By Karen Huwe
The Times 

Around the Valley: With Karen Huwe

Walla Walla Cemetery Tour


October 13, 2022

Karen Huwe

Mary A. Rice Willcoxson time traveled to tell her story.

Taking a cemetery tour might not be on everyone's bucket list, yet it is a place with tons of historical information. Joanna Lanning led about 50 people on a tour of the Mountain View Cemetery in Walla Walla on a beautiful fall day, and the crowd heard stories from Lanning and other volunteers. 

Walking the grounds with Lanning, we learned that the cemetery is the resting place for over 40,000 beloved souls, including around 3,000 veterans. There were originally four separate cemeteries, and in 1989 all four came under city ownership. The oldest recorded burials on the 80-acre site were in February 1850 and December 1854.

Three residents of the cemetery time traveled from the mid-1800s to the present day to tell us their life stories.

Mary A. Rice Willcoxson's tale was one of murder and suicide. Willcoxson was 53 and lived in Walla Walla when she killed her 21-year-old son and then turned the .38 caliber Colt revolver on herself while her husband was away on business.

Born in 1854, Jessie Gilliam Day was 85 years old when she passed in 1940. She was the second wife of the founder of Dayton, Washington, Jesse Day. Her family homesteaded what is now known as Dixie in 1859. Day was once the Walla Walla County School Superintendent and the first female employee of the Walla Walla Evening Bulletin.

John Franklin Boyer (1824–1897) was cofounder and the first president of Baker Boyer Bank. He was also the County Treasurer for 12 years.

Some of you might have heard of Sarah Hope Summers (June 7, 1902 – June 22, 1979) an American character actress. She portrayed Clara Edwards, Aunt Bee's best friend on the Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD.

The Walla Walla Cemetery offers guided tours each spring and fall. Take the tour next year and learn more about why Willcoxson committed murder and other interesting facts about those buried at Mountain View Cemetery.


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