County to Begin Pursuit of Demersville Cemetery Board

By Beacon Staff

The Demersville Cemetery is one of the oldest graveyards in Flathead County, and now local officials are taking the first steps to ensuring the cemetery remains a historically accurate and modernly up-kept place.

The Flathead County commissioners gave the go-ahead for those interested in better preserving the cemetery to begin the process of creating a board to oversee the cemetery’s maintenance and historical record.

While the commission didn’t actually create the board during its Dec. 19 discussion, the commissioners agreed that interested parties can start workshopping ideas, and then can come back to the commission with a plan.

Commissioner Cal Scott brought up the idea, noting that it would likely lead to creating a cemetery district.

Flathead County Clerk and Recorder Paula Robinson told the commission that her office has been historically responsible for the Demersville Cemetery, which is one of the last remaining pieces of Demersville.

Demersville was a boomtown in the late 1880s, located south of where Kalispell is today. It was supposed to have a train depot, but the town almost immediately became a ghost town after the Great Northern Railway decided to put its division point in modern-day Kalispell.

Many of the town’s original inhabitants are buried in the Demersville Cemetery, offering a glimpse of history of Flathead County’s beginnings.

Robinson said the record keeping for the cemetery has been “haphazard” in the past, with four or five maps and multiple surveys of the same space. This has resulted in confusion about who or what is actually underground.

“We don’t know where everyone is buried,” Robinson told the commission.

Maintenance has also been a bit of an issue in the past, and a board would be able to keep it on schedule. There are other unique challenges at the Demersville Cemetery, such as persistent lilac bushes that grow up through graves and cannot be pulled up for fear of pulling up the grave and its contents as well.

Robinson said the cemetery would also benefit from a sonar project to find out where people are buried. This would help create an accurate map, which would also show where there is open space; the Demersville Cemetery is also where the county buries its indigent dead.

“It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Flathead County and it is our responsibility,” Robinson told the commission.

Scott said he would help spearhead the new project, and that he was already in touch with a group of people interested in the preserving cemetery.

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