The area now known as Pioneer Cemetery, located at the west end of Warm Springs Avenue in Boise, first came into unofficial use as a burial ground soon after the area was settled in 1863; It is the oldest cemetery in continuous use in the city.
Ada County records indicate that in 1868, Michael Keppler applied for, and was granted, a Federal Land Grant Patent on one hundred and twenty acres of land that included the present Cemetery.
Keppler sold the land to John Krall in February, in 1869. A small section of the property continued to be used, by common consent, as a public burial ground until 1872, when Krall sold a five acre plot to two Boise Lodges - the Masons and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows - to be used as a cemetery for their members and families. The cemetery became known as The Masonic Cemetery.a
P.W. Bell, Boise, completed a plat map dated October 1, 1872, designating separate areas of the cemetery to be used by each lodge. This arrangement remained in force for the next forty-eight years with the two lodges dividing expenses for maintenance and a caretaker.
Deaths were not recorded in Idaho until after the turn of the century and were often not listed in newspapers of the period, leaving only grave markers and mortuary records as a means of determining the earliest burials. The very first burials were likely the task of family or friends, and many markers, particularly those constructed of wood, have disappeared with the passage of time.Pioneer2.jpg
Increasing expenses and the popularity of the newer Morris Hill Cemetery, opened in 1882, made the cost of operating the Masonic Cemetery prohibitive for the lodges. On May 28, 1920, 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 that date. As of October 1, 2011 lots are $1995.00.
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 others headstones.
As a centennial project in 1990, the Boise Metro Rotary Club, and the Boise City Parks & Recreation Department combined both work and financing to restore the cemetery, install a new fence and create an interpretive park area outside the fence.
Please feel free to stop by to visit Pioneer Cemetery, and take the Pioneer Cemetery Walking Tour.