Newcastle’s Coal Miners Cemetery – Part 1

Did you know that there is a cemetery in the City of Newcastle? Well, there is, and it is a registered King County Historic Landmark. Located on 129th Ave SE, just north of the entrance to Lake Boren Park , lies a 2.02 acre parcel that has served as the final resting place for coal miners and their families since 1878. The site consists of rocky non-arable land that overlooks Lake Boren. In fact, the ground was so rocky that blasting was often required to prepare a grave site. Jim Rannie (34) was the first internment on the property given to the International Order of Odd Fellows in 1879. The IOOF maintained ownership of the property until 2001 when it was donated to the City of Newcastle.

We don’t know how many people are buried here, but existing headstones and documentation indicate at least 190 have been laid to rest at this site. Many of the original headstones have been vandalized or removed. In addition, wooden markers and fences outlining grave sites were destroyed by two fires during the 1900’s. In some cases, the graves were marked by a ring of stones and they have been covered by moss and natural vegetation.

The existing headstones tell a story of the migration of Irish and Scots in the 1880’s, Welsh, Swedes ,Belgians, English, around 1900, followed by Blacks, Germans, Italians, Slavs, Finns, Croatians, and Serbians. The deaths of children identify years of disease outbreaks. Frequently the deceased speak to us through their epitaphs; “Weep not father and mother for me, for I am waiting in glory for thee.”

“Death to me short warning give; Therefore be careful how you live; Prepare in time, do not delay; For I was quickly called away.”

Not all stories about cemeteries are sad. In 1918, a lady named Emmy had a heart attack and was declared deceased. Now Emmy was said to be a loud and obnoxious woman and would not be missed by too many. Her husband arranged a funeral service and burial in the cemetery. The entrance to the cemetery is steep, and one of the pall-bearers slipped and dropped the coffin. To everyone’s surprise, Emmy popped right up and demanded to know what was going on.

Two weeks later the original diagnosis came true and Emmy died. Once again her husband arranged a service and burial. This time, however, he cautioned the pall-bearers to watch their footing because he could not afford another service for his wife.

The cemetery is closed to new burials except for relatives of those already interred.

The cemetery is generally closed to the public except for Memorial Day and during Newcastle Days. To arrange a visit, or to participate in the restoration of the cemetery contact the Newcastle Historical Society.

The next two articles will be about individuals at rest in the cemetery. This is the aspect of the history of Newcastle that is so exciting to me. Our mining history is only 150 years old, and we know about the people that made that history.

If you are interested in learning more about the activities of the Newcastle Historical Society, or would like to share your local history with us please contact me at or come to one of our events.

Rich Crispo

2 Responses

  1. Kimberly
    Kimberly August 7, 2019 at 7:02 pm | | Reply

    I use to ride my bike to this Cemetery…I would read the gravestones and try to put them back upright….late 1960’s…..My Great Grandfather named Hazelwood and his son had the 40 acres just west of the pipeline, Harry Guay, he bought it in the 40’s with no easements on it…the gas company came in and tried to put the pipeline on his acreage and well he met them with a shotgun. My Great Grandfather, Charles Paul Guay and his wife’s brother’s Mars and Pat Fortin came here from Quebec in the 1880’s after leaving the Algonquin Indian tribe on the St. Laurence River….they had intermixed with the French Jesuits in 1790…. they logged in the area and mined in the Coal Creek mines, they also went up to Alaska for the Gold Rush. They saw Seattle catch on fire and tried to get a boat to cross Lake WA at Enati/Newport shores…but all of the boats were gone….so they went to the top of Newport Hills to watch it burn down. Lake Boren had a train de-rail and sink to the muddy bottom…never found…thus we called it the bottomless lake. I remember pictures of rural Hazelwood and Newcastle back in the day with not very many houses…wow has it changed. My sister and many relatives still live in Hazelwood as it use to be horse and cow country. You can no longer ride horses along Lake Wa Blvd…like we use to….and Peggy Whitman’s last 10 acres is being developed….she use to board race horses for Longacres Track. Dorothy McLendon Thompson moved away a long time ago to Downtown Bellevue and has passed…but the big ‘ol Craftsman is still on Lake Wa Blvd SE. The Brimlow’s had an ice skating pond in the winter time down from Hazelwood Elementary School where we would skate…yes….it would freeze over….very shallow. We built an igloo one winter when we had 4’ of snow and it stayed for more than a week.

  2. Cameron J Brewer
    Cameron J Brewer April 9, 2021 at 12:51 pm | | Reply

    I grew up close to the cemetery. Our house was one of the first to be built in Newport Woods on SE 73rd Pl. It was the mid to late 60’s and for a 10 year old, a magical place. We kids would sometimes head to the lake. swim and play, and then head home later in the evening, walking thru the cemetery. The older kids would tell scary stories, as we would gather around with flashlights. We would all run home before it got too dark. The older kids were good on teaching us the respect the residence of the cemetery. Sometimes you would notice a headstone knocked over, but we would try to place it back. I lived there from 65-72.

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