A 7-foot-tall polished granite monolith standing out in the countryside would be an interesting thing to view, if only it could be seen through the thick expanse of trees and brush surrounding it. Thanks to some judicious logging and care by the Hillyard Evergreen Cemetery Association, just such a tall monument is now again visible at Resthaven Cemetery.
It stands not far from the road at 10015 N. Market St., having been put in place in 1939 during a rededication ceremony at the cemetery. And it is nearly the only thing in the small cemetery that indicates anyone has ever been buried there.
Only a handful of headstones remain in the cemetery that sits adjacent to the south end of the 14.1-acre Evergreen Cemetery.
There are a few brick grave markers, some of which are unmarked, to note that approximately 60 persons are buried at Resthaven. It is speculated that other markers have sunk into the sandy soil at the site or were stolen or perhaps never put in place for some of the deceased who may have been indigent.
Resthaven was platted in 1909; it was first known as the Hillyard Masonic Cemetery and labeled the Odd Fellows Plat, though there is no evidence that the Odd Fellows buried anyone there. There was no activity of any sort at the cemetery until 1939 when it was renamed Resthaven and title turned over to the Old Age Pension League in a ceremony attended by Mrs. John Bruce Dodd and Howard Ball of Ball and Dodd Funeral Home, along with some 200 area residents.
The large stone monument that was erected at that time is roughly shaped, polished on one side and has inscribed on it “A Tribute to the Old Age Pension League.” It is an excellent example of stone masonry craftsmanship, according to Stephen Emerson, director of Archisto Enterprises, the archeological research company which produced a 2016 survey of rock structures in the county.
Burials took place at Resthaven from 1939 until about 1950. Why it remained unused and virtually abandoned for years afterward is largely unknown, said Paul Manly, sexton of the Hillyard Evergreen Cemetery Association, which owns and oversees operation of both Resthaven and Evergreen.
The monument as well as the cemetery might have remained pretty much abandoned had not the Hillyard VFW post taken an interest in cleaning up and caring for graves in both cemeteries in the early 1990s. First drawn to the site because of the military section in Evergreen, they got busy cleaning out decades of trash, researching names on graves and trying to locate precisely where individuals were buried.
Because the properties were not being otherwise cared for, the Hillyard Evergreen Cemetery Association was formed, largely by members of the VFW post who were interested and involved with genealogical research, and suit was filed seeking ownership. They found out in the process that the legal owner had been dead for five years, so in 2012 ownership was acquired “pretty much just for our court costs,” Manly said.
Boise Cascade came in and logged the trees, creating much more open space, allowing the cemeteries to be better accessible and useable – and better seen. The association is licensed to conduct burials in the cemeteries, and indeed, one has taken place within Resthaven since the association has taken over.
Stephen Emerson noted that while cemeteries are not normally eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the stone monument at Resthaven, because of its architecture and “craftsmanship as displayed on a single monolith, with rough natural surfaces juxtaposed with the smooth face and expertly incised wording,” makes it eligible for listing on its own.
And whether that happens or not, at least people can now get to it, can go and see it, thanks to the VFW and a group of dedicated directors at the Hillyard Evergreen Cemetery Association.
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