- How many miners and their families are reported to be buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leadville, CO?
Records show that 1339 Irish and other immigrants are buried in unmarked, sunken graves in the “Pauper or Catholic Free” section of the Evergreen cemetery. Based on surnames and cross-checking with church records, it is estimated that 70-80% are Irish. *
- Where did these miners and their families come from?
Church records indicate that about one third of the Irish-born residents of early Leadville came from County Cork, with the majority from the copper mining region on the Beara Peninsula near Allihies in West Cork. Others came from counties in Ireland such as Cork, Mayo, Tipperary, Waterford, Donegal, Cavan and Galway.
- Why did these immigrants come to Leadville
The Leadville Irish were largely from areas where hunger and persecution were rampant. The vast majority of these Irish immigrants came from areas in western and southern Ireland that were the most devastated areas during the famine. Many in west Cork were also fleeing a “mini-famine” that hit the region during the 1870s. Hundreds of Irish miners also fled the Pennsylvania Anthracite Coal region due to the hangings of alleged “Molly Maguires.” Working conditions were poor and wages were a meagre $3 per day. Leadville miners twice led two massive strikes for higher wages and better working conditions, walking out of the mines and bringing the Colorado economy to a halt. Unfortunately, the Colorado National Guard stopped the strike and arrested the miners. They were then forced to work in road building chain gangs.The Silver rush ran from late 1878 thru the 1890s so this period was brief and therefore, little was written in the annals of history about it.
- What was the Demographic of the Irish Immigrants in Leadville at that time?
During the 1880s, Leadville had the largest Irish community between the west coast and the mid-west, with approximately 6,000 Irish; half born in Ireland and half 2nd generation Irish-Americans.The Irish inhabited the East side of Leadville in the area known as the “Sixth Street Irish.” Many others lived in and around the gulches in the outskirts of Leadville. The ratio of male to female was 4:1. Males in their 20’s comprised the largest segment of the community. The primary occupation was mining however, other occupations included: laborers, bartenders, carpenters, charcoal burners and railroad laborers. Female occupations included: housekeepers, laundresses, cooks, nuns, seamstresses and prostitutes.
- What was the average age of the people buried in the Catholic Free Section of Evergreen Cemetery
The average age of those buried in the Catholic Free section is 23. Nearly half of them are children twelve years or younger. 8% are listed as stillborn.
- Where is the Evergreen Cemetery located and how do I find the memorial site?
The cemetery is located at 1601 Popular Street, Leadville, CO 80461. When completed, the memorial will be located 500ft to the North inside the main entrance to the cemetery. The memorial will be visible from the entrance.
- What will the Memorial Design comprise of?
The memorial will comprise of many design elements: a spiral walkway will lead to a bronze sculpture depicting a miner on bended knee with the head facing skyward. Glass panels will name the unnamed miners and their families.
- How do I make a donation?
Donations may be made at: https://www.irishnetworkco.com/leadville-irish-miners-memorial/
* All historical data is sourced from research performed by Project Historian,
Dr. James Walsh and students at the University of Colorado, Denver.