Posts Tagged ‘stories

13
Mar
16

Life’s struggles…

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.

 

Marcus Robertson Medal of Honor Winner SwittersB

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

Fannie Robertson 1911-SwittersB

“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

Robertson girls-died-1915-SwittersB

“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.”

Earl Roberston 1918 died WWI SwittersB

31
Jul
14

Recollecting the Past………….

It was a warm, slightly humid night this evening. We sat on the deck gazing East toward the mountains. The clouds were pushing upward and then spilling over into majestic shapes. In the distance, we heard thunder. My father-in-law shook his head, as he often does. It is a prelude to the common themes we share these days. The memory, in the present, falters now. The past memories, recited often, are clearer and bring to mind his struggles as a young man, husband, father, farmer in the Dakotas.

sky-clouds-Summer-photography-SwittersB

He hasn’t farmed in over forty some years. The weather, destroyed crops, fading health and the clarity of the hard future ahead caused him to move the family and contents West to Oregon. Although he never farmed again, his upbringing and young adult life leave little doubt he somehow is still a farmer. He can describe in vivid detail the life, the hardships, the failures from fifty years ago. He can’t recall having given this same story ten minutes ago. No matter. It’s the way of things. You roll with it, staring up at the clouds, thankful the mosquitos are at bay tonight. 

sky-pink clouds-Summer-photography-SwittersB

He looks tired tonight, disheveled. His pants have that faint coating of sawdust from the shop. The belts askew, the shirt partially untucked. His hands, the gnarled, strong hands have never stopped working. He points a crooked finger toward the clearing sky and remarks on the color of the clouds and the threat of something passing. He asks if he has ever told me about why he left the farm? No, I say, what happened? 

I am melancholy in listening. This is a fading life style, a tired man. I want to hear it over and over, while I can. My heart wrenches, I catch my breath and refocus on his words. Every single word.

25
Sep
12

Cemetery Spell & Story Telling

Cemeteries, pioneer cemeteries, hold a spell over me. Portland has quite a few designated as ‘pioneer’. Of course, they are not as old as eastern U.S. cemeteries. But, there a draw to them that intrigues and begs so many questions as you walk about.

I have decided to spend more time stopping along the way, whether on the open road or around town, and slowing down enough to study the markers and capture some with the camera that work their way into my imagination.

 For years, I have driven by this old cemetery perched atop a hillside in Central Oregon. Always in a hurry to fish, the hillside begged but I drove by. This day, I pulled off and drove up into cemetery.

What a captivating setting. Rugged and almost forgotten. I walked about the tall, dry grass. There were hundreds of stories here and all the attendant questions.




Below @ “The Past” you can search back to 2008 month by month

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