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Why a school, road and cemetery are named after one of Idaho's first major families

Before the turn of the 20th century, one Idaho clan turned part of their land into a cemetery.

EAGLE, Idaho — Anyone who has traveled down Eagle and Cloverdale roads, or Chinden Boulevard, has likely gone by Joplin Elementary School, Joplin Cemetery or Joplin Road. But how did one name become so well-known? Well, the Joplin clan was a well-known family in the Gem State, even before it even became a state.

Since 1980, the Joplin Cementary has been taken care of by Ann Grant, whose father, Donald, was the previous caretaker. While she may be the second generation of sextons who have worked there, she doesn't know the exact number of people who rest there.

"There's probably over a thousand people in here," she said, "I'm guessing."

Grant said the Joplin clan moved to Idaho before it became a state.

"They were among the originals," she said, "and it wasn't just one family of Joplins, it was brothers and sisters, a whole clan that was coming."

The family farmed under the bluff where the cemetery now sits but eventually needed space for peaceful rest.

Grant said Isham Joplin, the patriarch of the family, sold the parcel of land in 1895, with some fine print in the deal.

"It's in the books, it's in the deed," she said. "No lot shall ever be over $5."

A clause in the deed that's still in place.

"That's why we had to cut off sales," Grant said.

Isham Joplin also banned irrigation on the property, saying he'd had enough water in his face from the Boise River that he didn't want anymore after he died. However, in the 1960s, the cemetery finally got green grass after sprinklers were installed and considered it rain to abide by Isham's request.

While Joplin Cemetery may not be the most memorable burial ground in the Treasure Valley, Grant wants it to be remembered.

"We don't have any of the big hoity-toities here, you know we just got ordinary people," she said. "The memory of the pioneer families who came to this valley in 1880. It's just here, it's just been here forever, dedicated to the spirit of the old-timers and pioneers, at least that's how it feels to me."

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