Pioneer Cemetery

Boise, Ada, Idaho, United States


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The area now encompassing Pioneer Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in continuous use in Boise, north of Warm Springs Avenue, first came into unsanctioned use as a burial ground soon after the area was settled in 1863. Ada County records indicate that in 1868 a local businessman, Michael Keppler, was granted a Federal Land Grant Patent for 120 acres that today includes Pioneer Cemetery. Keppler then sold the land to John Krall, a local business proprietor, in February of 1869. A small section of the property continued to be used as a public burial ground until 1872 when Krall sold a 5-acre plot to two prominent Lodges – the Masons and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows – to be used by members and their families. Following the purchase of these 5 acres, Ada County Surveyor P.W. Bell completed a plat map dated Oct. 1, 1872, designating separate areas of the cemetery to each lodge. This arrangement remained in force for the next 48 years with the two lodges dividing expenses for maintenance. Increasing expenses and the popularity of the newer Morris Hill Cemetery, established in 1882 to accommodate Boise’s growing population, made the cost of operating the Masonic Cemetery unaffordable. The Odd Fellows deeded their section to the City officially on June 1, 1920 and has been maintained by Boise Parks and Recreation since. There are 1,796 marked graves at Pioneer cemetery, though it is the final resting place of many more than that. Deaths were not recorded in Idaho until after the turn of the 20th century. Often, deaths were not listed in newspapers, leaving only grave markers and mortuary records to determine the earliest burials. The very first interments were likely the task of family or friends, and many markers, particularly those constructed of wood, have disappeared with time. The earliest recorded burial in Pioneer Cemetery was Carrie Logan, daughter of Thomas and Caroline Logan, who died Aug. 22, 1864 on the Camas Prairie, at age of 5 years, 11 months and 5 days. Hers is the oldest legible grave marker in the cemetery. While the names of many people buried at Pioneer Cemetery have been lost, the existing grave markers read like a who's who of Idaho history. Included are eleven former Boise mayors, eight Ada County sheriffs and five past governors – Edward A. Stevenson, George L. Shoup, Frank W. Hunt, Robert E. Smylie, and Cecil D. Andrus. The stories of these community leaders, as well as those of many others, help us piece together a vibrant narrative of Boise history, and efforts to preserve this historical landmark have increased over time. For many years, the cemetery was little used and neglected. A fence built by the lodges disappeared, headstones were stolen and many vandalized. A century or more of exposure to the elements has taken its toll on other headstones. As a centennial project in 1990, the Boise Metro Rotary Club and the Parks and Recreation Department worked together to restore the cemetery, install a new fence and create an interpretive park area outside the cemetery. CIVIL WAR MEMORIAL A memorial to the men who died in the American Civil War was erected May 30, 1896, by Phil Sheridan Women's Relief Corps. The obelisk stands in a circle of stones near the flagpole and bears the inscription, "To the Memory of the Unknown Dead, 1861-1865." The monument, which cost $137, was unveiled on May 9, 1896. Cemetery Rules and Regulations All official cemetery transactions shall be handled at the Boise Parks and Recreation Administration Office. Business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, Monday through Friday, except legal holidays. The cemetery shall be open to the public from sunrise to sunset. Maintenance and Care: Boise City will provide maintenance care for all lots. This services consists of maintaining neat and attractive grounds; watering and mowing lawns; trimming around headstones; pruning trees and shrubs planted by Boise City; cleanup and removal of trash, leaves, withered flowers, etc.; and preservation of grade at burial site(s). This care does not include the planting or care of flowers around monuments and markers, nor the cleaning or repair of monuments and markers erected on burial site(s). Ornamentation and Beautification: Planter boxes, toys, flags, pinwheels, balloons, wire figurines, breakable objects, and/or decorations, which are placed on or around graves and deemed hazardous or create a maintenance problem, will be removed and disposed of by cemetery staff. Glass or breakable objects of any kind are not permitted in the cemeteries. No artificial flowers or decorations will be allowed during the mowing season (April 1 through October 31) except on Memorial Day. Flower Policy: Cut flowers may be placed upon graves in a non-breakable container any time of the year. Cut flowers in glass or other breakable containers will be removed from the container and placed directly on the grave. Containers will not be retained. Cut flowers, including burial service flowers, will be removed when they become unsightly, discolored or wilted. Holiday flowers and grave decorations may be placed one week prior to the observed holiday and will be removed one week after the holiday. Perennial plantings (bushes, bulbs, roses, etc.) are not allowed. Planting of annuals is only allowed in the upright monument sections. You may plant within 9 inches in front (east side) of a monument in the infant sections and 18 inches in front (east side) of the monument in all other monument sections (Section Q north/south graves plant on south side of marker, Chinese section plant on the west side of marker). No Borders of any type are allowed. Planting is not allowed in sections which require flat gravestones. The planting of any vegetation other than defined in the flower policy is strictly prohibited without obtaining written permission from the Cemetery Manager. A small fee is assessed when staff places flowers. Markers: All markers are required to have a minimum 4-inch concrete mow strip surrounding the marker.The width of a marker is limited to the width of the lot(s). All markers are limited to a depth (length) of 24 inches which includes the 4-inch mow strip. Upright markers that exceed a height of 5 feet and does not meet specifications listed above, will require Department approval. The installation of upright markers is not permitted in Morris Hill Cemetery’s “flat marker only” sections. There are no “flat marker only” sections in Pioneer Cemetery. Flat markers, at the head of a lot in a flat marker area, may contain vases as long as these vases are capable of being placed back in the marker and level to the ground. Flat markers may be placed at the head of the burial lot as an alternative to an upright marker in the cemeteries’ monument sections. Each burial lot allows for the placement of two markers, one at the head and the other at the kidney position on a lot. Some sections have exceptions for these placements and can be placed at the foot position of a lot. All markers placed at the kidney and foot locations must be flat, set to turf grade, and absent of vases. Should any marker become unsightly or a hazard to visitors, the cemetery shall have the right to either correct the condition or remove it at the expense of the owner of the marker. Markers are owned by the purchaser, not the City, and can be purchased through an approved monument company and can only be set with prior approval and confirmation of exact plot location and requirements by cemetery personnel. Maintenance and care of the marker is the responsibility of the purchaser. Cemetery staff endeavors to maintain orderly, well-kept grounds, and encourage families to become involved and participate in the care of the markers of deceased friends and family members. Over time, there will be normal aging and upkeep required for all of the markers in the cemeteries. Repairs and maintenance can be obtained from local monument companies. Cemetery staff reserves the right to move a marker to facilitate grave digging. Interments: A notice of ten (10) working hours will be required for the opening of a graves for the purpose of a burial. It is not required that a funeral director be onsite to witness the interment of the body; it is however a requirement that a funeral director be onsite to witness a disinterment. Disinterments shall be arranged through a funeral director and require a notice of at least one week. All graves shall be dug by City employees. Interments will only be allowed to occur in full sized lots. The cemetery allows one full size, casket burial in one lot and up to three cremations on the same lot, or four cremations in one full sized lot. All interments require the use of a burial vault/box. The use of a coffin is not required. Only human remains may be interred, animal remains are prohibited. Lots: In the cemeteries owned by the City, customers do not purchase or own the actual ground space of the lot. The customer is actually purchasing a “Certificate of License to Inter” for a specific lot of their choice. This license reserves the lot for the use of the purchaser or other designated individuals. Additional burials in the same lot will require additional licenses to inter, titled Extended Use Fee. Customers may purchase licenses on a pre-need basis or at time of burial. An unused license may be transferred to a family member or repurchased by the City. If the owner of the Certificate of License to Inter wishes to transfer the lot to another person, that transaction will require the owner of the license to sign a quit claim deed and pay a transfer charge upon application for the transfer. More information can be obtained by contacting the Parks and Recreation Administration Office. Conduct: Visitors are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that accords due respect to the deceased. Alcoholic beverages, smoking, illegal drugs, and boisterous activity are prohibited. Automobiles and other vehicles shall not be driven in excess of 15 miles per hour while on the cemetery roadways. Advertising, selling, or soliciting will not be permitted, nor will any active forms of recreation. Children, under the age of 15, must be accompanied by parents or guardians who will be responsible for their behavior. With the exception of service animals, pets are not permitted on the cemetery grounds or in any buildings. All persons in Boise City cemeteries are prohibited from: gathering flowers (wild, cultivated or artificial), breaking or harming trees, shrubs, or disturbing the birds and wildlife. The main office, for the cemeteries, is located: Parks and Recreation Administration Office 1104 Royal Blvd, Boise, Idaho 83706 Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone: (208) 608-7600 Email: Cemeteries are open from sunrise to sunset.
Pioneer Cemetery, Created by BillionGraves, Boise, Ada, Idaho, United States