About the Masonic Memorial Park

In July 1857, a committee was appointed by Olympia Lodge #1 to "ascertain upon what terms land can be had in this vicinity for burial purposes." On March 20, 1858, the committee reported "that Bro. Hays has offered to the Lodge 2 or 3 acres of ground on his claim, with the provision that the Lodge should improve such ground and Bro. Hays making no charge for the ground, etc." Thereby the Olympia Lodge formed the cemetery in July 1857.

The initial plat of the Masonic Cemetery was prepared and adopted in June 1859. The original document is on display in the Museum of Olympia Lodge #1, at the Masonic Center, 521 North St. Tumwater, WA.

The first interment in this cemetery was James H. Yantis, buried on August 9, 1852. The land belonged to Smith Hays, a charter member of the Olympia Masonic Lodge, #5. Local history including the minutes of the Lodge, are silent as to why this portion of Hay's property was used as a burial ground by the Yantis family.

Additional acreage was deeded to the cemetery from Clanrick Crosby, Nelson & Anna Barnes and Ira Ward.

The Jewish portion was established in 1874 when the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Puget Sound purchased three acres of land in the cemetery for $50. In 1922, a portion of that land was returned to the lodge. In 1955, it was turned over to Temple Beth Hatfiloh. Around 1995, the cemetery purchased another section of land within the Memorial Park. The new section is called the family cemetery and provides an alternative for those who wish to be cremated or buried next to a non-Jewish spouse. Ben Bean oversees the cemetery, as did his brother and father before him. Compiled by Deborah K. Freedman, with help from Jeff Freedman, Herman Kleiner, Fav Witenberg, Si Rose & Hilde Slotnick

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