Cherryville cemetery Dedication



This past Sunday was incredible. If you have followed this blog for the past 4 years (HOW HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG) you might know about the Cherryville Cemetery saga. If are bored you can read up about it here.  Or if you want the quick gist of the story, read this blog post. 

Sunday was a dedication ceremony for the cemetery. The monument above was placed by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (Beaverton Chapter). The cemetery is now an historical landmark. Two  years ago it was being swallowed up by the Oregon forest. Now it is protected by the State of Oregon.

The ceremony was wonderful. The highlight for me was that someone from the military (not sure which branch) played Taps from afar. I can’t even describe how surreal and beautiful this moment was. I imagined my uncle Will smiling down on the scene.

I walked away from the ceremony thanking the Universe. I am amazed at how things just come together.

The bond I had with my Uncle Will.


In July of 2009 I applied for a job at a library in a small town 30 miles east of Portland that I had driven through once. I came here to interview and was delighted with the place and with the people who interviewed me. Lucky for me, the feeling was mutual. When I told my mom that I was moving to Sandy, Oregon she came back with an interesting reply, “Really? Sandy? Your uncle lived there in the 1960s. Did you know that?” No. I did not know that.

The story is that my uncle lived in the area for awhile and loved it here. Then a couple of tragedies struck the family which caused them to move down into Portland. One of those tragedies was the death of his 2 year old daughter. She drowned in a creek near the home. There was a cemetery next to his house where he buried her. I remember my uncle talking about this place a few years ago, not knowing exactly where it was. He described it as “beautiful” and mentioned that he wanted to be buried there. And also said anyone in his family could be buried there too.

When I moved here he asked me to go to this cemetery from time to time to check up on the graves of my cousins (another of his sons was buried there in 2002). I was totally happy to oblige. However, I couldn’t find it. I can’t tell you how many times I drove up and down Cherryville Road looking for this cemetery with no luck whatsoever. My uncle even drew me a map at one point and it still didn’t help. I asked people in the community about it and nobody could help me. Nobody knew it even existed! Or if they knew it existed, it existed as a kind of urban legend. This cemetery  completely confounded me.

He came to visit a year ago last July and finally took me there himself. Visiting this place will be forever marked in my history as one of the most surreal of my existence. We drove into what seemed like the dirt road of somebody’s house. We ended up at a very dense grove of trees. Very dense. it was impossible to see what was on the other side of them. Uncle Will opened the trunk of his car, grabbed some garden loppers and weed killer, handed me a pair of loppers, and walked toward a small opening of this grove. He seemed to know exactly where to go and cut a hole into the opening. I reluctantly followed him into this strange place. It was absolutely incredible. Above me was as canopy of thick Douglas Firs. Around me was moss, ivy and fern, growing all over everything. The tops of turn-of-the-century headstones  peeked out of the ivy. We bush-whacked our way to the back of the cemetery where we found the grave-markers of my cousins. They were the only graves in the cemetery that could be seen (aside from the taller headstones) because he’d been coming there every year to take care of them.

It was a beautiful summer day in July. The sun was starting to set and the light filtered through the trees and lighted the graves perfectly as we stood around the graves and said a Hail Mary. My uncle was very happy. He seemed to be at peace there. I could totally see why. I thought to myself, “This place is magical and beautiful.”

Now I knew where the cemetery was but how was I going to take care of it? It was overwhelmingly overgrown. There was no way I could compete with the Oregon Forest.

Lo and Behold, an effort was made to clean it up! Somebody who also has family buried there headed this up a year ago and since then amazing work as been done. In many ways it has brought our community together too. Lots of people who live here have been in on this project and have enjoyed uncovering history in their own backyard. I think about this effort and it blows my mind. This was a cemetery that was slowly being swallowed by the forest but it has been saved.

Yesterday I was driving to the library to run an errand. As I sat at the stoplight I had this urgent thought that I really needed to call my cousin to let him know that I am here to help him in any way. Then I burst into tears while I was sitting there. I felt the deepest sensation of grief deep down to the core of my heart. I had this profound feeling that he was gone. That he had departed from this earth. I waited for my mom to call me and tell me the news. Finally, I had to text her to check in. She told  me that he passed at 12:30. Around the same time I was thinking about him at the stoplight.

