The post cemetery served as a graveyard for soldiers, their dependents, and civilians during the army occupation of Fort Steele (1868-1886). Although some soldiers died during the Indian Wars of the 1860s and 1879s, most of the military deaths at the fort were the result of accidents and disease. Civilians and travelers who expired in the vicinity of Fort Steele were also interred in the cemetery.
Although the Fort Steele hospital provided medical services to military personnel and there dependents, the lack of refined medical techniques often resulted in death from infection and diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis. The infant mortality rate was particularly high and 25% of the grave in the cemetery were occupied by children.
The 100' x 140' cemetery was enclosed by a picket fence and contained eighty irregularly spaced graves. Each grave was number, the number appearing on a painted wooden peg at the foot of the plot. Gravesite markings included wood headboard for the military but they proved impractical as inscriptions soon became obliterated by weathering. Although few persons of historical fame were buried in the Fort Fred Steele cemetery, an exception was Jefferson J. Stander who participated in many western gold rushes including the brief 1867 boom at South Pass, Wyoming.
Not all those who perished at Fort Steele were buried in the post cemetery. Rather than surrender their loved ones to an eternity on this wind-swept riverbank, some chose to ship the deceased by rail to other final resting places. Military families occasionally requested official assistance with the shipment. Officers reported civilian requests for coffins and embalming material, complaining that to supply them was not a military responsibility.
When the post was decommissioned in 1886, the Secretary of the Interior declared the cemetery exempt from sale or transfer to the public because of the military burials. In 1892 the graves of the soldiers, their dependents and some civilians were move to Fort McPherson National Cemetery near Maxwell, Nebraska. Civilians continued to use the cemetery after the departure of the military and the last documented burial took place in the 1920's. The land occupied by the cemetery is still owned by the United States government.