The journey across the United States during the 1800s gave families an opportunity to lay down roots and become the makers of their own destinies. Those who survived the trek were able to start many traditions and businesses that have lasted until today. One such example is the Marshall Cemetery just outside of Cheney, WA.
The Marshall Cemetery was started in 1866 by Eligah Eldrige, who sold off all his property and possessions and created a fund with that money in order to continue to fund the site. This decision was made to make sure the property would sustain after the county of Marshall township was dissolved. He also included a rule with the fund that any future caretakers may spend the interest of the fund but may not touch the principal.
As of the 1960s, the Garman has been the caretakers of the facility, which has been passed down from Diane Sullivan, the niece of Eligah Eldrige, to now Diane’s daughter, Kathleen Sullivan Garman, who had the unique experience of playing in the cemetery as a child while her mother weeded around the headstones. “We’d walk between the graves, and she had a story about everyone. It may sound morbid to some, but we loved coming out here and my Nana absolutely loved the place (Garman, Pioneer).”
Unlike a number of other pioneer cemeteries that are exclusive to just one or a few families, this cemetery is still active and people are able to purchase plots. The cemetery is also nonprofit but the family receives donations from local families who have family in the cemetery.
The Garman family is looking to keep the family tradition, and the Marshall Cemetery, alive for years to come.
For more on this story by Pia Hallenberg of The Spokesman-Review, click here.