Effort progresses to put names on unmarked graves at Potter’s Field in Del Norte Cemetery

Local efforts to name the unknown graves at the Del Norte Cemetery have become a reality. Resident Deborah Romero teamed with local historians Rosalind Weaver and Polly Cox to put names on the graves in Potter's Field in the Del Norte Cemetery. The crosses will be placed in the middle of May. Courtesy photo

DEL NORTE — For the past year, San Luis Valley resident Deborah Romero in partnership with local historians Rosalind Weaver and Polly Cox have made it their mission to name the many unmarked graves at the Del Norte Cemetery. Through this effort, they have been successful in learning the names of some of the people buried in its Potter’s Field.

Romero found herself head deep into the project last spring after discovering the sad state of Potter’s Field in the Del Norte Cemetery. After seeking out Weaver, Romero was able to glean more information about who may be buried in the unmarked graves and set out to help Weaver finish a project she and Cox had started years before.

“Potter’s Fields are defined as a burial place for paupers and strangers and is usually found in a remote corner of a graveyard. It is reserved for the burial of unknown persons, unclaimed persons, or indigent people. One afternoon, as I walked through the Del Norte Cemetery, an area stood out to me. There were graves marked with rocks and old weathered crosses which drew my attention. I got to thinking about who these souls were and it filled me with empathy. They were once loved and now they were forgotten,” said Romero.

It was at this point that Romero joined forces with Weaver and Cox and they were able to find the names of some of the people in Potter’s Field.

“My mission became giving these souls a name and recognition, to give them an identity. With the help of Rosalind and Polly, that mission has come to fruition. These women spent nearly 20 years researching newspapers, church records, historical records, birth, and death records and through that research found the answers I was seeking,” Romero said.

Through hours of dedication and even more help from members of the community, Romero is ready to place crosses at Potter’s Field in Del Norte this spring. Monte Vista School District woodshop teacher Aaron Woodke and his students donated wood and cut the crosses, Val Alta gave a generous donation and helped purchase paint, and several other members of the community helped with the cross-making process.

Now, Romero is seeking more information and is reaching out to the community for answers. The crosses will be placed at the cemetery in the middle of May as weather and ground conditions allow. A date and time will be set in the coming weeks, and Romero is asking people to help identify more information about the people buried in Potter’s Field.

“This was a group effort, and I am so grateful to be able to give names to those who have been forgotten. Please come out and help us find out more about the people who are buried there,” Romero said.