The Willard Pioneer Cemetery’s first burial was August 1854 with the death of five-day-old John Memorial, Jr., son of John Memorial (Memory) and Samantha Wells McCrary. This site, selected by Willard’s first settlers, is located one block east of the first group of log houses erected in Willard in 1851.
The McCrary baby was buried in the southwest corner of the the cemetery. Subsequent burials were north of this gravesite in order of the date of death. Loved ones were not buried by their families unless death immediately followed the last burial. For this reason, a new cemetery was chosen in 1869 on the foothills north of the original location. One hundred and fifty settlers were buried in this cemetery, and one hundred ten burials have been documented. Names of the other forty are being sought. That last known burial in this cemetery was in 1905.
The Willard flood of 1923 devastated this hallowed site. Floodwaters, cutting a large trench, caused markers and some remains of the graves to be washed into the field west of town. Located remains were brought back to the cemetery and buried in a common grave. Headstones and markers were replaced as accurately as possible.