Pioneer cemeteries and photography combine, for me, into a series of unanswered questions each time I stroll through the almost always empty cemeteries.
Today, I visited three such cemeteries in the Portland area. All the designated ‘pioneer’ cemeteries were primarily recipients of folks born in the early to mid 1800’s and then their children born around WWI.
I was struck by a few observations for these three cemeteries: they were now surrounded by industrial, commercial enterprises…the designation of ‘pioneer’ seemed lost amid the flow of semi-trucks, transients, strewn beer cans…the trees were old, gnarly and offered privacy to the noisy traffic within a few feet of the Oregon Pioneer headstones.
These old pioneer grave markers are adjacent to this billious yellow tavern and a seedy motel behind it.
As I have noted before, these are not old graves compared to other parts of the country or world. But, for the Oregon Territory these were the early settlers and most names today were unknown to me excepting a very few: Wilkes, Zimmerman, Reynolds. A good outing with a few finds that were poignant or provided images of tragedy.
True pioneers that settled east of Portland (I photographed their home back around Thanksgiving and posted on SwittersB) buried next to a different motel and busy intersection off I-205. Alloy rims and pioneers.
Ann Powell, a Pioneer woman, with view of KMart (Big K) and buses that meet in the parking lot to transport seniors to coastal casinos.
The last remaining child, Ella the middle child of twelve, appears to be the last one of the original pioneer’s offspring.
These cemetery outings are interesting indeed. I found the usual minimally marked graves (a number) and the unnamed baby’s grave. All these combine, for some reason, to make me marvel and wonder and take the focus away from the cold East wind blowing across these small parcels of history.
The County, in the old days, buried the unidentified in these now Pioneer cemeteries with a number on the marker. It is nice the number stays uncovered and visible. I wonder beyond a ledger with a plot of where each stone is would lead to any details of where did ’45’ die. I doubt there is little more left of that blink of time on earth.
I visited the Powell Grove Cem. (est. 1848), Columbia Pioneer Cem. (est. 1877) and the Columbia Cem. (est. 1857)
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”