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Volume 8, Issue 8


August 2010

History in the News
The Union Cemetery of Cedar Mill
by Nancy Olson, co-author, Cedar Mill History

Traveling NW 143rd you may notice a peaceful plot of land between Cornell and Burton on the west side of the busy road. It is one of a few remaining historic sites of the Cedar Mill community, the Union Cemetery of Cedar Mill. You might wonder what that is all about.

union cemetery in 1972
The tiny trees in this 1972 photo now tower over 143rd. Ellsworth Young, a descendant of JQA Young, designed the brick entrance to the cemetery and a cyclone fence was erected to protect the historic property. Photo courtesy of Hazel Young

Many of the first residents of Cedar Mill found their final resting place in Union Cemetery. The origin and early history of the cemetery located on NW 143rd is surrounded by doubt, although burials probably began between 1856 and 1858. It is uncertain who was the first pioneer laid to rest there, and several graves may have existed before the land was formally designated as a cemetery.

People gave the name “Union” to many things in that era, referring to the US federal government. During the Civil War, Oregon was a Union state. West Union Road was probably similarly named

While association records indicate the first burial was of 13-year-old Ruth Barton in 1857, her brother Joshua was also buried in the Barton family plot. Joshua, age 16 had died the previous year of a gunshot wound, however his remains may have been transferred from an earlier grave.

Or it may be that Archibald Walker, age 23, was actually the first to be interred at Union Cemetery in 1858. In that year, donation land claim owners Francis and Arvilla McGuire donated 2.67 acres to a five-man committee for “…use of common schools, orthodox churches and burying ground for the consideration of one dollar…” In 1860, John and Elizabeth Campbell donated another 1.2 acres “…for the use and benefit of the public for a School House, Burying Ground and Meeting House to be free for all Orthodox religious societies to worship in…”

George Kieni's stone is still the largest one in the cemetery!

In 1878, the acreage was legally transferred to the directors of School District # 6. Union School was one of the first public schools in Washington County and was located next to the cemetery. Again, it’s unclear exactly when it was built, but it was prior to 1863.

The directors managed the cemetery until 1903 when the burial ground was incorporated under State law and named Union Schoolhouse Cemetery. Gravesites were sold for $1.00.

Over the years, the cemetery grew to include five acres. In 1949, Union Schoolhouse Cemetery officially adopted its present name, Union Cemetery of Cedar Mill. Maintenance of the grounds has been provided by association members and the Cedar Mill Garden Club on a volunteer basis. In 1972, Ellsworth Young designed a brick entrance to the cemetery and a cyclone fence has been erected to protect the historic property. Burials may still be arranged at the cemetery. Call 503-499-1144 for information.

Many of the folks who figure in Cedar Mill’s history found their final resting place here, including JQA Young and his family. Take a few minutes some day from your busy schedule and take a stroll through the past of your community.




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Portland, Oregon 97291