Walla Walla County
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
McCool Catholic Cemetery aka Pine Crest Cemetery
According to authors Harriet & Adrian Munnick, the original Catholic chapel at Third & Birch in Walla Walla was built in 1859. In 1864 it was replaced by a frame church building at 6th & Alder in 1864, where the current Saint Patrick's Church stands.
The first Catholic cemetery was near the site of the new church. The first burial recorded there appears from church records to have been October 9, 1859.
Ten years later, because of overcrowding at the original St. Patrick's cemetery, on September 30, 1869 the Bishop of Nisqually obtained a deed from Robert and Margaret McCool for a 450' x 152' plot of land which lies just south of the current Highway 125 to Milton-Freewater and west of the Plaza Shopping Center Complex.
In October 1891, after ten years of overcrowding at the McCool cemetery, a ten acre plot just south of the
Mountain View city cemetery was purchased by the Catholic Church for a new cemetery. It was expected at the time that many of those having relations in the McCool cemetery would move them to the new cemetery.
The Catholic Bishop at Spokane sold the McCool cemetery grounds on October 31, 1969. More recently, the pastor of St. Patrick church gave the current owner of the McCool cemetery property a letter dated January 11, 2002 verifying that the cemetery "has been abandoned, and that all of the bodies formerly interred there were exhumed and re-interred at Mountain View Cemetery of Walla Walla". Unfortunately, that did not occur.
When Pine Crest Village and Village Way were developed in the vicinity of the McCool Cemetery in the 1970's, multiple burials were encountered in the construction of streets and residences in the area and reported to law enforcement authorities, though no action was taken to halt development or to otherwise protect the burials.
Following the adoption of the protective provisions of the Abandoned and Historic Cemeteries Act in 1990, RCW Chapter 68.60, at the time further construction was contemplated and two archaeological studies were performed that identified the presence of multiple coffins on the McCool site, numbering between 60 and 70.
The first study encountered the burial of a Native American sitting in an upright position with no coffin, dating back more than 150 years, and indicating that the burial ground predated white settlement.
The second archaeological study found additional burials with coffins in other parts of the site, both inside the deeded cemetery's boundaries and outside of it. As a result, the boundaries of the deeded cemetery have been expanded to incorporate the ground where those additional burials were found, pursuant to the protective provisions of the Act.
Official Catholic burial records transcribed and published by Harriet and Adrian Munnick in their book, Catholic Church Records of the Pacific Northwest, make no specific mention of the McCool cemetery. However, the Munnick's indicate that the congregation of St. Patrick's "had a cemetery of their own, though, just where needs some clarification"; perhaps the abandoned burial ground at Pine Crest (McCool) served until the "new cemetery" was purchased adjacent to the City Cemetery at Mountain View in 1891."
An article in the Walla Walla Union Journal from October 26, 1891 announcing plans for the new Catholic cemetery at Mountain View makes clear that McCool was in fact the existing cemetery for St. Patrick parish. The article states, "The deed for a new cemetery for the Catholic Church has been long felt, and the congregation on a number of occasions have endeavored to secure grounds in the vicinity of the old cemetery, but have always been unable to do so. The old burial ground, on the McCool farm, below the city, has been in use for nearly a quarter of a century, and for the past ten years has been over crowded." The overcrowding at McCool was confirmed by the second archaeological study there, which discovered that several graves contained newer coffins placed on top of older coffins.
Regarding the fate of the original cemetery near the church, the Munnicks write, "A pioneer woman who lived at the rear of the church when a child, recalled that as far back as 1903 she could peep through a high board fence and see stones with inscriptions still standing there, but remembered none of the names. Many of the graves, but not all, had been removed to the Catholic section of Mountain View Cemetery that opened in 1891. No trace of the other remains."
In church burial records for Walla Walla from 1869 when McCool was purchased to 1891 when the new cemetery at Mountain View was established, only a hand full of entries state that the burial was at St. Patrick's church or St. Patrick 's cemetery, a possible reference to the original cemetery near the church. Most of the remaining entries, including many French and some Indian names, are silent as to burial location, and must be assumed to have taken place at McCool, since no other records were kept.
In order to determine the names of those likely still at McCool, it is possible to list the burials in the Walla Walla church records from the establishment of McCool to the establishment of the new cemetery at Mountain View, other than those from this period later re-interred at Mountain View. Of the many Catholic burials shown in the
Walla Walla church records for this period, few are shown to have been re-interred in the new Mountain View Cemetery.
There are no longer any tombstones at McCool, and none of them were moved to Mountain View Cemetery.
The remaining burials are presumed to still be at McCool.
Daniel N. Clark, 10-3-12
Walla Wall, Walla Walla, WA