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History Lesson – A Micro-tour of Evergreen Cemetery with Jack O’Donnell

by wpoischbeg-
history-lesson-micro-tour-evergreen-cemetery-jack-odonnell

Like many people who live in Everett, WA, I have always been intrigued by the history of Rucker Tomb, the massive pyramid-shaped mausoleum that stands stately in the Northern corner of Evergreen Cemetery. It has long been a town landmark, (as well as a late-night high-school hangout) and even the backdrop for a gun battle in the Sylvester Stallone/Antonio Banderas movie, The Assassins.  

Maybe its because the leafless trees along 41st have given me a clear view of the tomb each morning as I drive to work that I keep thinking about it – and every time I pass I make a mental note to call local historian Jack O’Donnell to see if he would be willing to give me a personal tour. Well, last week, I finally sent Jack a note – and he willingly obliged.

It was raining and windy the day we wandered through some of the 100 acres of cemetery hillside where more than 50,000 people are buried. We made our way to the tomb which stands nearly 30-feet and made entirely of Index sandstone and Red Beach granite brought from Maine.

It was built in 1907 for the members of the Rucker family who are among the founding families of Everett. They also owned the Everett-Monte Cristo Railway. The tomb cost $30,000 to build which was a fortune at the time.

 

 

There are 22 crypts in the pyramid, nearly half are occupied. Members of the Rucker family still live in the area.

We continued our walk through the old part of the cemetery when Jack noted the marker for  Eugene D. Smith (1837-1909) and Margaret Getchell Smith (1840-1909). Eugene is credited with the creation of Lowell.  Unlike many young men seeking adventure in the west, E. D. Smith appears to have come to the region to engage in logging.  Partnering with Otis Wilson, Smith worked in the Brown’s Bay area that later became Edmonds, WA.  By summer of 1863, E.D. established himself at Lowell, claiming land from squatters. With solid experience behind him by this time, he set up a logging camp in Lowell and began creating a town.

Another noteworthy figure buried at the Evergreen Cemetery is Rachael Wolfley, Barack Obama’s great, great, great, grandmother. Her original, simple grave marker had her name misspelled and was damaged by age. This newer marker seems unworthy of her stature and I hope a more appropriate marker can be established for her.

We visited countless other sites while Jack regaled me stories of buried governors, outlaws and murderers (and their victims) and even the 150 civil war veterans buried here. (Who knew?) 

 

This was my first time touring a cemetery and I must admit I found it fascinating. Ready to go on your own exploration of long-gone but not forgotten figures of Everett’s past? The Everett Public Library curated a podcast and map of noteworthy figures buried at the Evergreen Cemetery located at 4504 Broadway. If you go, dress warmly and wear sturdy shoes, as the slopes can be steep and slippery. 

And it’s not lost on me that this blog post is categorized under “Stay”. Maybe just stay long enough to pay your respect and well, then go eat and love!!

wpoischbeg

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