Volunteers sought for cemetery cleanup

Freedom New Mexico

Area historians sometimes refer to Blacktower Cemetery as one of eastern New Mexico’s “lost cemeteries.”

That’s because most of the gravesites have been covered in sand for decades and the number of graves is unknown.

Volunteers are scheduled to gather May 29-30 to help clean up the century-old resting place, which is located north of U.S. Highway 60/84 on County Road R just west of Cannon’s Chavez Housing addition.

Clovis Historian Harold Kilmer has compiled a list of about 50 known burials at the cemetery, dating to 1907. He believes 36 inches of sand may be hiding additional gravestones.

“We know of two Civil War veterans buried out there,” Kilmer said.

According to Kilmer’s list, the first known resident of Blacktower Cemetery was Isaac Barkley, who died at age 31 on June 12, 1907.

But Kilmer said the cemetery was started by an unknown farmer’s family about 1906 after an infant’s death.

Emmett Fulkerson, who died June 17, 1911, and William Brantley, who died Feb. 7, 1908, are the Civil War veterans believed to be buried at Blacktower.

Kilmer’s research shows at least two buried in Blacktower Cemetery died of gunshot wounds. W.R. Salyer, 44, and W.F. Jones, age unknown, are believed to have shot each other during an argument about a fence gate.

Blacktower is owned by the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce.

Cleanup is set for noon to 6 p.m. on May 29 and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 30. Officials ask volunteers to bring gloves, shovels, wheelbarrows and wear covered shoes. Lunch will be provided on May 30.

About 35 Cannon Air Force Base personnel are expected to participate in the cleanup.