Jarrell’s Cove Cemetery History
In 1852 Robert Jarrell came to the Puget Sound area, making a permanent settlement on Harstine Island in 1872. Homesteading 160 acres of choice land he ran a very successful logging business for some years. In 1878 he married Philura thus becoming the first non-native family on Harstine. Philura being the only non-native woman for the first fifteen years. Their home was located at the head of Jarrell’s Cove, which was named after them. Robert died in 1894, at 65. He was buried on “land just out back of his house.” Philura erected a monument and planted four small fir trees around the grave. As they had no heirs, on February 19, 1987, Philura deeded to Jacob Wingert and all residents of Harstine Island one half acre of land on what is known as the Robert Jarrell homestead, the same to be used exclusively by the public as a public burying ground. Philura died on Good Friday in 1913, and was buried on Easter Sunday, at 83. Jake Wingert, a neighbor, had the name of Mrs. Jarrell placed on the monument she had erected for her husband. The Jarrells are buried in the southwest corner surrounded by four Douglas Fir trees well over 175 feet tall and covered with English Ivy.
Burials have taken place continuously overs the years and in the early days one would see men, dressed in their finest, headed to the cemetery with shovels over their shoulders to participate in the completion of the burial. The early hand dug graves were not in straight rows. Today one can see that some are decorated with shoes of the deceased, a custom of the Scandinavians who first settled the island. There are markers of all kinds and some shrubs and trees are now overgrown. The cemetery has a sparkling white flagpole, a sitting bench, and a memorial garden in the northwest corner opposite the “infant harbor.” In spring over one hundred rhododendrons, donated by Jim Bowers in the 1970’s in memory of his wife and planted by Grangers, Al & Francis and Hildur & Bill Ashby, are in bloom. It is a truly beautiful sight.
The road to the cemetery used to run through the school yard next door and the cemetery was often the scene of “hide and seek” playing or hunting for colored eggs at Easter time. A new access road was built from North Island Drive in 1971 after a donation of land from the Scott family. In 1975 a parking lot was constructed. The cemetery fund has paid for improvements to the road and parking lot.
Families of the deceased care for the individual graves and islanders provide general care. In the 1970’s Joe LaLande, Sid Baunsgard, Ervie Wingert, Tom Tierney, Bill Ashby, Al Bacon and other citizens upgraded the cemetery including a survey, building a fence, clearing and establishing a Memorial Garden for cremated remains. Their work led to the formation of a Cemetery Board which makes decisions necessary for the cemetery operations and the cleanup prior to Memorial Day. They also meet with family members to stake the graves for the deceased and keep the cemetery records. The Harstine Island Community Club promotes the annual cleanup and helps collect donations and memorials which are held in a trust account for cemetery maintenance and improvements.
Each summer the water tank in the northeast corner of the cemetery is filled when the Fire District’s tanker is tested. The water is used to irrigate the plants and shrubs and is not safe for drinking.
Hundreds of similar cemeteries exist in Washington State, perhaps 40 in Mason County alone. One other is located on the island at Ballow. This cemetery has graves of some of the earliest settlers.
Jarrell’s Cove Cemetery has functioned for 120 years and is a community facility of which we all can be very proud. Hopefully it can continue to provide a final resting place for Harstine Island residents in future years.
On Memorial Day weekend, May 26, 2018, a Dedication Ceremony was held at Jarrell’s Cove Cemetery recognizing it as a “Mason County Historic Register Designation” site and receiving a “Place of Historic Interest” plaque, along with presenting new informational signs. Each Memorial Day weekend we honor the veterans buried there by putting flags on their graves in recognition of their service to our country.
Additional information can be found in:
The Island Remembers A History of Harstine Island and Its People by Beulah Hitchcock and Helen Wingert on pages 60-64, 93, 100, 126, 151, 153, 155, 158, 160. First published in 1979 and currently for sale at the Women’s Club booth, Saturday Farmers Markets.
Harstine Island Cemeteries written by Elizabeth McElroy Allison in 1967, copy attached.
The Jarrell’s Cove Cemetery History written by Gerri Waite Lewis in 1998, copy attached. Framed copy is located in the Harstine island Community Hall.
Harstine Island Community Club archives found (in the basement) filing cabinet: Cemeteries section 8 e; and in fire-proof safe a white binder titled Jarrell’s Cove Cemetery the application for the “Mason County Historical Register” and “Place of Historic Interest” Plaque Sept. 8, 2017. Including Warranty deeds, Quit-Claim deeds, Land Survey August 1971, and other related information.