We shared this little bond, this mystery of the cemetery. I am so glad that he was able to see that the restoration effort began there. I know that made him happy.

Here is the last photo I took of him. It was taken the day he took me to the cemetery and while we were standing at his kid’s graves. It’s not a very good photo (he looks kind of crazy) but it does show how happy and excited he was to be there.

Rest in peace Uncle Will. See you on the other side.

Uncle Will

Cherryville Cemetary


A month ago this newspaper clipping mysteriously appeared attached to my locker at work. From this article I learned that the Sandy Historical Museum has taken over the care of the Cherryville Cemetery and they hosted a cleanup day last Saturday (Read this post and this post for background on this family mystery/saga. Preita has some nice photos of it on her blog, too. ). I was so incredibly stoked! Unfortunately I had to work that day. I was seriously sad about that because I feel like I have some kind of family duty to the care of that place (having cousins buried there). I think I will see how I can get involved, though, in the restoration. It’s an important piece of local history that was almost swallowed up by the Oregon wildness. How sad!

One our way home from our (kinda depressing) hike yesterday we decided to stop by the cemetary to see how the cleanup went. I was rather skeptical that they would get anything done with it. That place was seriously in need of major work. A simple cleanup in which people bring their garden tools wasn’t going to do the trick.

I was so wrong!

They did an AMAZING job! It looks really good. It’s not completely cleared out, there is still ivy growing all over the place (that I tripped on, of course. The oregon forest is trying to kill me.), but you can actually walk up to the grave sites. I am so pleased!

We walked around and snapped some photos. I found my cousins’ graves and put a makeshift bouquet of flowers on them.

A nice ending to the day!

Family ghosts found


Another shot of an old gravestone

A year and a half (how has it been that long?!?) I wrote about an old Graveyard near where I live where my cousins are buried. I wrote a little about it in that post.

Before I moved here I had no idea that my uncle lived in Sandy in the sixties. We used to visit him in Portland so I just thought he always lived in Portland. But when my cousins were kids they lived in the community of Cherryville up here on The Mountain.

His daughter, when she was two years old, drowned in Whiskey Creek and my uncle had her buried in the old Cherryville Cemetery. Several decades later he buried his oldest son there, as well. When he found out that I moved to Sandy he has been asking me to go to this cemetery to check on the graves of his kids. Curious about it, I told him I would. But I haven’t been able to find it. I even have a coworker who lives on Cherryville Rd and they were not able to help me figure out where it is. My uncle even drew me a map to the place! Still no luck. So the location of this cemetery has been this huge mystery for me for a long time.

My cousin’s daughter got married in Battleground, WA on Saturday evening so my mom and uncle came to the area to attend the wedding. One of the things my uncle wanted to do while he was here was show me where this cemetery is. So Sunday, after spending the day in Portland with my mom and her gentleman friend, we met my uncle in Sandy and followed him to Cherryville.

I would have never, in a million years, been able to find this place if he hadn’t shown me where it was. We had to turn down this very vague “driveway” that led to a grove of trees. I got out of the car, walked up to the grove of trees and was thinking it was just a grove of trees. There was no graveyard to be seen anywhere. But my uncle knew exactly where to go. He brought his clippers and lopped off a tree branch and, behold, there was a path. We walked into a grove that was covered completely in trees and moss  and ivy and brambles. There was barely any light coming into this sanctuary. But I walked a little ways and found the headstone that you seen in the photo above. Then, as I looked more closely, I could see several other headstones peeking through the brush.

As we kept going we had to start bushwhacking our way to the back of the cemetery where my cousins are buried.
Clearing a path
Eventually we found what we were looking for. The graves of my uncle’s kids.

My cousin's grave markers

They actually looked pretty good. I think they were the only ones that weren’t overtaken with plants.

It’s hard to tell in this photo (my terrible timing makes him look psycho) but my uncle is super stoked that he was finally able to get up there to show me the place.
Uncle Will

We spent some time cleaning up the grave site and tried to clear the path a little bit more.

What a weird, surreal evening.

What a weird, surreal place. It wasn’t creepy though. It was actually a very pleasant, beautiful place.

More photos from my mom’s visit are on my Flickr.