Article: Current residents, previous tenants share hallowed ground in historic neighborhood

By Henry Brean Arizona Daily Star
Sep 7, 2019

Not long after Moses and Kelly Thompson moved into the historic Dunbar Neighborhood, a sinkhole opened up in front of their house on Perry Avenue, north of downtown.

Thompson thought it was a broken sewer line, so he got a shovel and started to dig. He soon struck wood and something underneath.

Moses Thompson placed a shrine dedicated to two graves found in his front yard. As many as 9,000 people were buried in the Court Street Cemetery at the northern edge of downtown.

“I reached in and pulled out a handful of bones,” he said.

That’s how the Thompsons found out they were living on top of one of Tucson’s earliest graveyards.

As many as 9,000 people were buried at the Court Street Cemetery, which opened in 1875 and closed in 1909.

Seven years later, the first homes were built on the graveyard, which covered eight city blocks from Second Street to Speedway and from Main to Stone.

Many of the bodies were never moved.

“Since 1949, about 50 burials have been found,” said Homer Thiel, a research archaeologist from the consulting firm Desert Archaeology.

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Court Street Cemetery, Dunbar/Spring neighborhood