Incorporated on October 16, 1872 as the Seattle Masonic Cemetery, it later changed its name to Lake View Cemetery in 1890. The cemetery is located on the top of Capitol Hill with stunning views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, and Lake Union and Lake Washington.
Although the cemetery was incorporated in 1872, it soon became the home of several reburial projects from smaller earlier cemeteries throughout the city. One of the earliest stones located here is the following curious marker:
Members of the Denny Party had moved from Alki Beach [today’s West Seattle] to the western shore of Elliott Bay [modern-day Seattle] in the spring of 1852, and official plats were not submitted to form the official town of Seattle until 1853, so this unnamed burial truly would have been one of the original pioneers. Though his [or her] original burial doesn’t seem to fit into the several known earliest Seattle cemeteries – the first recorded burial at Denny’s Hotel Cemetery was in 1853 (about 20 bodies were buried here, then later removed to the Seattle cemetery); the first recorded burial at Maynard’s Point Cemetery was in 1854 (whose bodies were moved to Seattle Cemetery in 1864); the first recorded burial at the Little White Church Cemetery was in 1856 (whose bodies were moved to Seattle Cemetery). The bodies from these three early cemeteries were moved to the Seattle Cemetery in the 1860s. But when Seattle Cemetery was turned into Denny Park in 1883, those bodies were again moved to Washelli Cemetery [named after a Makah Native American word for “west wind”]. Yet a few short years after the founding of Washelli Cemetery, Seattle converted the grounds into a park called “Lake View Park”, then re-named Volunteer Park in 1903, causing the bodies buried in Washelli to be removed to other cemeteries, including Lake View Cemetery. This therefore caused some families within the course of a few short decades between the 1850s-1880s to have to rebury their deceased loved ones for the fourth time. So someone cared enough to spare the expense of placing a gravestone over the site of this pioneer whose body was likely moved several times before arriving at Lake View Cemetery, despite not knowing his [or her] identity. If anyone out there knows more about this mystery pioneer, I would love to learn more details.
Many of the well known Seattle pioneer families are buried here, including the Denny family and the Yesler family:
Just to the right of the Henry Yesler family plot, is the gravestone of Kikisoblu Sealth, “Princess Angeline”, the daughter of Chief Seattle. Although her father is buried at the Suquamish Cemetery across Puget Sound (which I recently visited and wrote about here), Angeline requested that she be buried by her friends the Yeslers.
The cemetery is also the resting place of Captain Jefferson Davis Howell (nephew of Jefferson Davis), the captain of the SS Pacific which sunk in 1875 and is considered one of the worst maritime disasters on the Pacific coast with a loss of about 275 lives.
Beautiful stonecarving can be seen on the Fairservice memorial:
Later stones showcase the rich diversity of Seattle’s growing population:
And just in case you were wondering, Lake View has plenty of spots still available!
4 thoughts on “Tombstone Tuesday: Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, Washington”
I enjoyed your write up very much. Well done.
I’ve never seen the pre-made gravestones in any cemetery before… interesting, but it seems so impersonal.
Many older western cemeteries have an interesting collection of individuals, pioneers, notables from other parts of the country and, in this case, the daughter of a famous Indian chief. The west, particularly after 1850, really was a melting pot, and the cemeteries are one place this is evident.