RVGS Cemetery Committee


RVGS Cemetery Committee


Lee and Dirk                                                                                     Chuck, Carl & Roger


Written by Carl Shauger


On Friday, June 1, 2012, I had the privilege to tag along with Chuck Eccleston and Roger Roberts to a cemetery site in the Lake Creek area of Jackson County with their purpose of surveying a cemetery that was first laid out in the early 1900’s on private property.  For purpose of this story we will call it the Lake Creek cemetery.

I call this a privilege because I was rather impressed with what both Roger and Chuck have been doing for the past few years in discovering lost cemeteries in Jackson County through word of mouth, research and follow up visits.  Assuredly, they have had many other volunteers to help, including members of the  cemetery committee, but from my prospective they have been the driving force, with Chuck coordinating the work and Roger handling the land research records and using his surveying skills.

Briefly, before I begin the story of our day at the Lake Creek cemetery there had been some preliminary coordination for the work.  Chuck was asked to help with some of the goals for the cemetery that the Lake Creek Historical Society had first brought to their Board to restore the cemetery from its neglected care over the past years.  The Society, under the direction of Marilyn Maloney, set the cleanup of the cemetery as a special project for the year.  After some setbacks by the Society’s requesting funds for the work, it was decided to ask for volunteers to perform the fieldwork.   A Mr. Gregg Grissom came forward and with a team of eight men and one woman came to do the removal of brush, weeds and…ug! poison oak on May 12, 2012.

With that fieldwork completed, Chuck, Roger and I arrived at 9:00 am on Friday, June 1, 2012.  Upon our arrival we found Dirk and Lee Siedlecki, volunteers from the Jacksonville cemetery, already diligently at work utilizing their skills in resetting two headstones.  Chuck, of course, had coordinated an agreement with them to lend their volunteer services.

After our hellos, Roger toured the wooded grounds (about 1/2 acre) and selected a site to place his surveying equipment.  It is rather unbelievable that Roger’s next step was to begin scanning the grounds for possible sites that had no headstones.  It will not be discussed here how he did that, but suffice it to say when the earth’s profile from years past has been disturbed there definitely is a discontinuity that can be detected.  Simply put, when you dig a six-foot deep trench and then have it refilled it can be detected from the original land formation by using instruments.  While Roger is doing that, Chuck is marking the found burial sites with small colored flags fastened on wire.  I stand by and marvel at this procedure.  Apparently Chuck and Roger have preformed this ritual throughout Jackson County at many cemeteries.

Word of mouth was passed around and we had visitors.  Marilyn came by to admire the work being done and took pictures.  Frank Brown a neighbor chatted with us all and spoke of his awareness of the cemetery.  He mentioned that he had helped dig a grave-site for Charles Edler in 1962.  Joining us that day were also acquaintances Ralph and Liesa Wyant with Tracy ‘Nussbaum’ Suzuki who grew up on the property.  She was visiting from Japan.  The Wyants live nearby and have communicated with me about Ralph’s family descendants that are buried at both the Dunkard and Sterns cemeteries near Talent, Oregon.

Around noon the Siedlecki brothers, with their work completed, left for the day.  Soon after we three decided to take a break and set north to the Lake Creek center of town some five miles away for lunch.  I mention this lunch break as it added to my day’s learning experience.  On our way Roger spoke of his surveying experiences at the large Cascade Ranch off to our right. Some years ago he was to find lost survey points in and around the ranch property and used aerial photography to reduce some of the footwork.

We arrived at the Lake Creek General Store & Ice Cream Parlor at 1:00 pm and found the brothers there, also having lunch.  We visited them and the group shared more information on the work going on around Jackson County.  The tiny spot on the map of Lake Creek could be missed if there wasn’t a reduced speed of 25 mph.  Marilyn volunteers at the Museum in the Pioneer Hall with scheduled days and times for visitors.  Plan a trip to Lake Creek and drop by to view the work at the Museum and say hello to Marilyn or other volunteers that might be there.

We returned to the work site at the cemetery and Roger began his survey of the cemetery boundaries.  With Chuck acting as the target for Roger’s shots through the telescope and me writing down his 360-degree readings he plotted the survey points.  Other reference points were located using trees and a building.  The experience of watching all this calculated surveying brought a new awareness of how surveying techniques work.  Roger plans in the near future to produce a computer-generated outline shown on a map of his findings to share with those interested in the cemeteries history.

Chuck and Roger have in the last few years gone out and conducted the same set of  activities throughout Jackson county.  Chuck had summarized in July 2011, for the Cemetery Committees information, their activities by listing some 13 cemetery sites where they have conducted their work.