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Mount Pleasant Cemetery

HistoryLink.org Essay 966 : Printer-Friendly Format

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, located on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, was started in 1879. Among the notable persons buried there are pioneers William and Sarah Bell. Other burials include the labor martyrs of the "Everett Massacre" of November 5, 1916, black social activist Bertha Pitts Campbell, the Filipino author Carlos Bulosan, founder of the Jewish Benevolent Society Elizabeth Cooper-Levi, and a few ashes of the renowned I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) songwriter Joe Hill.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, located on the north side of Queen Anne Hill, comprises about 40 acres and (in 1999) 60,000 graves. The earliest burials date from the late 1870s when the Odd Fellows established a cemetery on 10 acres that they later purchased from Nils Peterson. The Free Methodist Church purchased 10 acres for a cemetery in 1882 and Seattle undertakers Cross & Co. acquired the rest of the land from Peterson about the same year. In 1890, The Congregation Chaveth Sholem established Seattle's first Jewish cemetery there.

In 1895, James W. Clise (1855-1938), banker and real estate investor, organized the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Company and acquired the land from Cross. Other churches and ethnic groups purchased portions of the cemetery including the Chinese Chong Wa Benevolent Society. In 1929, Mt Pleasant sold part of the land to Temple de Hirsch for the Hills of Eternity Jewish Cemetery. In 1957, Charles Clise sold Mount Pleasant Cemetery, in a very run-down condition, to Neil Edwards (1908- 1986). He improved the cemetery, planting and caring for flowering shrubs, trees, and lawns. His son, Bill Edwards, operates the cemetery today (1999).

Many Notables Buried Here

Among the notable persons buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery are:

  • Sam Smith (1922-1995), longtime Seattle city councilman;
  • Bertha Pitts Campbell (1889-1990), African American leader and founder of the black sorority Delta Sigma Theta;
  • Asa Mercer (1874-1944), son of pioneer Aaron Mercer and nephew of the pioneer Asa Mercer of Mercer Girl fame;
  • Willam Bell (1817-1887) and his wife Sarah Bell (1819-1856), pioneers who arrived on the schooner Exact in 1851;
  • Anna Herr Clise (1866-1936), co-founder of Children's Orthopedic Hospital;
  • Demitri Corahorgi (1880-1973), Medal of Honor recipient;
  • Carlos Bulosan (1913-1956), Filipino author;
  • Elizabeth Cooper-Levy, founder of the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society;
  • Orange Jacobs (1827-1914), mayor of Seattle in 1879-1880 and superior court judge;
  • Felix Baran, John Looney, and Hugo Gerlot, three of the five members of the labor union I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) killed in the Everett Massacre -- an attack by members of the "Everett Improvement Club" which occurred on November 5, 1916 in Everett, Washington;
  • unclaimed victims of the 1910 Wellington train disaster on Stevens Pass;
  • monument marking the graves of 26 persons who died in the S. S. Valencia maritime disaster off Vancouver Island in January 1906;
  • some of the ashes of the renowned I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) songwriter Joe Hill, executed by firing squad on November 19, 1915. Hill, a labor radical, was executed by the state of Utah for a murder that he undoubtedly had no part of, despite attempted interventions by President Woodrow Wilson, the Swedish government and thousands of others. His ashes were divided into small packets and sent to fellow workers around the world, except in Utah where Hill did not wish to be caught dead. In Seattle, on May 1, 1917 (May Day), "Wobblies" held a ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, sang his songs, and scattered his ashes.

Over the years, the lines between the original Odd Fellows and Mount Pleasant cemeteries have blurred, and the two parts are now (1999) under the same management. The adjacent Hills Of Eternity Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery, has remained separate, as has the A. A. Wright Columbarium. The cemetery honors all denominations and all cultures. In 1979, the operators established a special section for Muslims, with graves oriented toward Mecca.

Sources:
Kay Frances Reinartz, Queen Anne: Community on the Hill (Seattle: Queen Anne Historical Society, 1993); Mary Ellen Driggers, "The History of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery," Typescript dated May 30, 1974 in possession of Paul Dorpat, Seattle; Paul Dorpat, "Mt. Pleasant May," Pacific Northwest Magazine.


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Monument in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery for David Blaine (1824-1900) and Catharine Paine Blaine (1829-1908), June 2003
HistoryLink.org Photo by Priscilla Long


Gravestone of Bertha Pitts Campbell, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Seattle, June 2003
HistoryLink.org Photo by Priscilla Long


 
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