© 2017 Loveland Historical Society

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Louis Papa & Lucas Brandt

Mariano Medina Family Cemetery

The Medina family’s cemetery is located in southwest Loveland approximately one half mile south of his settlement and slightly west of the Cherokee/Overland Trail, just north of the corner of 1st Street and Namaqua Road.  Mariano was an old trapper and Army scout, and was the first permanent settler in the Big Thompson Valley.  He was responsible for several other “firsts” in the valley: business (ferry and toll bridge), settlement, school, church, and cemetery.  

 

“The cemetery was viewed with curiosity mixed with respect by settlers (and travelers), who expressed surprise at finding it so well kept in such an uncivilized land." (Mariano Medina, Colorado Mountain Man by Zethyl Gates). 

 

The earliest grave at the Medina family cemetery was of a family friend buried prior to 1864. This was followed by two of Mariano’s children in 1864. The cemetery was surrounded by a dry stacked stone wall that was kept neatly whitewashed. The entrance was topped with a blue cross, a symbol of Mariano’s and his wife Tacnecy’s (Flathead tribe) Catholic faith.  

There was a total of eight burials at this site. In 1878 Mariano was buried outside the wall because there

was no longer space inside. A son from his second marriage was also buried next to Mariano outside the cemetery walls. From 1942 to 1946 local historian Harold Dunning placed new headstones on four of the gravesites. In 1960, under court order and under a veil of secrecy, the cemetery was officially closed, with removal of the wall and disinterment and then reinterment of five of the eight graves to the new Namaqua Park. At this site there are markers for Mariano Medina, his wife, a daughter, a boy, and a friend.

The Loveland Historical Society was given the property in 2009 by a conscientious developer, and has since been concerned with preservation and sensitive restoration of the valley’s first cemetery.  The Mariano Medina Family Cemetery has been placed on the State and Local Historic Register, as declared by the plaque on the side of the large stone at the property entrance.  The stone is also 

Mariano Medina family headstones
Mariano Medina headstone

a repository for a plaque donated by the Oregon-California Trails Association, Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter, which tells about the important trails in the area.

Through the generous donations of many local businesses, families, individuals, and the City of Loveland, in 2016 a protective fence was installed around the cemetery.  Natural stone seating has been placed facing the original cemetery gate.  Upright stones listing donors’ names have been placed.  An old grain wagon has been donated by Colorado State University (CSU), a fitting tribute to the trails which routed through the site and to one aspect of Mariano’s multi-faceted business acumen.

A guided tour will reveal Loveland Historical Society's theory that although county records show Mariano Medina was moved to Namaqua Park in 1960 when the cemetery was closed, his body and others actually remain here at the original family cemetery.  Email bmeirath1@aol.com or sadanhau@gmail.com for a private or group guided tour.  

The restoration work in progress summer 2016
Just a few stones remained in 1975 when Namaqua Elementary School was built
1902 photo of Medina cemetery
Louis Papa, Lucas Brandt and others at cemetery entrance 1920s

Click any image to enlarge