|BETHEL CEMETERY DOCENT (#47486552)|
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A CEMETERY RESURRECTED -HISTORY OF BETHEL CEMETERY SOMERS, FLATHEAD COUNTY, MONTANA By Michael T. Morton |
The now two acre cemetery on North Somers Road that was to become known as Bethel was originally called Brocken Cemetery prior to 1900 because George Brocken was an influential land owner in the surrounding area. The property was part of Peter St. Peter's homestead and was passed to Archie St. Peter on May 28, 1887. The property then passed to Charles Stine. On May 12, 1894 the then 1/2 acre church property was deeded to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Selish County. (An early County designation that no longer exists). What is now Flathead County was part of Missoula County until 1893.
On May 5, 1900 Charles Stine gave the property to Fred and Hannah Stine. On February 2, 1901 the Stine's deeded the remaining 1 1/2 acres to the Trustees of the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church of Flathead County for cemetery purposes. Bethel Cemetery itself did not become of record until the plat of the lots was surveyed, dedicated and recorded on January 6, 1908. The first person of record interred there was Agnes Mosler on July 25, 1895. She had homesteaded by Patent in the Brocken area on December 12, 1888.
In 1895 John O'Brien of the O'Brien Lumber Company (which provided most of railroad ties for the building of the Seattle to Minneapolis Northern Pacific Railroad) donated a bunkhouse which was moved to the Bethel property. This little one room building was painted and remodeled and set on a foundation facing the road. The church was officially dedicated on March 8, 1908. For many years the church stood in the open country and was a familiar landmark in the community & the Ball family who are buried in Lots 30 & 31 were early officers of the Cemetery.
The church building was ultimately demolished in 1945 when a new church building was constructed in the town of Somers proper. That church was closed in 1985 and from then until 2000 the Somers Grange Hall members took over maintenance of the cemetery as a community service. The cemetery itself reverted back to Yellowstone Conference in Billings, Montana, the headquarters for the Montana Methodists. In July 1999 the Methodist Council deeded the cemetery property to the Bethel Cemetery Association which is a non profit of record with the Secretary of State of Montana.
It should be noted the Yellowstone Conference received no records regarding the cemetery or its interments and there had not been a sale of a lot since the 1940s. One of the Somers Grange members had a map of people who purchased lots there, but not who was buried in the plots. The Flathead Genealogical Society had published a list of who was buried there, but not where. Local historian Betty Burton had gone through Flathead County death records and also compiled a list of who was buried there, but not where.
I further researched State and County Death Records – Historic newspaper obits- Census records -local funeral home records and countless other resources and created a master list. This list is still a work in progress as people said to be buried there have no plot designations. The list can be provided upon request. This Find a Grave site is awesome but there a number of posting listed here as being buried at Bethel that are not correct.
Since 1999 the new BCA has marked most of the older grave sites, added the date to Bethel entrance sign and erected a reader board on site with a plot map and much more. Anyone having documentation or older photos regarding the cemetery or a person actually buried there, I would enjoy hearing from you Thank you
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Hello, I am not affiliated with the town of Halcyon or the Temple of the People. I do live in the 5 cities, Arroyo Grande on the Mesa. One day my husband and I walked the cemetery and photographed all the headstones. I had just purchased a book called The Dunites and it told the story about Edward C St. Claire's life which is one of the headstones. I did my own research for each persons headstone, I have transferred a few to families that requested them and added information when it is sent to me. Take Care Jenny