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This is the history of not only the Double Butte Cemetery but of Tempe, Maricopa, Arizona.  It is to this town that my great grandfather, my daughter's great great grandfather Theodor Franz Carl Mohle Bolzau, known as Charles Bolzau after he came to America, finally settled in 1870 after leaving his homeland of Germany.

It is here in Tempe that he met and married my great grandmother, my daughter's great great grandmother Jennie Gatke.  They settled down and purchased 320 acres of land in Tempe.  There were three children born to this union, Moritz, Henriette and my grandmother, my daughter's great grandmother Meta Louise.  Charles Bolzau lived in Tempe for twenty years prior to his death.  His wife Jennie and her family arrived in Phoenix, Arizona sometime in the mid 1870's, after leaving Prussia, Germany in 1855.  The Gatke and Bolzau families were among the first settlers in this new territory that finally became the state of Arizona.

Charles and Jennie Bolzau were well respected in the community of Tempe before they're untimely deaths in September of 1889.   They were buried, along with their son Moritz who died in 1900, in Double Butte Cemetery in Tempe, Arizona.   Because they were so much a part of the early history of Tempe, we decided to do a history on Tempe and of Double Butte Cemetery their final resting place.

Entrance To
Double Butte Cemetery




Tempe Resident and Arizona Governor Howard Pyle called Double Butte Cemetery "Tempe's Arlington" because of the many prominent early Tempe families buried there.   These include Hayden, Miller, Gregg, Moeur, Laird and Gilliland, to name a few.   The cemetery was started on September 13, 1887, when a group of citizens formed the Tempe Cememtery Association.   Land owner Niels Petersen donated the property for the cemetery in 1888.   Other prominent Tempe residents associated with the management of the cemetery include Joseph Birchett, who landscaped and organized the property in the 1920's, and E. P. Carr. Sr., who served on the cemetery board for many years.   The cemetery was turned over to the City of Tempe management in 1958; in 1998, the city turned the cemetery over to a private management firm.   The City purchased the cemetery back in early 2000, and established the Double Butte Cemetery Advisory Commission to help manage the cemetery.

Dating from 1888, the Double Butte Cemetery is an excellent example of 19th century planning of cemeteries in the Salt River Valley.   Much of the early Landscaping remains in the form of tree-lined avenues.   Carved Standing headstones are significant for their artistry and craftsmanship.   Furthermore, the cemetery is signifcant as an important element of the physical development of Tempe as a community.

Tempe's "Arlington" today, this desert patch, is easy to miss, a century of Tempe history overshadowed by a mountainside resort and a baseball stadium, overrun at times by the sounds of a buzzing freeway.

But Double Butte Cemetery has survived, the final home of politicians, visionaries and soldiers.   Faded and crumbling in parts, it's the resting place of Tempe's notables and unknowns.

There are no plots left for sale, only a memorial garden.   And there's no perpetual fund.   The city pays about $100,000 annually in operatin costs and brings in as little as $10,000 to $15,000 a year in burial fees.

There's talk of adding plots though that would be years away if it's even possible financially.   In the short term, volunteers are planning improvements to the entrance, memorial gardens and signs.

The twenty-five acre cemetery sits near the base of scenic Double Butte along Interstate 10.   Today, the cemetery is part desert and part grassy garden.   The main entrance off Broadway Road is shaded by rows of olive trees, and narrow roads wind through the property past desert flora.

Plain and inexpensive square markers mix with ornate and unconventional headstones, a towering cross made of colorful native stone, a pillar etched with a fraternal organization's trademark tree stump.   One plot is surrounded by a simple white fence with a memorial written in Spanish; another is marked with black Victorian-style iron posts.

Nearly 12,000 people are buried at Double Butte Cemetery.   Of Tempe's ninety-one early pioneers, all but nine are there.   Scattered among those who are buried there are farmers, Army privates, housewives and merchants.

