Pre-1905 gravesite confirmed in Lander’s city limits

(Lander, Wyo.) – What was long been believed to be a small gravesite in Lander has been confirmed following a quick investigation with the Wyoming State Archaeologist’s office and Central Wyoming College students. Three graves were confirmed deep beneath the soil.

The site, underneath a large tree near the intersection of West Main and Tiger Drive, was investigated through soil sampling and the use of a magnetometer. The land is currently under lease by the Museum of the American West. The investigation was done to get the site certified as a burial ground.

Bonnie Willhelm initiated the communication with the state last fall. According to her family’s records, an aunt Elsie McCoy was buried there was she was two years old, probably around 1903 or 1904.

Her records also indicated that the two others buried at the site are a 4-year-old and someone who died somewhere in the age range of 12 to 14. She has no names for the other two.

Willhelm said the soil samples showed changes in color and texture, indicating the location of the graves.

MAW’s Jim Corbett said a boulder with a plaque will be moved to the location of the graves to mark the site. Plans are being considered for a pathway from the museum grounds to cross Tiger Drive to the site.

The museum expressed gratitude to Fremont County School District 1 and Fremont Toyota for maintaining the grounds around the gravesite.


  1. JJ Stewart

    CWC Archeology Field School Students with Wyoming State Archeologist Danny Walker and Todd Guenther last week.

  2. JJ Stewart

    Photos include Todd Guenther & Danny Walker, assisted by Bill Elder, Gale Brow, Morgan Robin, Chelsea Cheney, Eli Mrak, Emily Hovendick, and Nico Holt.

  3. Denise Caskey

    It's amazing that we all have driven by that tree a thousand times and never had a clue what was beneath it.

  4. Paula McCormick

    Good to hear about the plaque that will be a memorial. Thanks MAW, CWC and Mr. Walker.

  5. Wolf Paws

    The stories that tree could tell….

  6. Michael Fox

    Excellent work Drs. Guenther and Walker!

  7. Debby Bayne

    Thanks Bonnie Wilhelm for beginning this process.

  8. Tania Bernard-O'Neal

    There are probably THOUSANDS of gravesites all over the state (and others) that are being paved/built over… not to mention the ones that have already been moved to 'other sites' etc….. :/

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