460 E Warm Springs Ave
Online Search for Pioneer Cemetery Records
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. The cemetery has been maintained by Boise City Parks & 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 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 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 four past governors – Edward A. Stevenson, George L. Shoup, Frank W. Hunt and Robert E. Smylie. The stories of these community leaders, as well as those of many others, help us piece together a vibrant narrative of Boise's 150-year 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 Boise City Parks & Recreation Department worked together to restore the cemetery, install a new fence and create an interpretive park area outside the cemetery.
Please remember that Pioneer Cemetery is fully operational. If you encounter a funeral in progress, please bypass that area. Take care not to litter and to leave all plants and memorial items intact. Your assistance in maintaining the dignity of the grounds is appreciated.
Please feel free to stop by to visit Pioneer Cemetery, and take the Pioneer Cemetery Walking Tour. You may contact our office if you have questions.
The Cemetery Main Office is located at the Parks and Recreation Administration Office
1104 Royal Blvd, Boise, Idaho 83706
Hours: M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(208) 608-7598 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Park Ambassadors serve as liaisons between park users and the Boise Parks and Recreation Department (BPR). They report maintenance needs, promote proper use of the park, and share information with park users. In addition, they may share their unique hobbies and skills through special tours and programs. Park Ambassadors commit to visiting their park regularly for one year. All Ambassadors must pass a criminal history background check and attend an orientation prior to being accepted into the program.
Interested in becoming a Park Ambassador, please complete an application.
Smoking is prohibited in all public parks, including within 20 feet of the Boise Greenbelt, except in designated areas within Ann Morrison and Julia Davis parks and city-owned golf courses.
NOTE: E-cigarettes are not prohibited under the ordinances.
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