard between Sixth Street and Seventh Street, which is owned by a member of the Fry family, now living in California. It is home to at least 200 graves of the early settlers of Sierra Vista and contains the Fry family plot.

The committee also has applied to have the graveyard placed on the list of Arizona Historical Sites. A packet, which includes letters of support from local residents who have relatives buried in the cemetery, as well as from members of the Fry family and Gov. Janet Napolitano, has been sent to the State Historic Preservation Office in Phoenix. “This sacred property is significant for its association with local and state history, and it illustrates the positive interaction of European-American settlers with Hispanic and African-American natives and immigrants in the development of the state of Arizona,” said committee chairman Tom Shupert in a letter to Kathryn Leonard, National Register coordinator. “This human burial ground merits the respect, reverence and protection of Sierra Vista, Fort Huachuca and surrounding communities — actually the entire state of Arizona.”

At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, the committee also heard that its application for a $50,000 grant from the Tohono O’odham Nation, which distributes profits from its casinos, was unsuccessful. However, representatives from the Yaqui nation in Tucson say they are considering visiting Sierra Vista, as it is believed there may be at least two members of the tribe buried in the cemetery. They would like to establish whether this claim is true, Shupert said. In the meantime, genealogists Golden Ferguson and Julie Shellberg have started work on finding more information on the 200 people known to be buried in the cemetery.