PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Visiting a cemetery isn’t typically on one’s list of fun things to do, but a few of them around Oregon present a learning opportunity for people who want to educate themselves on the state’s place in history.
Read about the gravesites, monuments and memorials at four local cemeteries that remind modern-day Oregonians of those who once roamed the state.
Lone Fir Cemetery in Southeast Portland
At least 345 soldiers from the Civil, Spanish-American, Mexican and Indian Wars are buried at the Lone Fir Cemetery. The Lone Fir Cemetery Association commissioned the Soldiers Monument, which was then paid for by 500 Portlanders who donated $3,500 total toward the monument.
The Soldiers Monument was uncovered in 1903, according to Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery. By the 1980s, the soldier featured on the monument had toppled over. In 2003, Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery raised money to have it re-bronzed and reset. It toppled again in November 2020, when KOIN 6 reported that the memorial was vandalized. cemetery visitors reportedly vandalized the Mexican-American war memorial.
The Soldiers Monument can be found in the center of Lone Fir Cemetery.
Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City
Mountain View Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries on the west coast. Since its first burial in 1847, it has expanded to 54 acres. It includes a few “cemetery
celebrities”, such as Clarence Chesterfield Howerton.
Howerton was born in Oregon on Feb. 9, 1913. CNN reports that he grew to a mere 26 inches tall. According to Mountain View Cemetery, he was “famous for his small stature” and primarily known as Major Mite. He spent many years traveling with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Howerton also landed a role in the 1939 film Wizard of Oz.
He is believed to have died in 1975, at the age of 62. He is now buried in section I, block 1, lot 20, grave C of Mountain View Cemetery.
Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Southwest Portland
Born as John Edward Kelly in Ireland in 1862, Jack Dempsey spent much of his boxing career in the Portland area. According to Portland Monthly, he came to the Rose City in 1885 to fight volunteer firefighter Dave Campbell.
This Dempsey went by “the Nonpareil”, or without equal, but he isn’t to be confused with the later heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey who went by the same name. The “Nonpareil” inspired many other boxers, and ended his career with a 50-3 record.
Dempsey died at the age of 32 due to complications from tuberculosis. He was buried at the Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery.
Jordan Valley Hamlet Cemetery in Jordan Valley
Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was born at Fort Mandan on Feb. 11, 1805. As the son of Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, he did plenty of exploring of his own in his lifetime.
According to the National Park Service, Charbonneau started his move from California to Montana for the gold strike in 1966. He fell ill with what was believed to be pneumonia while crossing Oregon’s cool Owyhee River. Charbonneau eventually died at Inskip Station on May 16.
His gravesite is now a Registered National Historic Place, and can be found “at the mouth of Cow Creek west of the present day town of Jordan Valley, near the Oregon/Idaho border.”