150 Boise icons: Pioneer Cemetery

May 12, 2013 

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Did you know? Pioneer Cemetery reveals the ethnic mix of Boise pioneers. Pictured here: A headstone written in Hebrew for a child who died in 1871. The cemetery contains the graves of many children, including that of a 6-year-old boy who died in 1878. The inscription reads: "Papa, we will occupy the house together. Yes, my son, we will."

The oldest legible grave marker in Pioneer Cemetery on Warm Springs Avenue is that of a little girl. Carrie Logan, age 5 years, 11 months and five days, died in the summer of 1864. Her father, Thomas Logan, became mayor of Boise 10 years later. Mayor Logan, too, is buried in Pioneer. It is the oldest cemetery in continuous use in the city of Boise.

The land was a public burial ground until 1872, when its owner, John Krall (a street in the area still bears his name), sold it to two Boise lodges, the Masons and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The lodges shared expenses to maintain the cemetery for almost 50 years. Because of rising costs, the city took over maintenance duties in 1920. The cemetery fell into disrepair in the next decades. Vandals damaged headstones. A fence built by lodge members disappeared.

The state's Centennial in 1990 inspired the Boise Metro Rotary Club and the city to restore Pioneer Cemetery, installing a new fence and creating the interpretive park and seating area that's there today.

The larger, newer Morris Hill Cemetery that opened in 1882 is the burial site of many famous Idahoans, but Pioneer has its own share of extraordinary pioneers. They include Corilla Robbins, buried in 1927 in Section 2-15-6.

Robbins came to Idahoin an ox cart and led the women's suffrage movement in Idaho. She was a woman of "firsts." She rode in the first airplane and the first car to arrive in Boise. Robbins also owned the first residential telephone in the city. Curiously, her grave is unmarked.

Judge Milton Kelly, editor and publisher of the Idaho Statesman and owner of Kelly's Hot Springs on the edge of town, was buried in 1892 in Section 1-21-5. Kelly was a member of the first session of the Idaho Territorial Legislature and helped draft its first laws.

Celebrated mule packer Jesus Urquides was buried in 1928 in Section 3-55-1 beneath a headstone that reads "Papa." Community members still gather at his grave every Dia de los Muertos.

The cemetery contains a Civil War memorial erected in May 1896 by a Women's Relief Corps, a group associated with the Grand Army of the Republic veterans organization. The obelisk, shaped like the Washington Monument, stands on the north side of the cemetery. Its inscription reads: To The Memory Of The Unknown Dead, 1861-1865."

Despite the cemetery's age, plots are still available for about $2,000 apiece.

450 E. Warm Springs Ave.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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