Greenhill Cemetery, situated less than a block away from the University of Wyoming’s campus, is almost as old as Laramie itself. Once a lawless town that struggled to be governed, Laramie and the surrounding landscape was dotted with various graves wherever people could find an open and available space.
When the first high school was built just beyond Seventh Street, graves of suspected outlaws were found. More graves were found near the intersection of Twelfth and Garfield as well as near Knight Hall and the College of Nursing. Northwest of the Laramie river was a Catholic cemetery and other cemeteries could be found in west Laramie.
By the 1880s, the need for an established city cemetery was recognized and land was obtained from rancher James M. Ingersoll for the proposed cemetery. By 1882, the cemetery began the process of transferring bodies from the various other graves and cemeteries around town. This took time due to the permission required for bodies to be moved, but eventually, all found their way to Greenhill Cemetery.
Over the last 150 years, some of Laramie’s most influential or famous people have been buried in Greenhill Cemetery. This list of well-known families and people includes names such as Grace Raymond Hebard, Thurman Arnold, Samuel H. Knight, Henning Svenson, William H. Holliday, and many others who were known for their contributions to Laramie.
Many of these names can now be found in the collections of the AHC, including those of the Downey Family and Thurman Arnold. Over the next two weeks, these collections, along with those of other influential people, will be highlighted within the exhibits.
Stephen Wheeler Downey (1839-1902) was born in Maryland and was admitted to the bar in 1863. He served in the northern army during the Civil War, attaining the rank of colonel. He married during this time and had two daughters. In 1869 S.W. Downey followed a brother, William O. Downey, to Laramie. His wife died shortly after their arrival, and he married Evangeline Victoria Owen in 1872. Downey practiced law in Laramie and served in the state legislature. He drafted the bill creating the University of Wyoming; and he also attempted to develop several mines in the area. The Downey Family collection contains information on various family members as well as a collection of family history materials.
Thurman Wesley Arnold, the son of lawyer C.P. Arnold, was born in Laramie, Wyoming, and educated at the University of Wyoming, Princeton, and Harvard, where he earned a law degree in 1914. He practiced law briefly in Chicago before serving with the U.S. Army in France during World War I. Arnold was named assistant attorney general of the U.S. in charge of the antitrust division in 1938 and was a Department of Justice representative on the Temporary National Economic Committee from 1938 to 1941. He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1943 and left the bench in 1945 to resume private practice with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold, Fortas & Porter, where he remained active until his death in 1969. The Thurman Wesley Arnold collection contains professional and personal correspondence, biographical information on his family, and other materials related to his work.
The Influential People Buried at Greenhill Cemetery exhibit will run from June 25 to July 9. Exhibits can be viewed in the 4th floor Reading Room of the American Heritage Center. Reading Room hours are Monday 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Tuesday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Don’t forget to join the Greenhill Cemetery Tour on July 6th at 5:30 pm to learn more about the various people that are buried there!
– Submitted by Katey Parris, AHC Reference Department.