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BEST FAMILY-Kootenai Co. and area

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Re: BEST FAMILY-Kootenai Co. and area

Posted: 20 Nov 2001 7:58PM GMT
Classification: Cemetery
Edited: 11 Jan 2006 1:12AM GMT
Spokesman Review June 11, 2001

Lost cemeteries Family graveyards can be a burden for heirs, neighbors
[IDAHO Edition]
Spokesman Review
Spokane, Wash.
Jun 11, 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Authors: Hazel Barrowman Correspondent

Pagination: A1

Dateline: COEUR D'ALENE

Personal Names: Best, Ronald L
Follette, Lois
Yates, Dexter
Shane, Al
Dahlgren, Dorothy


Abstract:

The Colonial Dames had big plans for the small cemetery, said Lois Follette,
a Coeur d'Alene member. The group wanted to turn it into a small neighborhood
park, using a miniature version of [Partington]'s original plat, she said.

Before the land surrounding the present-day Hope Cemetery was sold,
the St. Pius Church in Coeur d'Alene had an opportunity to buy the platted
5-acre cemetery, [Dexter Yates] said. But the church already had the St.
Thomas Cemetery.

2 Color photos Map: Hope Cemetery; 1. [Ronald L. Best], born in 1926, is
owner and caretaker of a family cemetery in north Coeur d'Alene, where
it now is surrounded by homes. Photos by Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review
2. A simple grave marker is almost hidden in the overgrowth at Hope Cemetery,
where members of the Best family were buried form the 1890s to 1914.
(Copyright 2001 Cowles Publishing Company)

Full Text:

At first glance, you wouldn't know it was a cemetery.

Bordered by a rusty barbed-wire fence, this half-acre at the end of
Eighth Street off Gilbert Avenue in north Coeur d'Alene is surrounded by
houses and taken over by shrubbery and weeds.

About 100 years ago, the land, owned by the Best family, was a small
portion of a five-acre plat that was to be the Hope Cemetery. Designed
by F.G. Partington in 1907, it was planned to be a grand and peaceful resting
place.

Today, the small and humble Hope Cemetery is owned by Ronald L. Best,
75. Although Best is the sole caretaker for his family's cemetery, the
weeds often are in charge. Eight headstones are visible upon entering the
cemetery, yet there are 10 recorded burials. The first was in 1893 - Best's
father's 5-year-old sister, Iva May. Lucia Aurora Babbitt was the last
in 1914.

Best said that although Partington, who was Best's father's brother-in-law,
designed the cemetery with more than 800 grave sites, most of the land
was sold after Partington abandoned the project. The Hope Cemetery remains
a shadow of its original design, and the Best family is left with the job
of maintaining the grounds. Best inherited the land from his father and
is responsible for paying the taxes.

A similar situation plays out among numerous privately owned cemeteries
in North Idaho. Many have fallen into disrepair as growth pushes neighborhoods
up around them and the families that own them pass away.

Some have been taken over by cities, but preservation can be a struggle
when no records exist to show where graves are located.

Best says he's the only one who takes care of Hope Cemetery these days,
and it's a lot of work for one man. His relatives have little interest
or are unable to help, he said.

In 1994 and 1995, the local chapter of the National Society of Colonial
Dames XVII Century, a historical preservation group, took on the cemetery
as one of its projects. The group helped repair the fence, donated a new
sign, and cleared the brush around the graves.

The Colonial Dames had big plans for the small cemetery, said Lois Follette,
a Coeur d'Alene member. The group wanted to turn it into a small neighborhood
park, using a miniature version of Partington's original plat, she said.

"It was going to be absolutely spectacular," said Follette. The Dames'
project was slowed because the land was privately owned, and little could
be done to preserve their work for the future, Follette said.

"This is the problem with private cemeteries," said Dexter Yates, owner
of the Yates Funeral Home in Coeur d'Alene. "They don't think past the
next 100 years."

Yates explained that even if the Best family were to sell the land,
it would still be recorded by Kootenai County as an existing cemetery.
The land could not be built on unless the graves were removed, which is
unlikely.

Yates also explained that cemeteries come with an automatic built- in
easement for anyone who has family buried there. No matter who owns the
cemetery, the family has a right to visit the land.

Other privately owned cemeteries have similar problems.

The Pine Grove cemetery in Rathdrum, originally owned by the Post family,
was eventually turned over to the city. Yet many of the grave markers were
lost or destroyed throughout the years, and no records could be found.
The city was left with an awkward and daunting task, says Al Shane, who
has spent about 15 years cataloguing graves throughout Benewah, Kootenai,
Boundary and Bonner counties with his wife, Betty.

Shane explained that when the markers are destroyed, little or no record
remains of where graves are located.

An abandoned cemetery in Loffs Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene has only one
grave marker, yet there are about 19 recorded burials there, Shane said.

"The Post Falls Cemetery has a section on the north end that's in limbo,"
Shane said. Most of the wooden markers were burned when a train caught
on fire nearby years ago. Today the city doesn't know if, or where, many
of the graves exist.

"You'd be lucky to find the abandoned cemetery in Colburn," Shane said.
And the Northside Cemetery in Bonners Ferry cannot be found because there's
a house built on it, he said.

Dorothy Dahlgren's small family cemetery, located on Coeur d'Alene Mountain,
is situated within a housing development. The cemetery is essentially part
of someone's back yard, said Dahlgren, who directs the Museum of North
Idaho.

The homeowner has taken down the fence and has landscaping plans for
the cemetery, but has assured the family he will respect their historical
site, Dahlgren said.

"People are building around these old cemeteries, and either trying
to make them part of their landscape or obliterating them," she said. As
far as she knows, Dahlgren said, no legislation exists to protect the cemeteries.

Before the land surrounding the present-day Hope Cemetery was sold,
the St. Pius Church in Coeur d'Alene had an opportunity to buy the platted
5-acre cemetery, Yates said. But the church already had the St. Thomas
Cemetery.

"It will probably be a long time before something happens to that land,"
Yates said.

Best said he is interested in turning the cemetery over to the city,
yet is unsure if the city wants it.

City parks officials say that there would be a lot to consider - including
maintenance and taxes - in order to have a private cemetery become public.
The first step would be to send a proposal to Doug Eastwood, director of
parks and recreation.

So the historical Hope Cemetery sits quietly in neglect, nestled among
newly constructed homes, in the heart of what was once the Best family
settlement.

2 Color photos Map: Hope Cemetery; Caption: 1. Ronald Best, born in 1926,
is owner and caretaker of a family cemetery in north Coeur d'Alene, where
it now is surrounded by homes. Photos by Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review
2. A simple grave marker is almost hidden in the overgrowth at Hope Cemetery,
where members of the Best family were buried form the 1890s to 1914.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.


=============================== End of Document ================================

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Harrigan94 19 Aug 2001 7:02PM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 14 Nov 2001 10:12PM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 20 Nov 2001 5:15AM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 20 Nov 2001 5:18AM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 20 Nov 2001 5:23AM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 21 Nov 2001 2:58AM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 21 Nov 2001 4:43AM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 4 Jan 2002 4:54AM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 4 Jan 2002 5:26AM GMT 
MaryGarrison9... 4 Jan 2002 5:41AM GMT 
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