Jacksonville Cemetery is one of the historic town’s most interesting site, in my opinion. Its earliest arrivals came at about the same time as the Gold Rush, in the 1850’s. There are gravesites dating from the late 1800’s Gold Rush period when settlers were still being killed by Indians – and vice versa.
February 2005 & December 2015 visits: The cemetery is located in a beautiful setting high on a hill overlooking historic Jacksonville. It was so quiet and still that at first it seemed to me that there was absolutely no other living soul there.
So when I caught sight of this woman in old-timey clothes overlooking the hill, I caught my breath because at first I thought she was a ghost! I actually walked toward her and when she turned around and greeted me, I could finally tell she was as real as I was. She was dressed in period clothing for an historical event taking place at the library. We laughed when I told her that she spooked me at first! 🙂
Excerpts from the Welcome sign:
These 32 acres contain some of the oldest pioneer gravesites in southern Oregon. The original acreage was platted in 1859. The cemetery is divided into seven sections, six of which represent religious or fraternal organizations: Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Catholic, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Independent (German) and Improved Orders of Red Men, and Jewish. The seventh and largest section is the City of Jacksonville’s portion, which includes a Potter’s Field.
The gravestones chronicle the Indian wars, epidemics, and untimely deaths. Some have elaborate memorials in keeping with Victorian traditions, while others are simple wooden crosses or markers. Epitaphs range from touching to humorous to religious.
The setting is as peaceful as a cemetery should be, shaded by massive Madrone trees.
Huge old gnarly trees, moss covered headstones and markers all make for appropriately restful surroundings.
The way the enclosures have sunk in, the colors, textures and designs that the moss and algae made lent all kinds of other interesting games of “that looks like…”
Some of the memorials were more elaborately done…
…and some were as simple as a tree trunk. I thought it was interesting that Madison’s marker did not list his actual birth date, but simply his age in years, months and even days on the day that he died in 1896.
The saddest ones tell of the babies taken from the earth before they could celebrate one year of life. “Hundreds of infants and young children buried throughout the cemetery whose life was cut short during birth, accidents, illness and epidemics.” (From Who’s Buried in Jacksonville)
“Our Darlings” – such a heartbreaking thing to think about: Two children buried here died within days of each other in 1890, one aged 5 and one aged 6. I can’t help but wonder what happened to them, but imagine it had something to do with an epidemic that was mentioned in the welcome sign.
Died May 21, 1882
71 years, 1 mo., 13 days
Died December 12, 1887
64 years, 8 mos.
The large headstone is for Katie B, Wife, died at age 26 years, 2 months and 27 days. I wonder if Baby Clara beside her is her daughter. I could only imagine the sorrow of the husband and father who had to put these two in the ground.
“Sacred to the memory of William Boddy & Sons – Murdered by the Modoc Indians November 29, 1872.” Lots of hints of interesting history buried here along with the early settlers.
A lot of the older headstones were broken and the way they were placed on the ground made them look even spookier than usual.
These full length models were more spooky to me than the rest for some reason.
My woo-woo experience here: As I walked around reading about the people who had died here, the only sounds I heard were gentle ones like these fluttering birds and scampering squirrels. However, when I was finally getting ready to leave, I heard a stronger sound than I’d heard before and looked in its direction. There was a big jackrabbit standing tall and looking right at me. He loped off quickly when I went for my camera, and at that moment I had the thought, “If I had one wish it would be that animals would know not to be afraid of me and that I would never hurt them. They would want to be around me as much as I want to be around them.”
I truly believe animals are great examples and teachers and are here partly to show us things we might miss in our own lives, but can see more plainly in nature. So, as you could see from my “Message from Hawk” page, I don’t take sightings of animals lightly and the last thing I do before I go to bed each night is read in my Animal Medicine book about all the animals I saw that day. It always blows my mind!
So last night, in looking up what messages Rabbit holds, I came across this neat story:
“A long time ago – no one really knows how long ago it was – Rabbit was a brave and fearless warrior. Rabbit was befriended by Eye Walker, a witch. The witch and Rabbit spent much time together talking and sharing – the two were very close. One day as they were walking, Rabbit said, “I’m thirsty.” Eye Walker picked up a leaf, blew on it, and then handed Rabbit a gourd of water. Rabbit drank but didn’t say anything. When Rabbit said, “I’m hungry,” Eye Walker picked up a stone and changed it to a turnip. Rabbit ate with relish but still didn’t say anything. When Rabbit tripped and fell, she used a magic salve to heal his great pain and still he said nothing.
Several days later as Eye Walker was searching for her friend, he was nowhere to be found. When she finally met up with him by accident, she asked why he was avoiding her. He answered “Because I am afraid of you and your magic. Leave me alone!”
She responded, “I see – I have used my magical powers on your behalf and now you turn on me and refuse my friendship.” Rabbit did not even see the tears in Eye Walker’s eyes. He said he hoped never to see her again.
Even though Eye Walker could have killed Rabbit right then, she refrained, but cursed him with these words, “From now on, you will call your fears and your fears will come to you.” Now Rabbit is the Fear Caller. He goes out and shouts, “Eagle, I am so afraid of you.” If Eagle doesn’t hear him, he calls louder, “Eagle, stay away from me!” Eagle, now hearing Rabbit, comes and eats him.
As this story shows, Rabbit medicine people are so afraid of tragedy, illness, disaster and “being taken” that they call those very fears to them to teach them lessons. The keynote here is: what you resist will persist – what you fear most is what you will become.” Here is the lesson: If you pulled Rabbit, stop talking about horrible things happening and get rid of “what if” in your vocabulary. This may signal a time of worry about the future or of trying to exercise control over that which is not yet in form – the future. Stop now!”
I could certainly see this rabbit tendency in myself, as I know that sometimes I give so much attention and energy to what I’m afraid of that it has no other choice but to find me. Spending the day in a graveyard was a good way to ponder what is important in my life and how I want to choose to live it while I’m here.
When I got home that night, I saw the following motto posted and thought “How appropriate to my day!”
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather sliding in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!'” – unknown
I could tell that was a message the universe really wanted me to pay attention to because the next email I received from Don, my best friend and greatest inspiration, had that at the bottom under his signature. OK, Don, you always gave me the best advice and you never, ever let me down – so all I’ve got to say is: “Let the ride continue!”
Links with more Jacksonville Cemetery info:
As I’ve been recently updating this page and looking at links for more info on this historic cemetery to share here, I saw some things that make me really want to go back and see all the things I missed that I didn’t know I missed at the time. It really is interesting to read the stories of the people who passed so long ago when times were so different than they are now. So I suggest taking a look at some of these resources about what you’ll find here:
Who’s Buried in Jacksonville (Friends) – There are many wonderful and interesting stories of those buried in the cemetery. Pioneers, men, women and children, who made their way west to Oregon leaving behind their homes, most belongings, family and friends. It was a very difficult journey and not an easy life after arriving at their destination.
Find a Grave – list of all 5,465 interments, including locally famous Peter Britt.
Fun Walks Through Historic Cemeteries – While no one needs an excuse to take a drive in the beautiful countryside, a trio of local historic cemeteries offers more than an excuse; they offer a destination.