The following article appeared in the Bozeman Chronicle and describes the project to erect a monument as a way of preserving a part of Bozeman's past--countless early residents who are buried in unmarked graves at the Sunset Hills Cemetery.
Local history group looks to honor historical unmarked burial site By Shaylee Hagar
There’s a patch of land in the Sunset Hills Cemetery that’s free of gravestones, but the plots aren’t empty. The site is a mass burial from the late 1800s for people who didn’t have the means or connections to have marked graves. But a passerby wouldn’t know it. The Mount Hyalite Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution would like to change that. The group is spearheading a project to install a permanent monument on the site to honor the unnamed people buried there. Bond and Cheryl Genovese, members of the chapter, learned of the burial site last spring while on a historical tour of the cemetery sponsored by the Gallatin County Genealogical Society. They thought installing a monument would be a perfect project for their organization. “Their stories are lost to history, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give them honor and respect,” Bond said. The chapter aims to raise $5,000 to pay for the memorial, and is applying for a grant through the national Daughters of the American Revolution. Bond and Genovese plan on commissioning a monolith for the memorial with an engraving explaining its purpose. It’ll sit on two cemetery plots — one has been donated by the city and another will be purchased by the group. The women have consulted experts from the Gallatin History Museum and the Extreme History Project to learn as much as they can about the site. They learned that one of the graves holds the ashes of 25 people who worked on a poor farm south of town. Genovese said she personally understands the importance of a project like this. She had ancestors who lived in England who were too poor to pay for a proper burial. While on a trip to the area, Genovese found the site of a mass burial where some of her family was laid to rest, and she was happy to see a memorial. “It meant a lot to me that someone took the time to recognize the site and put a monument there,” Genovese said. The Daughters of the American Revolution aim to preserve history, promote education and encourage patriotism. Aligned with those goals, Bond said she hopes the project will add to the collective knowledge of Bozeman history. “This is exactly the kind of thing that’s in our wheelhouse,” Bond said. Donations for the project can be made at gofundme.com/bozeman-unknowns-cemetery-project
In summer 2020 the NSDAR awarded Mount Hyalite a National Historical Preservation Grant and with this and generous donations from chapter members, the Gallatin County Genealogy Society, and local businesses, the chapter was able to purchase and install the monument to Bozeman's unknown dead on November 7, 2020. The planned reception has been postponed until spring/summer 2021 because of the Pandemic.
Mount Hyalite Chapter usually participates in the Memorial Day Parade and in the ceremony following the parade at the cemetery. We showcase Constitution Week through a display in the First Security Bank on Main Street. In November we fill bags for veterans in local assisted living and nursing facilities. Members volunteer in veteran organizations such as Warriors in Quiet Waters and Adopt-A-Sox. In addition, our chapter programs often deal with patriotic topics.
Our chapter has donated scrapbooks and pictures to the Gallatin County History Museum for preservation. We joined with the museum and with the Historical Society in Three Forks to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the DAR marker in honor of Sacajawea in Three Forks, Montana, and mapped the other DAR markers in Montana for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We have placed a DAR memorial marker on the grave of Ella Martin, our founding regent, and have explored the site of Fort Parker. We are also actively involved in on-going conservation activities such as tree planting and recycling.
Mount Hyalite Chapter sponsors both the DAR Good Citizen Contest and the American History Essay Contest. We have had participation from many schools throughout the county and had the 2015 state winner for the 7th grade essay contest. We are supporting the President General’s Project and helping DAR education projects through our contribution of soup labels and box tops. We have also donated books about history and the Constitution to local schools and the Bozeman Public Library.
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Last modified: September 7, 2021