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A Haunted History
Cheesman Park Denver, Colorado
by A.M. Pettry CHT

23:59 October 21, 2007

Cheesman Park
Cheesman Park is a beautiful refuge from the hustle and bustle of downtown Denver. A beautiful and rather quiet park of rolling grass covered hills and wonderful old trees providing shade from the midday heat. As you enjoy the park, all appears well. Joggers and bicyclists, picnickers enjoying their meal, people just reading quietly under a shade tree or lying on the grass.

But if you just find a quiet place and just watch and listen, without any distraction, a strange feeling begins to come over you. A feeling that is hard to describe. A feeling of something out of the norm, something that is just not right…. something that just makes you feel uneasy.

Cheesman Park in not only beautiful, it is also considered one of the most haunted places in Denver. This now beautiful park hides a chapter of Denver history filled with scandal, outrage, and horror. And this dark chapter of history created what is now considered one of the most haunted places in Denver.

Why would this beautiful place be considered haunted? The answer is simple. This beautiful park is sitting atop the old City Cemetery. But the story of this park it goes far beyond just building a park over old cemetery ground and moving a few graves. It involved the desecration of thousands of graves without regard for those that rested there. It was a scandal that outraged the citizens of Denver, and turned this now peaceful place into a center of haunted activity that continues to this day.

It all began in 1858. Wealthy Denver businessman William Larimer set aside 320 acres of ground that was to be used as a cemetery for the growing city of Denver. Larimer named the cemetery Mount Prospect. Under the terms Larimer set forth, the choice sites atop the hill were to be reserved for Denver's rich and influential citizens. The lower parts were to be for the ordinary citizens of Denver, and he would allow the paupers and the criminals to be laid to rest on the far edges of the allotted land.

John Stoefel, a Hungarian immigrant, was one of the first to make use of the new cemetery. Stoefel had arrived in Denver with the intent of settling a dispute he had with his brother-in-law. Stoefel ended the dispute by murdering the man. A short trail followed, and Stoefel was dragged away by an angry mob and hung from a cottonwood tree. His body, and the body of his brother-in-law were unceremoniously dumped into the same grave.

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