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Pioneer Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Central Phoenix isn't known for its sprawling cemeteries, but just off 12th Avenue and Jefferson Street, there's a vast, historic burial ground called the Pioneer Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

The cemetery is one of the oldest in the state, with graves that date back to the mid-1800s. The 11-acre cemetery grounds are the final resting place of several Arizona notables, including civil engineer Thomas A. Hayden, "The Lost Dutchman" Jacob Waltz, and several McClintocks -- the namesake family of the major Phoenix street.

There are thousands of other stories buried beneath these sun-bleached adobe headstones. There are rows of military veteran graves from the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Indian Campaigns, the Spanish American War, and the Philippine Insurgence.

John Tabor Alsap, who was the first probate judge in Phoenix when it became the seat of Maricopa County, is buried here. Pioneer Veterans Memorial Cemetery also houses the plot of cowboy and steer roping champion Wayne Davis, who served as deputy sheriff of Maricopa County under Carl Hayden (and later as an Arizona Ranger) before he died in 1914.

The historic Smurthwaite House, built in 1897, is also on the Pioneer Veterans Memorial Cemetery grounds. The surrounding neighborhood is equally interesting, because in addition to the historic buildings and family-owned Old Station Sub Shop, there's an overflowing homeless shelter right around the corner.

Because of its proximity to the cemetery (and the dirty blankets and broken bottles regularly found on the grounds), there are "No Camping Zone" signs along the cemetery fence, and the cemetery and Smurthwaite House are only open to the public for special events. However, private tours can be arranged by calling 602-534-1262. For more information, visit www.azhistcemeteries.org.

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