Friday, November 9, 2012

Harmon Cutler's final resting place

Attached is an article published in the Deseret News in July, 2000, that tells about Kim's 4th great-grandfather's burial place:

MIDVALE — The white picket fence surrounds a field of conflict. Heavy industry and pioneer heritage battled here, and bureaucracies from Denver to Washington, D.C., have delayed a truce.                                               

Behind Black Goose Design, at 7797 S. 700 West, is a cemetery of some 120 graves from the last half of the 19th century. Sisters Glenda Sharp and Charleen Cutler's great-great-grandfather Harmon Cutler died here in 1869, 17 years after arriving with the 12th company of pioneers from Council Bluffs, Iowa. But his descendants can't visit his grave. Sharon Steel used this land as its dumping ground from 1897 through 1950, according to Christine Richman, Midvale's director of community and economic development. "They dumped slag all over it," said Sharp, who has tried for years to find out where her ancestor's grave is. Sharon Steel used nearby land for smelting and left the ground contaminated with lead, arsenic and cadmium. After the Environmental Protection Agency made it a Superfund cleanup site in 1995, "they scraped off the contaminated soil, put in clean soil and a fence and walked away," said Richman. Early in that process, EPA archeologists discovered that this had been a pioneer cemetery. Two years ago, a group of environmental engineers heard about the burial ground, contacted Midvale city and offered to restore it. A hundred volunteers, all members of the Consulting Engineers of Utah, devoted some 2,000 hours to surveying and landscaping the place. Since the workers came from various firms, "we're collaborators and competitors, depending on the day," said project leader Paul Hirst. "Part of the benefit of this was getting us to work together, to give back to the community." On Friday Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini held a ribbon-cutting at the cemetery, open for the occasion, to pay tribute to the engineers and to the pioneers who settled the area that would become West Jordan and Midvale. "This should be a place where all people can come to give thanks to those who gave so much," she said. Sharp and Cutler heard about the engineers' restoration project and called Midvale city to find out whether their great-great-grandfather's burial site had been located within the one-acre site. Before the EPA cleanup began, headstones were intact on the property, but those have disappeared. The women want to know what happened to the stones, and they want to see the map made by the archaeologists.                                               

"This is family," said Sharp, extending the palm of her hand toward the ground. It's also a Superfund site needing more cleanup before it's safe for the public, according to Richman. "That will take anywhere from six months to five years. It's (the cemetery's) turn. But they're still in the planning stages of how the remediation's going to occur." Federal bureaucracy, then, is preventing the Cutler family from knowing where their ancestors were buried. Charleen Cutler says she feels excluded from the restoration process. She's asked Richman for the archaeological map but has yet to see it. "The plat map was lost for two years" in the Superfund database, Richman said. But now it's found, and she advised Cutler to call the Denver regional office of the EPA to inquire about it. Cutler, 59, and Sharp, 54, have lived in Midvale all their lives. They know the area around the cemetery as Cutler Hill, after their ancestor who came with the LDS pioneers from Council Bluffs in 1852. Harmon's son, Benjamin Lewis Cutler, was buried near his father in Midvale, and so was Harmon's second wife, Elizabeth Shields. Her headstone is the only one left among the new foliage planted by the engineers. After Friday's tribute, Richman invited everyone to City Hall for lemon bars and punch. She also warned them about the contaminated ground they were standing on. "The EPA makes me say this: Please wash your hands before having the refreshments," she said.


  1. Hi Leslie,
    I'd like to collaborate with you on researching our mutual ancestor Harmon cutler. Let me know what you think.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I was at the grave site in June, 2016. and they were building apartments, ("Villas at Founders Point"right next to it and dumped all their dirt on top of the grave site, also on top of the grass and log cabin that the Daughters of the Pioneers had placed there. The name of the company was Wasatch Residential Group. I had been there the year before and part of the graveyard had a nice white picket fence with a cement walkway around green grass with the log cabin that the Daughters of the Pioneers had placed there, it made me sad to see the site that my great grandfather and other pioneers had been buried and disrespected. Grandpa Cutler had owned all that land at one time. Nancy Weaver