WOW! The History of Billings’ Cemeteries is Really Fascinating!
Cemeteries can be unsettling places to visit. They give me a sense of respect for the families who have lost their loved ones, but it also affects me spiritually. You may not believe in spirits, but you can't help but have a feeling that you are standing among them. Billings has a rich history of cemeteries that started before the city was even founded. So, before Visit a Cemetery Day on Sunday, let's take a look and perhaps a tour through Billings' cemetery history.
Coulson's Cemetery Was the First
I visited the Boothill Cemetery in the Heights a while back and took some photos of the graves and obelisk on display there. According to the signs on display there, the cemetery belonged to the town of Coulson, the predecessor to Billings. It was called the Boothill Cemetery due to the idea that most of the dead were buried with their boots still on. The site today is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Billings Cemetery was established in 1882 after the settlement of the city. Today, the cemetery still exists, however, it has since expanded quite a bit and changed its name to Mountview Cemetery. Some folks in Billings view this cemetery as an extremely historic part of the city, as many influential civic capitalists who expanded the city of Billings in the 19th and 20th centuries are buried there to this day.
Many Important Names Laid to Rest at Mountview
The most important names are military veterans, which are buried in a separate location at Mountview. As well as those veterans, there are American Civil War veterans Alonzo Young and John Alderson. Young's name contributed to a landmark along the Yellowstone River near Park City, and Alderson ran the National Hotel that put Coulson "on the map" in the 1800s. Unfortunately, both men's contributions are largely forgotten about today.
I recommend visiting a cemetery someday, maybe during Visit a Cemetery Day on October 30th. If you ever find yourself inside one of these cemeteries, please make sure to treat it with respect. But also, enjoy the history and pay your respects. It's such a unique experience.