An old cemetery rests off of the Highway of Legends in Jansen, just outside of Trinidad where 121 men, women, and children, some of whom helped to build the town around us today, are buried. The site is selflessly taken care of by a woman in her 70s who has put in countless hours taking care of the cemetery since the mid-1980s, Dorothy Simpson.
Just under a month ago, vandals desecrated that site.
“People came in and spray painted profanity on some of the monuments and tore down a sign I had made to go over the entryway,” said Simpson. “It’s so disrespectful to the people buried here and their families.”
The sign, reading “Let the perpetual light shine upon them,” has been remade Simpson said, and much of the paint has been removed or repainted over. But this has not been the first time the site has been disrespected.
“Some people call it Devil’s Playground,” said Simpson. “I’ve asked the Sheriffs for help and they tell me they might be able to increase their patrol out here, but they’ve said that before and this keeps happening.”
According to Simpson and other locals, the area can get a bit rowdy some nights with teenagers using the spot as a place to hang out with their friends and ‘party.’ Simpson said she would just like to see the area respected, as it deserves.
“All I’m asking is that people give this place the respect and dignity that it deserves,” said Simpson. “Even if people don’t want to help to take care of the site, at least don’t trash it.”
Part of being human is remembering our past. Where we’ve come from and who all helped to create and build the world we have today. There are few places that memory and respect is as poignant as in a cemetery. So when defiled, not only is it an act of disrespect to those who are laid to rest there, but also to the very fabric of the cities and towns we call home.
There are several cemetery sites along the Highway of Legends and Simpson said she was worried for the future of some of these historic sites.
“The younger generation just doesn’t have the same values anymore,” said Simpson. “I don’t feel like younger people really care about remembering our ancestors and paying them our respect. I hate to think of what might happen to this place if I weren’t here to take care of it.”
Something likely many of America’s small cemetery plots face as those who care for them get older, with few stepping up to make sure that care continues.
For anyone curious about who is laid to rest in the Jansen cemetery, Simpson said she had done the work of gathering and keeping records and continues to do so. She said that anyone with questions may contact her at 719-941-4100.