History Of Union Fort Cemetery

(Located eight tenths of a mile east on Creek Road. This streets starts from 13th East at about 7400 South (map). A set of pictures from the cemetery is available.)

Rufus Forbush came to the valley in 1847 and he settled on Little Cottonwood Creek just east of the present site of Union, where he had his farm. In the winter he came down to the settlement to live. On August 22, 1851, his wife, Polly Clark Forbush, died at the age of 62. At that time there was no graveyard except in Salt Lake City, so he chose the highest spot of ground on his farm and buried her there. During the winter a severe epidemic of Black Smallpox broke out in Sandy, an adjoining town. When Mr. Forbush went back to his farm in the spring he found that other graves were made upon his land. There was nothing to do but to turn the land over to the community for a cemetery. Some of the graves were left unmarked and several times in later years, when graves were dug, they often run on to a box and had to dig some place else.

Gradually as irrigation on the benches increased, sub-water began to rise, and people began to abandon their lots. Only a few persons have been buried there since the water took over. Jake Galbraith, a southerner wounded in the Civil War and who lived nearby, was the grave digger and sexton for many years. After his health failed the friends of the dead dug the graves free.

Sarah Ann Griffiths Forbush died 9 Nov, 1939, and was the last adult to be buried there. The last baby being buried there was Karen Van Valkenburg in 1942.

The preceding information was given to Leila Brady Nix by Lucy E. Graham ?een, (copy off page), a great grand-daughter of Rufus Forbush.

In later years when cemeteries were established in surrounding communities, the Union Cemetery was almost abandoned. Some of the mounds and many of the wood markers have been destroyed; the headstones were nearly all pushed over and broken by stock or vandals. As all official records of the cemetery have been lost, it is quite impossible to identify the location of all of the graves, with the exception of a few that have been located from conversations with older residents. With the meager information obtained, a plat was made of the cemetery by Leila Nix and Kenneth and Ruth Nix.

It is a matter of dispute among a few, as to whether there may have been a few burials before 1851 on the ground that is now known as the Holladay Memorial Park. As far as records show the second oldest cemetery in this locality was the Cottonwood, it was know as such until about 1910 when it was changed to Murray City Cemetery. The first burial having been of a Thomas (stillborn) on 12 May 1874. The first burial in the Mill Creek Cemetary, now know as Elysian Gardens, was 15 ??? (off copy) 1879. First burial in the Sandy City cemetary was in 1883. The Midvale cemetery in 1895.

In 1932 a project was raised to clean off the cemetery grounds and was found that the W.P.A. would do it for a community project. Eddie Fernstermaker was in charge and it was cleaned up by the cutting of the willows, weeds, etc.

Again on the 6 June 1947, some of the descendants of the Pioneers who were buried there, met at the home of Clarence Wardle to make arrangements to have the cemetery cleaned again and this time to have a fence put around it so that the cattle could not get in; also to fix a bridge so that entrance could be made into the cemetery.

Ezra Pate (father of Ora Pate Stewart) was chosen as chairman and Mrs. Verna ???tor Bishop as secretary, George Nowlan acted as Treasurer and Mrs. Leila Brady ????? was appointed to get what names she could of people buried in the cemetery. Those present at the first meeting were, Ezra Pate, Clifford Nowlan, Clarence and ???Wardle, Kate Brady, Leila Brady Nix, Vina Fenstermaker and Verna Proctor ????op.

An abstract was drawn up by Ezra Pate and Mr. Douglas McChue. It was decided to ask each family, who had people buried there, to contribute to defray the expenses. The cemetery was surveyed; a title and deed made and given to the Union First Ward. Ira Proctor had the ground sprayed and with the help of the County tractors, had the trees and willows dug up by the roots. A work committee cleaned the grounds. The ladies of the committee furnished the men with lunch each day that they worked. A wire fence was placed around the lot and at a later date a plan was made to have a monument placed inside the ground.

On May 30, 1950 at 3 P.M. a short Memorial service was held on the cemetery lot. An application was made for a marker for the monument that was to be built, In the winter of the same year (1950) the Central camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers gave a marker to the Union Camp.

On July 7, 1951 the ground was broken, but it was two weeks before the work began, There is three feet of concrete base in the monument. It was designed by George A. Green and who also did the work with the help of other men of the community. It took 110 hours of work which was all donated. The rock was the best that could be bought for the purpose.

At 6:30 P.M. on August 22, 1951, the 100th anniversary of the first burial there, the monument was unveiled and dedicated in honor of our Pioneers who established the Community and endured the heartaches and trials of those days.


Leila Nix, Mistress-of-Ceremonies

  1. Selection: Male Quartet, Utah, We Love Thee
  2. Unveiling of Monument: Lucy Green Oldest local living descendant of Rufus and Polly Forbush
  3. Dedicatory Prayer: Heber J. Burgon
  4. History of the Cemetery: Edna Proctor
  5. Remarks: Ivy Towers, Monument Chairman, County D.U.P. Camp
  6. Ceremony of Sealing Box in Monument: George Green, Jr.
  7. Remarks: Ella Smith, President, County D.U.P. Camp
  8. Presentation of Monument: Lois Richardson
  9. Acceptance of Monument: Bishop E. H. Belcher
  10. Tribute to the Pioneers: Ora Pate Stewart
  11. Selection: Male Quartet, The Lord's Prayer

Genealogy Collection provided by:
Becky S. Porter, 2493 S. Hulls Crossing, Preston, Idaho 83263

E-Mail: Roland K. Smith