Tomb raider? Parts missing from founder’s resting place
George Crawford, Grand Junction’s founder, needs your help. OK, not George personally, but the group working on the restoration of his tomb.
Crawford’s tomb is on top of the hill south of the municipal cemetery on Orchard Mesa.
I have been working with a group to restore the tomb, and our group is hoping that maybe you, or someone you know, might have information about some of the elements missing from the tomb.
A little background:
In researching the project, a wonderfully clear picture was located. I phoned Dave Bailey, curator of history at the Museum of Western Colorado, to see if he could help locate the picture that I and others had seen. It showed orbs on the top of the front columns.
Dave came up with a picture that was much better than the one I remembered. It appears to have been taken shortly after completion of the tomb because the stone and grounds appear to be in A-1 shape. But what is really great about this picture is that it shows not only the orbs but the stone nameplate and the iron gate at the front of the tomb.
The orbs, nameplate and iron gate are the items we are searching for.
Crawford died in 1891 and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery at the Orchard Mesa Cemetery.
In the news story of Crawford’s death, the writer noted that Crawford had stipulated in his will that he wanted to be buried on the hill looking down on Grand Junction. I found a copy of his will in the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s records, read it, and found no mention that he wanted to be buried on the hill.
I was also told that Crawford had written his wish in a letter to someone. I have never been able to find that letter.
It wasn’t until the early part of 1898 that Monroe Allison and Crawford’s nephew, Charles Rich, executors of Crawford’s estate, purchased the property on top of the hill overlooking Grand Junction and had Crawford’s tomb built.
In July 1898 a story ran in The Daily Sentinel that Crawford’s remains were going to be moved from the Masonic Cemetery to the present tomb on the hill overlooking the city.
The tomb came under the care of the Mesa County Treasurer and Public Trustees because the trustees appointed for Gov. Crawford’s estate died without designating other trustees.
In 1956, a deed to the city of Grand Junction was prepared by Assistant District Attorney Amos Raso, and Crawford’s tomb was conveyed to the city of Grand Junction.
Frank A. Hoisington, a Grand Junction city councilman, accepted the property as a reminder of the history of Crawford and Grand Junction.
There have been many speculations about what became of the orbs, nameplate and iron gate. Perhaps someone thought it would be fun to knock the orbs off the top to see how far down the hill they would roll.
It is possible that the stone nameplate was removed to put up the metal one that was in place for a few years. A picture did run in the Sentinel of the metal nameplate that had ended up in a ditch. Perhaps the metal plate wasn’t replaced, put in storage at the city’s shop and later sold at one of the yard sales the city had after cleaning out a warehouse.
Perhaps the iron gate was ripped from its hinges and now resides in a flower garden as a trellis for sweet peas at your neighbor’s house.
If a reader knows the whereabouts of any of these objects or has any information on Crawford, please get in touch with me. We can’t offer a reward, just our thanks for putting George’s tomb back together again.