The Grand Army of the Republic was created on land that was ceded to Native American Tribes from the United States Government. The land was originally part of a 200 acre allotment given to Peter Labedie, a Native American of the Confederated Peoria, Laskaskia, Wea, and Pliankashaw Tribes.
It began, not as a carefully groomed park-like memorial enhanced by trees and roads, special plantings and statues, but as wild prairie land. At first, only the prairie wind with its ageless secrets swept it. Wild flowers starred the tall grasses that covered it, and deer and buffalo roamed over it. It was not a cemetery, but Indian land.
In 1899, The Grand Army of the Republic purchased 36 acres of this land for the purpose of providing burial lots for its members. The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was a fraternal organization composed of veteran Union Soldiers from the Civil War. Today the G.A.R. Cemetery has expanded to over 18,000 burial sites on 86 acres.
It is generally believed that a son of Peter and Amelia Labedie was the first burial in the cemetery, but memories of those early days have passed to the same veil of obscurity as many who now rest in unmarked graves. In the thirties, a fire destroyed many of the early records of burials. However, the oldest marked grave is that of Atha Josephine Cardin, born in 1872 and died in 1892.
Military burials include Union and Confederate veterans from the Civil War and veterans of World Wars I and II.
During WWII, fifteen British flyers with the Royal Air Force died at the Spartan School in Miami training for duty. They are interred I the G.A.R. cemetery. These soldiers are honored annually for their services.
- L.A.C. Fred Tufft, 31
- L.A.C. Peter McCallum, 19
- L.A.C. Alan Brown, 19
- L.A.C. Harold A. Burman, 21
- L.A.C. Herbert H. Hacksley, 23
- L.A.C. Donald A. Harfield, 17
- L.A.C. Ralph K. Price, 19
- L.A.C. William C. Spiers, 20
- L.A.C. Walter E. Elliot, 29.
- A.C. 2 Kenneth Raisbeck, 26
- L.A.C. James Boyd,20
- A.C. 2 William G.M. Mann, 30
- A.C. 2 Cecil Riddell, 20
- A.C. 2 Frederick D. Beverley, 20
- A.C. 2 Dennis M. Mitchell, 20
Other notable burials include:
Mrs. Frances Hill (1892-1982) at her request, is buried alongside the graves of the fifteen Royal Air Force pilots who died in accidents in Miami while training at the Spartan School from 1941 to 1945. She attended these graves for approximately 40 years. She also kept in touch with many of the family members of the cadets. She was awarded "The King's Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom" by King George VI.
John Beaver (1855-1928) was the Second Chief of the Quapaw Indians. He was one of the wealthiest members of the tribe from profits made in the lead and zinc mines. His monument is a bronze sculpture of him which was cast in Italy. It is one of the most distinctive markers in the cemetery and people often place pennies in the folded hands of the statue for good luck.
"Booger Red," also known asSamuel Thomas Privett, Jr., (1864-1924) was a famous bronc rider, wild west show owner, and Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee. He began breaking horses at the age of twelve when he became known as "That Redheaded Bronc Rider." He was also known for never being thrown while riding some 25,000 to 40,000 broncs. He was buried in 1924 in an unmarked grave, but due to recent interest in his story, a marker was placed on his grave in the spring of 2011.
WM Calvin (Cal) Campbell (1873-1934) was a Commerce, Oklahoma constable that was killed in a gun battle with Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker on April 6th, 1934.
Elvin (Mutt) Mantle (1912-1952) and Lovell Mantle (1904-1995) were the parents of Baseball Hall of Famer and New York Yankee Outfielder Mickey Mantle.
George L. Coleman Sr. (1859-1945) was one of Miami's most prominent businessmen. He and his brother Alfred were partners in a water well drilling firm and went on to discover lead and zinc ore deposits. Mr. Coleman loved the theatre and in 1929 he built his legacy- The Coleman Theatre. Today, it has been completely restored to its original splendor and elegance. In 2012, the Coleman was designated as Oklahoma's Premier Vaudeville Theatre. Visitors from more than 35 countries traveled to Oklahoma last year to visit this magnificent theatre.
Nellie Dobson (1885-1968) was one of the pioneer residents of Miami. She was only seven years old in 1892 when her family moved to Oklahoma from Kentucky, with Nellie astride her pony. Nellie wanted to preserve the history of the area and was a charter member of the Ottawa County Historical Society. Before her death in 1968, she sat up a trust to build a museum. The Dobson Museum, located at 110 A Street SW, is home to more than 5,000 historical items. There is also an extensive collection of old documents, newspapers, and photographs.