In a small town north of Seattle lies an interesting cemetery. Tucked within a residential neighborhood, Oddfellows Cemetery, also known as Monroe Park, is a quiet and simple resting place. It is also the last cemetery my youngest daughter will ever volunteer to visit with me.
On a rare sunny afternoon, my two daughters and I spread out across the grounds to take pictures. I kept track of my younger daughter as she explored and soon, my oldest daughter was not in sight. I looked harder and saw her sitting on a grave. As I approached, I noticed her staring past me, a face frozen in apathy. I called to her and called to her. Finally, she looked up, surprised to see me there.
We continued to walk the grounds when my younger daughter ran at me. “We need to leave. I want to go.”
She ran to the car and climbed in to wait for us.
Over lunch, she told us about a shadow figure that followed her around the cemetery. It filled her with cold terror. She didn’t want to give anymore details than that, so we let it go. But, after lunch, she said she would never visit a cemetery again.
Once home, I saged all three of us before we entered the house. I hadn’t felt any darkness, but clearly, my kids had.
His striking mausoleum, which is located in his hometown of Dolores Hidalgo, is made of two symbols of Mexican culture: the sombrero and the sarape, a blanket-like shawl. Mosaic tiles give the sarape its rainbow stripes, making Jiménez’s grave as colourful and vibrant as his music.”
Just fifteen minutes from the iconic Snoqualmie Falls rests a cemetery on a hill. It is small, but well worth a visit!
After spending a morning exploring Twin Peaks shoot locations in nearby North Bend, Washington, with my college daughter, we drove to Fall City Cemetery to end a perfect day.
Truthfully, it is one of our favorite cemeteries of all time. We’d visited a few years ago and always meant to return when we had more time.
On this visit, though, we gravitated to a cemetery within the cemetery. A sacred burial ground to the Snoqualmie tribe, this place is aptly named, Snoqualmie Cemetery.
Both my daughter and I felt this place in our bones. Like a blanket placed over you while you nap, this place settled over us; a sense of welcome and peace and beauty and love. We didn’t want to leave.
Once home, I did research. I learned that Grandma Moses rests here. She lived to be 130 years old! Also, Snoqualmie Chief Jerry Kanim and wife Jenny rest here and many other revered tribe members.
If you go, look for the white kiosk – it looks like a tiny house. In it you will find a map and an index of burial sites by name.
Good thing he returned to New York soon after Mountain View Cemetery opened, because within years, the grounds became much more than a local cemetery.
A cemetery for the living
For the last century it has been a gathering place for the living. Yes, people still come to mourn, but others walk their dogs, learn to drive, picnic, party, sketch, attend movie viewings sponsored by the management, go on first dates, view Christmas lights and so much more. Olmsted would be shocked. But, as one commenter on an article titled, “Dogs running loose on graves draw ire at cemetery,” from East Bay Times, said, “Below ground – for the dead, Above ground – for the living.” It is a tug of war for this green space.
But then someone complained. Looking to purchase a family plot, Mr. Lau visited Mountain View. He was irked by dogs running over the top of graves and kids playing baseball. He says in the article that he didn’t want dogs pooping on him after death. Well, hmm. Seems Mr. Lau has metaphorically pooped on the visitors to Mountain View. Because as a result of his complaints, Mountain View management has posted rules throughout the property on sandwich boards. It’s caused many to bristle. And like all issues, it is more complicated than it seems. Not black, not white, but gray.
Mountain View rules may not make sense to us, but they are there for a reason.
In a future blog, I will take you to a Washington state cemetery that has become a popular place for Muslim burials. Muslims cannot touch dogs. In fact, if a dog brushes against their clothes, they must wash them multiple times in order to please God. So, now imagine that they are buried and later a dog is allowed to run across their gravesite? Awful, right? So the rules that Mountain View has about keeping dogs on leashes and off of graves is reasonable. We just need to take the time to understand why the rule is important.
If we walk in kindness, the living and dead can coexist at Mountain View. Obey the posted rules and enjoy the property accordingly.
Known by two names, King County Hospital Cemetery or Duwamish Poor Farm Cemetery, depending on your search engine, Seattle once had a Potter’s Field. When the cemetery was exhumed in 1912, there were 3,280 people buried here. A little less than 800 of those lost souls had known names.
One of the most remarkable graves at the cemetery was for Ingo Singh, a member of the Sikh religion. His grave was dated 1908, a decade before anyone else of the Sikh religion was known to settle in Seattle. Historians wish they knew his story. So do I. From Wing Luke Museum’s website:
“What brought him to Seattle? How long had he been here? On September 4, 1907, Bellingham witnessed the “Anti-Hindu Riots” with a mob of approximately 500 men attacking Sikhs and forcibly removing them from town. Could Ingo Singh have fled Bellingham and headed south, staying in Seattle rather than continuing on to California, like many others? Or maybe he was heading north from California when the Anti-Hindu Riots took place and decided to stay in Seattle instead?”
The Duwamish Poor Farm Cemetery held over 3,000 souls, that’s 3,000 stories we will never hear. What we do know is that many died without any family to claim their bones. They mostly died destitute, and King County put them to rest. Or did they?
On a recent visit to Mission Santa Barbara, I came upon the grave of Sister Vincentia Bermudes. She died on Christmas in 1863 at the age of twenty. The base of her grave was covered with coins and dollars, as was a nearby tree stump. Why?
I was curious.
After a day of hard research, I was left with more questions than answers. Why did people leave coins? Were they hoping she would put in a good word with God on their behalf? Was there some urban legend associated with her grave? I still don’t know. In fact, I might never know.
Though, I did find a few interesting facts about burial customs as I did research on Sister Vincentia Bermudes’ grave.
First, Mission Santa Barbara is haunted. I knew this from my own visits. From cold spots to weird EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) to feelings of unease, my daughters and I are convinced. If you want to watch someone’s ghost hunting journey here, I have a link for you.
I also learned that coins are typically left on the graves of soldiers. Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, the coins signify a fellow soldier’s connection to their dead friend. A quarter is the most significant offering; it means they were with the soldier when they died. This tradition dates back centuries, possibly to fallen Roman soldiers. Fellow soldiers left coins to pay for their voyage over River Styx.
I wish I could tell you the story of Sister Vincentia Bermudes; how she lived and died, but I came up empty. I hope the sentiment etched into her gravestone has come to fruition; “May she rest in Peace(sic).”
Nothing draws me to a cemetery like dark rumors and two of them persist about graves at Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham, Washington. On my recent cemetery walk, I found the two rumor-riddled resting places I was seeking and much more.
The statue of ‘Angel Eyes’ is simple to find. The locals allege that she cries real tears. I visited her mid-day and found the carving to be beautiful and found it curious that black tracks seemed to start at her tear ducts and run down her face. They were mostly likely due to our nasty Pacific Northwest weather.
Then, though it took me longer to find, I discovered the ‘Deathbed’ grave. Set within a carpet of fall leaves, it seemed to lovely a spot to cause the death of anyone. Here’s the story. According to locals, if you lie above the grave and say the name on the grave three times, you will die in three days. I didn’t lie on the grave. That felt disrespectful. But, I did get goosebumps when I came close.
I continued to walk the cemetery and near the top of the hill I found the most beautiful sculpture. The weeping woman sits in the center of the children’s cemetery and embodies everything we feel at the loss of a child. A visual poem, she is beautiful and heartbreaking.
Please get out there and visit a cemetery soon and let me know what you discover.
As always, I love you and hope you have a wonderful week. J