I enjoy discovering the hidden stories of cemeteries, particularly what we would call ‘Pioneer’ cemeteries. Pioneers, in our neck of the woods, were folks that departed the smothering confines of Eastern United States and moved West to explore, to pioneer, the open spaces. Most of this took place in the mid 1800’s in the Pacific Northwest (United States).
Not too long ago, I posted about Marcus W. Robertson. Buried in a small, rural cemetery in Central Oregon in Pine Grove. I noted his apparent heroic exploits to become a Medal of Honor recipient and then I noted his nephew Earl who died in 1918 in WWI.
While at the cemetery, I had snapped a few more headstones of the Robertson’s family. I decided to see what I could find out about them given the burst of death and apparent grief in the early 1900’s. What I noticed was Marcus’s brother, Robert Earl, had a seemingly sad stretch of life in this rural area. First he lost his wife, Fannie Juliet in 1911 to illness, then in 1915 his two daughters are burned up in the home, which was totally destroyed and then he loses his son, the perviously mentioned Earl in WWI, who as I recalled he died of a dental infection in France, after being ‘severely wounded’.
As one reviews theses events, the mind goes to the magnitude of the events and how they would impact our own mind, heart and health. Normally, when listening to such events on the news, the sound bite hits us, but is immediately gone and purposely abandoned to lessen the impact. But, for me, cemetery history lingers in my mind. In a good way, I think. It makes one look outward beyond the tip of our nose to see the humanity and struggles about us…in the past and before us now. A good thing.
Below are the grave markers and a few local newspaper snippets…
‘Mrs. Fanny Robertson died last Friday night, August 25, after a lingering illness,…’ Hood River Glacier Journal, August 31, 1911
“Children Burned to Death in Hood River. While their father; worked In the barn nearby, Ruth and Violet Robertson, daughters of Robert Robertson, were burned to death by fire which destroyed their home, near this city. Ruth was 7 years old and Violet was 14 years. Indications are that the children never left their bed, but were smothered and burned without a chance to save themselves. Their charred bodies were found within the twisted and blackened frame of their Iron bed.” Crook County journal. (Prineville, Or.) May 13, 1915
“THE SUNDAY OREGONIAN, PORTLAND, SEPTEMBER 15, 1918. 7 LATEST OFFICIAL CASUALTY LIST, KILLED IN ACTION. Privates: Earl Malcolm I Robert E Robertson. Hood River. Or. WOUNDED SEVERELY.”