On a lonely hillside above Mountain Cove Road sits Fort Boise Military Cemetery, a time capsule offering us history buffs a small glimpse of Boise in its wilder days. This cemetery, however, once sat at a different location...a spot ill suited to house Boise's dead. The current location of the Archery Range managed by the City of Boise Parks & Recreation and the holding pond above is approximately the site of Boise's first burial ground. The fort's cemetery was, in actuality, three different cemeteries next to one another. The military cemetery linked to the Catholic and citizen graves which in turn sat near a small Jewish burial ground. Several key problems led to the United States Army eventually moving the cemeteries in 1907.
Since 1863, and the fort's first burials, the flooding of Cottonwood Creek had been an issue; unearthed bodies flowed through town and into the Boise River. (Idaho Daily Statesman - May 6, 1907 pg. 4) Loose stock roamed freely in the foothills, trampling over sagebrush and grave markers alike. Too many people were being buried in the citizen cemetery with little to no organization...the authorities did not really know how many burials the ground held. Finally, the military authorities wanted to turn the former cemetery into a new firing range. After Morris Hill Cemetery opened in 1882, Boiseans began burying their dead on the Boise Bench. In 1907, many of the citizens buried next to the fort were moved to Morris Hill along with some soldiers. The remainder, comprising most of the soldiers and a few citizens, moved to eternally rest on the hillside where they now remain. Yet, not all graves were accounted for; they likely still lie at the previous location.
The attached map of Fort Boise, aka the Boise Barracks after 1879, dates to 1884 and shows the cemetery's location on the far right edge. The photos are the only two known photos of the original Fort Boise Military Cemetery.
Image: Idaho Daily Statesman May 6, 1907
Map: G 4272.R2 B63 1884 - Idaho State Historical Society