To understand and appreciate the present, we sometimes need to explore the past. From the first settlement established at Empire City in 1853 to the bustling heart of a water-dependent community (then called Marshfield), Coos County is rich with fascinating people and history. With spring weather approaching, our historic cemeteries are excellent destinations to discover the stories of the past.
Coos County has 99 documented cemeteries, but not all are open to the public. Most of them are on private property or private family cemeteries, while others don’t visually exist with headstones anymore, but the graves are still there.
In this post, guest writer Steven Michael of Steven Michael Photography shares some of his examples of the many interesting, scenic and historic cemeteries in Coos County we recommend exploring.
The Lakeside Pioneer cemetery is one that has the most extraordinary character of any cemetery in Coos County. It is not uncommon to find the living not only bringing memorial flowers to their loved one, but also a plethora of gifts and trinkets ranging from hot wheel cars, rosary beads and stuffed animals, to an alarm clock, magazines, cigarettes and a camping lantern. During specific holidays like Christmas, Halloween and Easter, several graves are decorated accordingly.
A great number of military service men and women are buried in the Lakeside Pioneer Cemetery. American flags can be found on the respected graves at all times. Eventually, the weathered flags are replaced with new ones. When the replacements take place is a mystery.
Unlike the traditional cemeteries where the headstones are seen in rows, to visit each individual grave, you must journey and weave through sandy paths surrounded by a mix of the coastal brush. The experience alone is worth checking out this cemetery that has a lot of character.
The Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery has one of the best examples of preserved historic architecture with a variety of headstones ranging from marble, granite, and even cast iron. The artistic delicate detail found in the cemetery is impressive. This cemetery also has the largest collection of curbing, a process used to surround the grave or plot. Such curbing helped get the cemetery recognized and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, along with the historic importance as the resting place of many of the people who were responsible for the making of Coos Bay, North Bend, and Coos County.
The Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery has approximately 2000 people resting there, and 99 of them are veterans whose service range from the Indian Wars of the 1850’s to World War II. Among them, there are a number of Civil War veterans, 56 Union and 4 Confederate buried in the Cemetery.
In the north east corner of the cemetery, you’ll discover three unique headstones worth checking out. First, is the headstone belonging to a Miss Ethel Jane Galbraith. She died in August of 1906 when she drowned…while bathing…in the Coos River near Allegany. Now why the words, “while bathing” were permanently chiseled into a large beautiful red slab of polished marble is a mystery, but the way she drowned was important enough for her loved ones let everyone know just exactly how she drowned.
From the many children who died from disease to the lost men of the historic 1910 ship wreck of the Czarina…….to the death of Chief Daloose Jackson in 1907, a native Coos Indian who lived peacefully among the white people…there is so much local history revealed in the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery.
To learn more about these and other historical cemeteries in Coos County, visit Coos County Cemeteries.
All photos taken by Steven Michael Photography.
About the Author:
Steven Michael is an award winning photographer, a published author, and illustrator who has lived on the Oregon Coast for most of his life. He has ventured and explored the entire length of the coast, photographing what he discovers. He is known as the Ambassador of the Southern Oregon Coast. If you would like to follow Steven Michael on one of his adventures or learn more about Steven Michael Photography, connect with him on his Facebook Page or visit his site, Pacific Northwest Adventures.