A graceful granite colonnade framing several modest gravestones greets visitors to the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Butte, Montana. This is the place where William Thompson (1838-1900) and Annie Maria Boyce Thompson (1846-1894) were buried, along with two of their children, Arthur and Flora.
A year before he died, eldest son William Boyce Thompson, who wasn’t particularly religious, commissioned the colonnade made from Rhode Island granite to memorialize his parents. He also left a modest tablet in the ground that reads, “To the memory of father, William Thompson, and mother, Annie M. Thompson. whose reightous lives have been an inspiration to their children.”
According to the excellent “Buried in Butte” by Zena Beth McGlashan, plans for the colonnade were probably drawn by New York architect Frank Arnold Colby, who designed the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Yonkers. The design was modeled after one of the five French cloisters at the Cloisters Museum in New York City, which houses Medieval art and architecture.
Thompson (1869-1930) also donated the main gate and the elegant stone wall that lines South Mountain Street. The gift was enough to warrant a ceremony by the cemetery’s founding Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges. The Magnate, who had suffered a stroke several years earlier, unfortunately was unable to attend. He missed hearing a poem honoring the dead written especially for the occasion.
An inscription in the entry monument says that the cemetery was founded in 1877 by the Butte [Freemasons] Lodge No. 22, A.F. & A.M., and Fidelity Lodge No. 220.127.116.11.F. William Thompson advanced to grand high priest of the high chapter, Royal Arc Masons, Montana Commandery No. 3. He rose to the “32nd degree” in ancient accepted Scottish Rites.
Little is known about the two children buried beside their parents. Arthur H., judging by his gravestone, died in his second year, one of several children lost early by Annie Marie Boyce. Flora May, the last born of the Thompson children, was born in 1891 and died on October 27, 1929 in Silver Bow, Montana, the county that encompasses Butte. She was about 38 years old.