In 1898 a woman on horse back rode the hills around Republic, Washington looking for a suitable burial place for a man who’d recently died. At the time, Republic was a rough and tumble gold rush town filled to the brim with miners, and as yet hadn’t established a cemetery. That all changed when a man named Patrick Callahan died in Republic’s first mining-related accident.
The woman was Mrs. John Stack, and she selected a grassy hillside to the north of town for Callahan’s grave site In 1915, the Republic Cemetery Association was formed, and the location on Klondike Road became the town’s official cemetery. The Republic Cemetery Association’s records now report 1500 burial sites, with 900 more available.
Unfortunately a number of early wooden grave markers were lost when well-intentioned citizens attempted to use a controlled burn to remove weeds that had grown up around the edges of the cemetery. The fire burned out of control. Fred Bremnar of the Republic Cemetery Association described it as “…a good deed, gone bad.” Sadly, there are no written records of those grave sites.
Republic Cemetery isn’t an especially large cemetery or particularly old, nor — according to association records — is anyone famous buried there, but it does have a welcoming openness that makes it a pleasant place to visit or to spend a moment reflecting on the meaning of life. Unlike the class structure of many city cemeteries where some plots are definitely preferable to others, every location in the Republic Cemetery looks out on a view that can only be described as grand. Fred Bremnar says with a touch of pride in his voice, “Our cemetery has the most beautiful view in the state.” Though I haven’t visited every cemetery in the State, I’m willing to risk agreeing with him. The panoramic view of the San Poil River and Curlew Lake valleys and the Kettle Range beyond can only be described as mesmerizing.
As I sit on one of the cemetery’s sun-drenched benches daydreaming of other days and times, it isn’t hard for me to imagine a woman on horse back pausing to take in a valley view that has changed very little in the past 100 years, and deciding, as I have, that it was a fitting place for Patrick Callahan’s final resting place.
Location and Contacts
The Republic Cemetery is located just outside the town of Republic, Washington at 111 Klondike Road. Open daily; year round. Cemetery headstone information may be viewed at http://www.interment.net/data/us/wa/ferry/republic/index.htm
For more information you must mail queries to:
Republic Cemetery Association
P.O. Box 451
111 Klondike Road
Republic, WA 99166
Ferrycounty.com thanks Fred Bremnar of the Republic Cemetery Association for allowing us to interview him for this article.