We know that more than 50 individuals were interred in the old Fairview cemetery. This burial site is located in the hills west of the old Fairview town site.
The cause of the deaths varied tremendously. Most were natural causes like heart problems, typhoid fever, miner’s consumption (from working in the dry dust in the mines), child birth and pneumonia, while others include a variety of accidents. One man slid off a runaway wagon load of hay and died of injuries after being trampled by a horse. Several died as a result of fires, a drowning, and at least one death appears to have been starvation. One man shot himself. However I have not seen any references to individuals dying as a result of criminal activity.
The earliest burials in the old Fairview cemetery that we have confirmed are from the Tholl family in 1893; however, it certainly is possible that earlier interments took place. Nick Tholl was an immigrant from Luxembourg. He was well known in the Fairview and Boundary Country mining camps. The earliest local reference I have found to him is in the March 17, 1892 Vernon News: “The sawmill lately put up on Reed Creek by N. Tholl is turning out lots of lumber.”
Two additional Tholl references are taken from the Okanagan Mining Review, Okanagan Falls:
September 2, 1893: “Last week Camp Fairview was reminded of the uncertainty of life when the first death of natural causes occurred in its midst. The family which received a visit from the dread messenger was that of Mr. Nicholas Tholl, whose bright little son Peter, a lad of twelve years old, died after a few days’ illness. The cause of death was throat trouble of a very severy [sic] form of quinsy.
Dr. Boyce, the skillful and popular physician of Fairview, whose services are sought in all parts of the Lower Country, was in attendance and did all that human skill could accomplish to save the boy’s life, but this was not to be and death put an end to his sufferings. The funeral was largely attended by those in camp, and the bereaved parents have the sympathy of their many friends. The affliction to which the family have [sic] been subjected is all the greater, in that another of their children is also ill, and at time of writing is in a critical condition. It is sincerely hoped that they may be spared another bereavement.”
September 16, 1893: “Mr. and Mrs. Tholl have lost three more of their children to diphtheria. This makes four deaths inside of two weeks, and all were under 14 years of age. Much sympathy is felt and expressed for them in their bereavement.”
These deaths were apparently the first deaths at Fairview handled by Dr. Boyce, an 1892 McGill University graduate who was brought to Fairview by the Strathyre Mining Company. He was succeeded in 1897 by Dr. R.B. White. Both doctors were, by all accounts, very highly respected.
Several years ago I was contacted by Tom and Jim, brothers from Idaho and Alaska respectively. They were in Oliver researching their Tholl family history and wanted to visit the old Fairview cemetery. I was able to make the arrangements and take them to the cemetery.
The following information came from Tom and Jim.
Their great-grandfather and great-grandmother, John Nicholas (Nick) Tholl and his wife Margaret (Maggie) were living in Fairview and operating the Miner’s Rest Saloon and Boarding House in the Reed Creek gulch when four of their children died in a diphtheria outbreak. The children were Peter Tholl (July 7, 1876–August 1893), William Franklin (Frankie) Tholl (February 23, 1889–Sept 1, 1893), Clarence Raymond Tholl (January 21, 1891–September 3, 1893) and Anna Pearl Tholl (September 11, 1887–September 1893). Their specific locations in the cemetery are the only ones that can be identified as the parents had a metal fence erected around their grave sites. Identification of all the other grave sites in the cemetery has deteriorated and no longer visible.
Below is a photograph of Tom and Jim visiting the graves of some family members who were buried in the old Fairview cemetery.
Maggie Tholl was pregnant with Myrtle (1894–1971), Tom and Jim’s grandmother, when these deaths occurred. Myrtle was born in Fairview. The Tholl family subsequently moved to Anaconda (near Greenwood). There are B.C. Government records of two additional Tholl siblings registered at Greenwood in 1896 and 1898. Also, the January 9, 1897 edition of the Boundary Creek Times has an advertisement for the Anaconda Hotel, N. Tholl Proprietor. The Tholl family moved to Montana around 1905 and on to Idaho in 1907. Nick died in 1918 from blood poisoning after an infection set in from a splinter. Maggie died in 1946.
We believe the most recent burial in the old Fairview cemetery was Arthur Madden in 1921. He was apparently found, sitting upright in a sleigh. This information is taken from old documents and it appears very plausible but I have not been able to independently confirm it. Lumber from Arthur’s sawmill was used to build pews in 1902 for the Fairview Presbyterian Church. These pews are still in use at the United Church in Okanagan Falls. Arthur took a pre-emption in 1906 near what is now Madden Lake, and the lake was named after him. Arthur’s younger brother, James (Jim) Madden, joined him from the Nicola Country to help Arthur with his sawmill. Jim Madden established a small ranch above Fairview. Jim died in 1928, aged 79, and was interred in an unmarked grave in the Oliver cemetery.
The old Fairview cemetery has been fenced to keep the cattle out. A cairn with an inscription honouring the pioneers interred there was constructed jointly by the Okanagan Historical Society and the Oliver and District Heritage Society in 1992.
It is important to note that public access to the cemetery is limited and that private property rights in the area need to be respected.