For those whose land gave way to progress years ago, Double Butte Cemetery is the only remaining link to their past.


In 1866 Charles Trumbell Hayden brought to the area a vision of what would become Tempe.   Hayden a businessman from Tucson, started out for Fort Whipple near Prescott with a freight wagon laden with goods to sell to the army there.   In Florence he inquired about a place to cross the Salt River to the north.   He was told of one of the few crossings with a rock bottom that allowed fording the Salt.   The ford was reported to be near a butte with two peaks, resembling a diving whale.

On his fourth day out Hayden camped at the base of the butte.   The next morning the Salt River was wide and swift with the muddy waters caused by heavy rains in the mountains to the east.   There was little that Hayden could do, so he climbed the butte.   He loooked out upon the area and saw the possibility of a great agricultural empire and the need for businesses to serve future residents.   "If the Pima could make this part of the world abound with wheat, so could he by irrigating the land as the Indians did."

When the river subsided, Hayden proceeded to Fort Whipple and then returned to Tucson.

During the next few years he began to hear of activities in the area.   People from Mexico had begun to settle in the area. In 1869 Winchester Miller moved to the area.   Miller was active in Tempe for many years and held many important positions.

Shortly after the arrival of Winchester Miller, William H. Kirkland and James B. McKinney started digging an irrigation canal to bring water from the Salt to the south side of the river.

Between 1866 and 1870 Hayden apparently made several other trips to the area.   On one such occassion he and four other men served notice in The Arizona Miner that they were laying claim to 10,000 inches of water to be measured under two inches of pressure from the Salt River.   By this action they formed the Hayden Milling and Farming Ditch Company. Documents were filed on November 21, 1870.

By the time Charles T. Hayden returned to Tempe and began establishing his mill and irrigation ditch company, Hispanic settlers were working their own farms in the area.   They served as the nucleus of a work force for clearing land and digging irrigation ditches for others.   These people had come primarily from Tucson, Tubac and the Altar Valley of northern Sonora, Mexico.

It was into this area that my great grandfather, my daughter's great great grandfather Charles (Carl) Bolzau arrived in 1870.  We know that he left Germany on the ship Bremen, with the captain Neynaber, from the port of Bremen with the arrival date of October 9, 1866 in the United States.   Whe he arrived in Tempe, in 1870, he acquired 320 acres of land with water rights, an irrigation ditch, running through his properties.   One hundred and sixty acres was located in township; 1 north, Route; 5 east, section; 16; the other 160 acres was located in township: 1 north, route; 5 east, section; 12.

EARLY AGRICULTURE - Hayden also established a ferry across the river, a raft of cottonwood logs taken from the banks of the river.   This was done with the help of people of Mexican origin and native-American people residing in the area.   He stretched a cable across the river, and the ferry was used when the river was too high and swift for residents to ford.   A post office was established in Hayden's store in 1872.

In 1872 a group of Hispanic people, many of them among Hayden's employees, established the community of San Pablo on the south side of the butte, east of Hayden's enterprises.   The land for San Pablo was either donated by or purchased from William H. Kirkland. Kirkland was engaged in the construction of Tempe's first irrigation canal, the Kirkland McKinney canal.

Funds riased by the sale of lots in San Pablo were used to build a Catholic Church, considered the first public building in Tempe, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.   As the decades passed, the area that had been known as San Pablo was surrounded as Tempe grew.   In 1957, the few remaining buildings became part of the campus of Arizona State University.

As families began moving into Tempe, the need for a school increased.   It was reported in 1870 that children attended a school in an adobe building on University Drive in the vicinity of McAllister Road.

Another report tells that the first Tempe grammar school began in an adobe building on Mill Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets.   This building reportedly had been a saloon. Official records indicate that Tempe Elementary School District Number Three was established for 43 children by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in April of 1874.   An election was held on April 25, 1874, and W. R. Osborn, William Arnett and Mr. Willey were elected trustees.

