Teller Institute Burial Ground
This page was last modified:
1886 - 1911
There has been ongoing research over the years to attempt to establish the location and burials.
Journal of the Western Slope, Volume 8, No. 3, Summer 1993: pg 19; "The number of persons laid to rest in the school cemetery would be one indication of health conditions at the institute. Unfortunately there is no record of burials and, today, the location of the school's cemetery cannot be ascertained..." **footnote: "The Mesa County Genealogical Society, which has cataloged all known cemeteries in Mesa County, confirms that the Indian School Cemetery has not been located. However , there is documentation that a small number of remains from the Indian School were removed to the Orchard Mesa Cemetery. Conversation with Phyllis George, January 25, 1993."**
The 'Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs' (RCIA) for each year can be found on-line. They are searchable *.pdf files at 'The History Collection of the University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries'. They can be found here. They are fascinating.
From the 17 Sept 1896, Annual Report of Commissioners of Indian Affairs:
There has been renewed interest in the Teller Institutes burial ground with archaeologists considering the use of ground penetrating radar to locate the old burial ground. A presentation was recently given at the Mesa County Public Library by John D. Seebach, PhD about this project.
In May 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior released Volume 1 of an investigative report which begins to address the history of Federal Indian Boarding School Policies. It can be found here.
In September 2023 the Interior Department launched an oral history project related to the Federal Boarding Schools. The details can be found here.
Although the Colorado Department of Human Services Teller Institute Task Force which can be found here, concluded it's work, more information about the continued investigations of deaths and burials of Indigenous children can be read at HB 22-1327
Although the exact location of the Teller Institute burial ground is unknown images of the institutes maps are included here. These maps are held by the Museum of the West - Loyd Files Research Library. [Note: clicking image will open a larger view.]
There is a 'Find A Grave' list for 16 of the Teller Indian School burials. There is no source information given.
The obituary for one teacher was also located. Miss Lois or Lue H Childs died in August 1900 of typhoid fever. One obituary stated her body was not "shipped home", and was buried in Orchard Mesa Cemetery, however another stated that her brother "accompanied her remains to Columbus, Ohio". Her grave is not listed on Find-a-Grave or Billion Graves in either location.
*Note* The death dates in square brackets were found in the RCIA (Annual Report of Commissioners of Indian Affairs) for the year of death. They are often differnt from the death date listed in the obituary. The RCIA does not note any sources for the dates they give.
- Ben Reed - 15 Sept 1888. [8 Sep 1888; "'Half-breed' from Unitah Agency"
- Charles VandeVere [drowning] Deseret Evening News- 16 Aug 1890
- Charles VandeVere [drowning] Grand Junction News- 16 Aug 1890
- Unknown boy - age 12 - 28 May 1892 [There is no indication in this death notice of the place of burial or the tribal affiliation.]
- Hannah Neliac - 25 Mar 1893 [19 Mar 1893], surname 'Nelyae'] [Death notice doesn't indicate if Hannah was buried in the Teller Institute cemetery or if her body was transported home.]
- Pattie Wygant - 12 Feb 1894 (Daily Sentinel)
- Pattie Wygant - 17 Feb 1894 (GJ News) [Pattie's surname name is spelled both as Hygant and Wygant in the death notices, however a review of the surnames in the 1893 'Indian Census" shows the surname 'Wygant' as an Apache surname - Arizona] [The RCIA shows her surname spelled 'Hygent' with a death date of 10 Feb 1894]
- Allen Thurman (GJ News)
- Allen Thurman (Daily Sentinel)- 15 Jan 1895 [Allen Thurman is listed in the U.S., Indian Census Rolls for 1893 with the San Carlos (Apache, Mohave, and Yuma Indians) as a "pupil away at school".]
- George Washington (Apache) - 23 Apr 1895
- Milford Cleveland [search]-29 July 1895
- Milford Cleveland [body found]- 03 Aug 1895
- Milford Cleveland [drowning]- 03 Aug 1895
- Desha Russell (Apache) 24 June 1896 [23 Jun 1896]
- Charles Bitts (Piute) - 15 Jan 1898
- John Hardson - 18 Apr 1900 [16 Apr 1900]
- Peter Armell - 07 Jul 1900 [06 Jul 1900]
- Unknown boy [typhoid] - 19 Jul 1900
- Samuel Shem - 09 July 1900 [08 Jul 1900]
- Unknown girl - age 13 - 27 Feb 1902
- Charles Henry - 17 Jan 1905
- Luke C Gorkey (Navaho)- 05 May 1905
- Frank Enas [drowning]- 12 Jun 1906
- Frank Enas [burial]- 12 Jun 1906
- Ramon Simon - 06 Feb 1909
- Unknown girl [acute appendicitis] - 15 Apr 1910
Listed in RCIA but not in Find-A-Grave. It is not known of these were students or employees or if they were deaths or dates of residence:
- Raymond Numa - Dec 1893
- Clara Upshaw - Jul 1905
- W.I. Davis - 1886 or 1888
- Thomas H. Brean or Brown - 1888/1889
- Geo. Wheeler - 1889
- Sanford P. 'No last name' - 1889/1890
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