SEATTLE – Two years after his death and burial, Hiram “Okanogan” Smith’s mortal remains were disinterred, moved, and lost, until recently.
Oroville researcher Dorothy Petry, working with Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery’s Julie Lundquist, believes Smith’s burial plot has been found.
Hiram Francis Smith, born 1829, is credited as the father of Washington State’s apple industry. Settling on the eastern banks of Lake Osoyoos, Smith planted his first apples in the late 1850s. He later served as a legislator for Washington territory and state. Smith died in Seattle’s Diller Hotel on Sept. 9, 1893, after a prolonged illness terminating in pneumonia. Three State Senators and three State Representatives served as pall bearers at his Sept. 12 funeral. According to Smith’s funeral home record, his body was interred in section 130 of Lake View. Close by are the graves of the Yesler family, the Ranke family, Chief Seattle’s granddaughter Angeline, and other notables.
In 1895, someone, for unknown reason or reasons, had the remains removed from their original burial space. Lake View records indicate it cost seven dollars to have Smith’s casket moved. No one knew the body’s new location until recently.
Petry took up the mission of finding Smith’s burial site a number of years ago. This was long after Okanogan Judge William Compton Brown searched for it in the mid-1950s. Historian Bruce Wilson failed to find the plot in a 1983 search.
When Petry connected with Lake View’s Customer Service Coordinator Lundquist she also sent her copies of articles relating to Smith, his life, death, and his missing remains. Lundquist reported the cemetery had no record of what had become of Smith. Petry kept searching for details and contacted Lundquist again seeking more information. Recently Lundquist was successful in the search for Smith’s burial site.
Hiram Smith was reburied in Lake View’s lot 873 under the name “Smith Okanogan.” Whether the missing coma was a clerical error or a secret plot remains a mystery. The resulting name reversal has kept Smith’s burial site a secret since 1895. He was there all the time.
The Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society has presented Lindquist with a commemorative photo of an original Smith apple tree in bloom with his likeness inset at the side, as well as dried apples from the tree itself.