Many's the tragedy, many's the heroic deed, the love story and the dark secret buried beneath the headstones at Lakeview Cemetery. How appropriate to tour Seattle's oldest cemetery before Memorial Day.
My guide is Robert Ferguson. He has a collectibles shop on Capitol Hill; but, in his spare time, he's pieced together tales of townsfolk who lie buried at Lakeview. He conducts group tours and is writing a guidebook.
Ferguson begins in the northwest corner - "the Beverly Hills of Lakeview" - with the monument to mill owner Henry Yesler.
"Henry's buried here with his first wife, Sarah, but not his second wife, Minnie, and that's where the scandal comes in," says Ferguson. "When Sarah died in 1887, Henry, then in his 80s, scandalized the town by bringing his second cousin, Minnie, to town. They lived in sin before marrying. Minnie was never `received' in Seattle society. After Henry died, she declined to be buried here."
NEXT STOP is the grave of Princess Angeline, Chief Seattle's daughter, who asked to be buried near her friend and mentor, Henry Yesler. Ferguson explains: "Angeline originally was called Kickisomlo-Cud or Cud. But Catherine, Doc Maynard's wife, told her, `You're too handsome a woman for a name like that.' Catherine christened her Angeline."
Ferguson pauses to relate how Seattle developer Henry Broderick became trapped in the cemetery one night. At dusk, Broderick took a shortcut through the grounds in horse and buggy. He lost his way and, by the time he returned the entrance, the gate was locked.
In quick succession, Ferguson points out graves of William Pickering, son of the first territorial governor; Guy Phinney, street-car builder whose estate later became Woodland Park, and Phinney's partner, banker Luther Griffith.
"Phinney and Griffith were partners in life and in death, buried in adjacent plots," notes Ferguson. Many business associates hobnob in the graveyard. Take Lyman W. Bonney and his partner, Harry Watson of Bonney-Watson. They, too, rest side by side.
GRANITE MONUMENTS in this section are soaring obelisks, 18 and 20 feet tall. They say, "I'm important."
Blame the ostentation on the widows. Ferguson says, "The wives survived and competed with one another. Stonecutters were the General Motors of early Seattle."
In their shadow lies the modest grave site of William Guthrie Latimer, first Seattleite of European descent. Latimer arrived in 1850, a year before the Dennys and the Borens.
Nearby is the grave of Mrs. S.P. Smith, first to be buried at Lakeview in April 1873. The city's original booster, Doc Maynard, would have been Lakeview's first burial, had his heirs not waited for a road to be built.
Lastly, Ferguson points out the resting place of James Osborne, owner of the Gem Saloon, one of the establishments that gave Seattle its "Sin City" reputation. Osborne left his estate to the city for construction of an opera house.
Ferguson asks, "Do you suppose it was civic pride? Or atonement?" It's a question only the graves can answer.
Jean Godden's column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Northwest section of The Times. Her phone is 464-8300.