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Visions of the Past: Bayview Cemetery

Visions of the Past: Bayview CemeteryCemeteries are an intriguing part of any town. The various tombstones of all shapes and sizes show us who has lived in the town and died previous to ourselves. Can these tombstones give us more information about our past besides simply the names and dates of those who have gone on before? Do they reveal important or devastating events forgotten to present inhabitants?

I began by listing all of the tombstone entries, A G, from the Bayview Cemetery. This included over 8,000 names. It was important to get the full death dates to see if there were any patterns around them.

As many tombstones only had a year of death, I went out to gather the full death dates and reasons for death on the individuals.

LDS Family History LibraryBellingham Public Library

WW I

WW II

Korean War

Vietnam WarGraphing the information, I hoped, would show peaks of high death numbers. This would help me to see where to focus my research. Below you see some major wars, although the obvious was not the focus of my research.

Death datesAs I gathered death dates and reasons for death, an intriguing pattern arose. Seven men all died on the same day? What from? What had occurred?

More research showed that a mining accident had occurred on April 8, 1895 at the Blue Canyon Coal Mine killing 23. A disaster long forgotten, this incident is one of Washingtons worst industrial accidents in its history.

I was also interested in why the deaths for WW I were so much higher than any other years. They easily topped all of the other wars. Was something else going on or did that large of a percentage really die from that war?1918-1920

The deaths from World War I were significant, but another pattern showed itself as I discovered more reasons for death in this year.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people thanWWI. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague. The Influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster (Billings).

From this small project, it does seem to be true that by looking at the spikes in deaths over a range of years you can find hidden events from the history of your own town or even the world. Works Cited: Billings, Molly. The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Stanford.edu. Feb 2005. Web. 29 May 2013.