A nonprofit is on a mission to mark a mass children's grave near Mead

Posted at 10:08 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 13:24:52-04

MEAD, Colo. -- Outside the tiny town of Mead, there is a mass grave of infants and children, most of them buried during the Great Depression. Now, the people who take care of the historic cemetery are raising money to finally mark the site and identify those children.

The Highlandlake Pioneer Cemetery is less than two acres in size and dates back to 1878. Buried there are some of the area's most beloved residents. But on one side of the cemetery, there is an empty field with no markers.

"This is a mass grave here of about 120 children," said Pauli Smith, the president and executive director of Historic Highlandlake, Inc. "The burial certificates say they died from things like malnutrition or pneumonia. The majority were stillborn or died within a few days of their birth or a few months (later)."

Smith said a recent ground penetrating radar survey by the University of Denver revealed far more children were buried in the Potter's field than they knew. She said often, parents could not afford the $1 for a child's plot.

"Heartbreaking is what it is. I just want to do something to help these little guys out," said Peggy Brossman, who has family buried in the cemetery.

When she heard about the mass grave, she came up with a plan to finally identify the children with a marker they deserve.

"As a mom that lost a child, you know, if I couldn't afford a grave, I would want somebody to do that for me," said Brossman. "Let's take care of them and know that they mattered."

The organization is now raising money to build a brick path with the names of the children they know and bricks in honor of those whose names they don't know.

"They can't be left forgotten -- they're there. We need to remember them," said Smith.

Smith said they will be selling bricks at the Pioneer Days on June 11. For more information on the sale, click here.

To see the names of the known children buried in Potter's field, click here.

You can also access the cemetery's website by following this link or learn more about the cemetery and their mission by visiting their Facebook page.