A New Friend at Lone Fir Cemetery

Dear Liza,

Saturday was beautiful and sunny, so between art and errands, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to visit the Dead People at Lone Fir. This old cemetery is lovely in any weather, but on a sunny spring day it seems to deliver the package of emotions I need; beauty, mourning, eternity, new beginnings and final endings. It was wonderful.

Monument to James Gray Flowerdew

And I found a new friend. This eight foot tall monument was erected to James Gray Flowerdew (great name, right?) who had died on July 22, 1872. The Masonic emblem is on the tombstone, so we know he was a Mason in good standing. He was also only 37, which seemed really young to have this sort of marker.

I was really curious about this fellow, and got on the Internet to find out more about him. Mr. Flowerdew was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1835, where he and his family owned property. I know he lived there at least until 1867, because he is listed in a court case where he and other members of his family were awarded an inheritance due them.

He came to Portland sometime between 1867 and 1870, and on January 2, 1871, he formed a new company, Hewitt, Flowerdew and Co., with businessman Henry Hewitt. According to an ad in a June 1871 Oregonian, they had offices at the corner of First and Ash Streets downtown and bought and sold shipments of Liverpool Salt, Scotch Pig Iron, Dundee textiles, tin plates, and sheet iron.

The company got a valuable new client that June, the Imperial Fire Insurance Company of London. The ad announcing this business move was placed by Henry Corbett and Donald Macleay, powerful movers and shakers in Portland industry. Mr. Macleay was also from Scotland, so maybe having this in common with him helped young Mr. Flowerdew.

On August 16, 1871, Mr. Flowerdew was appointed as Vice Council to Great Britain, being congratulated in the official documents of the State of Oregon by Governor L. F. Grover. Life was good. His business was growing and he was becoming important politically. Then tragedy struck.

Sometime in June of 1872, he was thrown from his buggy in an accident, and died six weeks later of his injuries. He had been in the country less than four years. His brother and sisters back in Scotland put up this magnificent marble monument to him.

So now I know a little bit more about Portland’s late, great population. Only about a million folks to go!


Grandma Judy

River View Cemetery, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Yes, this makes Failing look good….

Yesterday, Auntie Bridgett and I decided we wanted to go on an adventure. We wanted to ride our bikes across the Willamette to the River View Cemetery. It would take about half an hour to get there, and we had maps to show us a good bicycle route. But we hit a snag.

Auntie Bridgett’s Brompton folding bicycle, Nigel, had a flat back tire. Fixing it would involve tools she doesn’t have and time she didn’t want to spend, so we changed our plans. We would drive Nigel to Clever Cycles, then continue driving to River View.

Eva, checking Nigel out

Clever Cycles on SE Hawthorne is the first bike shop we ever went into here in Portland. Auntie Katie rented us bikes from here to ride around town years ago. Eva, one of the many bike mechanics there, looked at Nigel and agreed that she and her colleagues would take care of Nigel and we could pick him up in about a week.

We headed across the river and south to River View Cemetery.  I’ve been told that “there’s a lot of good streets buried in River View,” and that this is the “high class cemetery.” It certainly is better maintained than Lone Fir…the lush grass is watered so often in these dry summer months that my sandaled feet got damp. Even the oldest stones are clean and legible, with no ancient grass covering them and no vandalism to be seen.

Dead people’s view of the River

And this does seem to be the high-rent district for dead folks. George Abernethy,  the first Provisional Governor of the Oregon Country, died five years before River View was founded, was buried in Lone Fir, then moved to River View. I guess Lone Fir had too much riffraff.

Founded in 1882, River View holds many of the founders of Portland, names that are familiar to anyone who has even briefly visited the city. William Ladd,  (Ladd’s Addition), James Terwilliger,  (Terwilliger Curves,) and Henry Pittock. (Pittock Mansion) are all within shouting distance of each other.

Their headstones are often huge,  needing to impress upon you just how important these men were. Besides their headstones, there are three benches in a part of the cemetery called Founder’s Park where Mr. Ladd, Henry Failing and Henry Corbett are memorialized, with their accomplishments carved in stone. It seems a bit…much.

Mr. Failing’s bench

However, a bench is a bench, and we enjoyed Mr. Failing’s quiet company as we ate our cheese and crackers. I will tell you more about this interesting cemetery tomorrow!


Grandma Judy