Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery -- Seattle

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 7/20/1999
  • Essay 1508

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was a fraternal organization of Union Army veterans formed after the Civil War (1861-1865) for the "defense of the late soldiery of the United States, morally, socially, and politically." By 1890, membership numbered 400,000, including a chapter in Seattle. In Seattle the land for the cemetery -- 2.3 acres at the corner of 12th Avenue E and E Howe Street, just north of the present Lake View Cemetery -- was donated in 1895 by Huldah and David Kaufman, who came to Seattle in 1869 and were among the first Jewish families in Seattle. Approximately 219 Union veterans and their wives are interred there.

During World War II, the property was used by the Coast Artillery for an anti-aircraft search light battery and barracks.

In 1923, as membership dwindled due to death and infirmity, the organization transferred title of most of the land to the City of Seattle, which now maintains it as part of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the G.A.R. exercised a significant political influence, always supporting the Republican Party. In 1956, the organization was disbanded. Its records were sent to the Library of Congress.


Personal communication, Sharon Furutani, City of Seattle, to David Wilma, May 25, 1999; Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, "Grand Army of the Republic," (typescript notes); Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1998); Information about the Kaufmans from Jackie Williams, The Hill with a Future: Seattle's Capitol Hill (Seattle: CPK Ink 2001).

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