The Benson Pioneer Cemetery is also known as the 7th Street Cemetery. The land was deeded to the City of Benson as a cemetery by the Pacific Improvement Company; the California based land company of the Southern Pacific Railroad, in March 1929.
Burial plots were sold to residents by the City of Benson and the Cemetery continues to be maintained by the City. The first person buried was William McDonald, October 10, 1881. His grave is unmarked. The first marked grave is Charles H Fullerton, buried October 13, 1883. The last burial was Nicholas Solis in 1975. Some graves contain several bodies, as was common in old cemeteries.
The original map of the grave sites has been lost and a grass fire destroyed many markers. Surveys and updated information have been created through the diligent efforts of several preservation volunteers. Information was gathered from the Diocese of Tucson Archives, the LDS Family Center, and the descendants of those laid to rest in the historic cemetery.
The small cemetery has a mysterious side to it as well. Almost everyone in Benson can tell you the story of Los Tiraditos or the Lost Castaways. In 1882 or 1883 Arizona was still a territory and there was not much in the way of law and order. Benson was a typical new railroad town. Although not as famous as some of the other towns in Cochise County, it had its share of gunslingers, gamblers and thieves. A train was robbed by two bandits and luckily captured almost immediately. About that same time, a horse thief was apprehended and brought in with the train robbers. Three Mexican males were accused of these crimes. The story does not indicate whether a trial was held or not. The three men were hung for their wrongdoings on the main street of Benson. Ropes were thrown over beams inside or just outside the local stores and western justice was rendered.
The “upstanding” people of Benson decided that these men would not be allowed to be buried in the town cemetery as that was considered hallowed ground. Sadly, the three men were buried across a wash behind the cemetery in shallow graves marked with wooden crosses.
The Mexican members of the community felt these men were innocent. Over the years these lonely graves became a shrine to some of the town folk. Candles were lit and left near the mesquite trees across the wash. Bright crepe paper flowers were tenderly placed on the mounds. All Saints Day still finds the grounds of Los Tiraditos cleaned and decorated. Erosion continues to keep the three men from the grounds across the wash of the historic cemetery. Some locals claim that late at night you can still hear an eerie moaning as the three souls plead for a resting place within the hallowed grounds of the historic 7th Street Cemetery.