Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chinese Section of the Globe Cemetery

One of my uncles recalls a Chinese family in Globe that was engaged in the laundry business when he was a kid in the 1940's. But the Chinese migrated to America in the hopes of riches like everyone else around the turn of the 19th century and were engaged in several lines of work. The single men worked on the railroads and some went to the mines. Some intermarried with Hispanic women and established families. The number of Chinese in Arizona never attained the numbers that immigrated to California so they lived in very small groups and did not become large societies with a cultural support systems. So the small faction of Chinese in a small town like Globe were productive, industrious workers or shop keepers that learned to blend in and remain low key. When they died, though, separate they became again in Globe. The Chinese have a separate section where they have buried their dead in Globe for 100 years.

Old Pirtleville Cemetery

Owned by the Diocese of Tucson, no one has been buried here for over 50 years. Located just North of the Mexico border at the intersection of U.S. Route 666 and Oak Avenue (Hwy 191), the people buried here are real pioneers of Arizona who lived here when Arizona was still a territory. It would be accurate to note that 95% of the people buried here are Mexican. They came to work in the smelter in Douglas, AZ.

Pirtleville's terrain is flat, harsh, hot and dusty. When the wind blows in the summer it sears your skin from the sheer heat. There are very few granite or marble headstones. If you see one it was placed by descendants of the deceased many years after their demise. Mostly, iron crosses and handwritten plaques commemorate those lying here. Cement frames may outline the grave. Cement and iron have weathered the elements. Wooden crosses and headstones have not fared so well. Most of them are in a seriously deteriorating state. But I love the wooden crosses because they are as natural an element of this environment as the heat and the wind. They seem to grow out of the very dirt they rise from.

This cemetery was featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not because of the custom of some choosing to be buried facing the South towards Mexico awaiting the Resurrection and return to their homeland. The wooden cross of Plutarco Robles above has the the common inscription, Q.E.P.D., "que en paz descanse" which translates, "rest in peace".