The community built its first school in 1878 on the southeast corner of Mill and University on land given by the Hayden family.   Citizens of Tempe helped build the school, which was 20 feet by 40 feet.   Furniture was built by Jim Basto with lumbed hauled from Prescott.

FIRST RAILROAD - Early railroads crossed Arizona from east to west across northern and southern Arizona.   The closest rail station to early Tempe was at Maricopa Wells on the Southern Pacific line nearly 40 miles to the south.   Freight was hauled to the rail line in wagons and passengers took the stage to Maricopa Wells in order to travel to Los Angeles, El Paso and points in between.   On July 1887, the Phoenix and Maricopa Railroad arrived in Tempe with much fanfare.   The railroad enabled Tempe to become a major shipping point.   It became an important cattle feeding and shipping point in the Salt River Valley for many years.

The railroad trestle was the first bridge across the Salt River.   Settlers in the area continued to ford the river and to cross on Hayden's Ferry until until the first "people bridge" was completed in south Phoenix more than 20 years later.   The first bridge for Tempe was completed in 1913 with the help of convicts from the State Prison in Florence.

In 1885, the thirteenth Territorial Legislature and the people of Arizona identified three new insititutions required to meet the needs of the territory; a university, a home for the mentally insane and a normal school to train teachers.   The home for the mentally ill was considered a "plum" because of the relatively large amount of money required to build it.   Arizona's largest community, Tucson, wanted the university located there.   At the same time, Charles T. Hayden set his sights on having the normal school located in Tempe.

TEMPE NORMAL SCHOOL - This is the school where my grandmother, my daughter's great grandmother, daughter of Charles (Carl) and Jennie Gatke Bolzau, Meta Louise Bolzau Hazelton graduated from.


Campus Scene

South Hall

Boys Dormitory

The bill to create the Normal School provided $5,000 for construction and $3,500 for two years operation expenses.   However, the community of Tempe had to donate a site to the Territory for the school.   Originally the bill had required a donation of only five acres.   Funds were raised in Tempe to purchase five acres of the pasture of George and Martha Wilson for $500.   But apparently uknown opponents to the idea of a normal school raised the requirement to 20 acres before the bill was finalized.   In the spirit that has charcterized so many of the citizens of Tempe, then and throughout the history of Tempe, the Wilsons gave up their entire 20 acres.   In reality, they endowed the new school with 15 acres.

Construction of the first building was begun in the fall of 1885; it was completed in 1886.   Board members were C. T. Hayden, James Campbell and Thomas Butler of Prescott.   Hiram Bradford Farmer was the first principal.   In fact, he was also the faculty and staff.   Farmer taught refresher courses to the first students, algebra, philosphy, Latin, literature, debate, speech, American Constitiution and physiology.   From an annual salary of $2,300 he bought chalk and other supplies.   Farmer also maintained the campus and Tempe Normal's first four-room building.   The school year was sixteen weeks long.   For many, the Normal School was the only education available beyond the eight grade.   Upon completion of one and two year courses of study, graduates were granted teaching certificates for life.   There were five graduates in the first graduating class of 1887.

The efforts to bring the Normal School to Tempe have had a profound effect on Tempe.   Through the years the school grew in size and importance.   In 1925, it became Tempe State Teachers College and was authorized to offer a four-year course leading to a Bachelor's Degree in Education.   Several other name changes followed and in 1958 the people of Arizona voted overwhelmingly to change it to Arizona State University.

THE TEMPE NEWS - Curt W. Miller took over the paper in September of 1887, changing its name shortly thereafter to the Tempe News.   Miller began a long career serving his community.   He was editor of the paper for 55 years, was postmaster, mayor, town clerk, emember of the Board of Tempe Normal School, member of the Governing Board of Tempe Elemntary School District, chairman of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Captain of Company C of the Territorial National Guard and chief clerk of two sessions of the Arizona Territorial Legislature.

In 1887, two Tombstone residents L. W. Blinn and E. B. Gage took the steps necessary to transform Tempe from a sleepy rural village.   They organized the Tempe Land and Improvement Company and acquired a total of 705 acres of land from Charles T. Hayden and from The Mormon settlers who had relocated in Mesa.

The firm surveyed and laid out the property in blocks and lots for sale.   A real estate firm was engaged to romote the sale of land.   Advertising pamphlets and a colorful view map by C. J. Dyer were prepared to enhance the prospects of settlers and investors.

As the Normal School began its course in Tempe's and Ariona's history, businesses grew in number.   The Lone Star Saloon was opened on West Fourth Street by Colonel Hilary E. Laird.   Later Laird and Dr. J. A. Dines began a drugstore business which served the community in many ways.   It served as a bookstore for students of Tempe High School until the early 1950's.   It was the center of much social and political activity for over half a century.

Tempe's appearance began to change as public buildings, businesses and some homes were built of fired red brick slowly replacing adobe as the primary building material.   Homes were said to be made beautiful with flowers, shrubs and trees, which grew rapidly.   Cottonwood trees were common, maturing rapidly and easy to grow.   All the residents had to do was stick a branch into the ground, either end would do.   Water was added and the cottonwoods flourished.   In some instances early settlers used cottonwood branches for fence posts.   Often along irrigation ditches, the posts soon sprouted and grew into giant cottonwoods, forming canopies across roads.   Cottonwoods were planted to furnish shade and to supply wood for cooking and for heating the homes of early Tempe residents.

EARLY CHURCHES - Churches soon followed saloons in Tempe.   Early Hispanic settlers dedicated their adobe chapel on the south side of Tempe Butte on March 10, 1881.   This chapel was used for 20 years.   All remains of the building are lost to time and development, but Tempe native and long-time resident, Ophelia Celaya, was baptized in the chapel soon after her birth in 1893.   She remembers that to reach the church her family had to cross the Hayden Ditch as its waters flowed toward the Hayden Flour Mill.

Tempe's first physician, Dr. John Gregg, a devout Southern Methodist, organized a Sunday school soon after his arrival in Tempe.   The "North" Methodist first met in Peters Hall.   This congregation completed its chapel at Maple and Sixth streets in 1888.   In the meantime, Dr. Gregg led efforts to establish a church for Spanish speaking Protestants in Tempe.   A small sactuary was constructed near the present location of the Palo Verde dormitory at ASU.

The Tempe Baptist Church was organized by Dr. Uriah Gregory and T. A. Harmon on February 17, 187, with twelve charter members.   They met in Peters Hall for a short time, dedicating their new church two years later.

Two other Protestant churches were soon founded.   The first Congregational Church was established in 1892.   It was the first church of this denomination in the Salt River Valley.   In 1899 a bell was given to the church by Colonel Price.   It sill rings today, the oldest bell in Tempe.

In 1898 the First Christian Church was incorporated.   Like members of the other early Tempe churches, the small congregation met in various buildings before W. S. Austin paid $232 in back taxes on the lot on the northwest corner of Eighth and Forest.

Tempe, Arizona is like most cities in Arizona and cities throughout the United States with time and progress much change has been made.   We hope that in reading of the early history of Tempe that many of the residents, like our family who are natives of this area, will find it of great interest.   For those of you who have been here many years or just arrived we hope that you may find it of interest also.

We would especially like to thank Mr. John Akers, Curator of History, of the City of Tempe Historical Museum for all of his help and for furnishing us with documentation to make this page possible.  We would also like to acknowledge Ben Furlong and his informative booklet titled, "Tempe, the past, the present, the future, for which excerpts were used for this page; and lastly to Susie Steckner, The Arizona Republic, for her article titled "Tempe's 'Arlington' hidden for which excerpts were also used for this page.



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