This is my last post (for now) about River View. This one is mostly just questions and delights. I have made a quick run through email sources and historic newspapers of Oregon, and not found enough references to help much.
For example, I am sad that this mom only lived to be 39, but happy that her family decided to include her nickname on her stone. Rest in Peace, Becky Hunt.
This headstone, for Domingo V. Ruiz, 2nd Oregon Co. F Private Adopted, 1944, is the only Latin name in the circle of stones dedicated to the 2nd Oregon Regiment. Who is he? Why was he “adopted?” I will do more research and get back to you.
This stone was decorated with little doodads..a heart shaped necklace, some bits of wood. Hmmm. Who was Rocky? A boxer? A flying squirrel?
Mr. Jacob Mueller has a symbol on his headstone that I don’t recognize…it’s not Woodsmen of the World, Odd Fellows, or Masonic, or even the Deathly Hallows. Does anyone recognize it? I have found references from about the right time to suggest that he was a diplomatic to Frankfurt -on-the-Main, a part of what is now Germany, in 1885, and that he had a sister who lived in Estacada, Oregon and a brother who lived in Portland.
Finally, who was May Her Cha? Again, an unusual name for an historically racist cemetery in an historically racist city. There are ads for River View from the early 1900s that actually say “absolutely and exclusively limited to the Caucasian race.” Are some racist dead guys going to be cranky? Or have we finally learned to get along, at least in death?
There were a few other Chinese headstones nearby, the earliest death was 1987. Maybe sometime around then, the despicable policy was changed. Or maybe Ms Cha, living to be 103, earned some respect!
There were so many interesting things (and people) at River View Cemetery, I wanted to share some more with you. The famous people memorialized here don’t stop at founders and politicians. Important people like Henry Weinhard, one of the first and most successful brewers here in the land where we love beer, is buried surrounded by his family and whimsically remembered with a can of beer.
Colonel Owen Summers and his Second Oregon Regiment from the Spanish American War in the Philippines are all here. The men are buried in a circle that surrounds a statue of a soldier, the flag nearby at half-staff for the late John McCain. Colonel Summers himself is buried away from this area, with his wife and family.
Captain Couch, a sea captain who developed an entire portion of the city, is buried under an impressive, nautical themed column with chains, an anchor, and compass. Another set of “streets” buried nearby are Flanders, Glisan, and Hoyt.
You see, when Captain Couch mapped out his neighborhood in Northwest Portland, he labeled the streets by letters: A, B, C, etc. Later city planners wanted something more “romantic”, so they chose men from Portland’s history to coincide with the letters, like Ankeny, Burnside, and Couch himself. This decision now gives us a shorthand history lesson as we drive through town. We can also see that, like today, offspring of important people often married offspring of other important people, which we see in headstones such as “John Couch Flanders” and ” Caroline Couch Glisan”.
David Campbell, the Fire Chief who died saving his men in 1911 and who is also memorialized on West Burnside, is buried here.
Harvey Scott, who was editor of the Oregonian newspaper for many years, is here. He and I don’t see eye to eye on things, as he opposed women’s suffrage and public high schools. Interestingly, his sister, Abigail Scott Duniway, a suffrigist and prolific author who also edited a newspaper ( The New Northwest) is buried at River View. I wasn’t able to find her memorial, but I haven’t covered even half the ground yet.
In the words of another famous dead person, “I shall return.”
Yesterday morning, Auntie Bridgett and I went on a tour of the Lone Fir Cemetery, just down the street from us at Stark and 26th. This cemetery has been used since 1846, when the farmer who owned the land, James Stephens, buried his elderly father. He later sold the land to a steamship owner named Colburn Barrell, who used it within a year to bury people who died when his steamship The Gazelle exploded.
The first thing we saw when we got to the cemetery was a lady coming out, followed by a whole flock of crows. She visits the cemetery every morning and feeds them dry cat food she carries in a plastic bag. She likes the attention, she says. I’m sure the crows enjoy the breakfast!
We met Joel, our guide, and the other people on our tour. Joel is a volunteer for The Friends of the Lone Fir Cemetery, a group of people who got together after mean people broke into the cemetery on Halloween many years ago and broke a bunch of headstones and monuments. The “Friends” started repairing and guarding the cemetery, and asked the city of Portland to help. They do a good job.
We learned that the graves aren’t really organized, but people are mostly buried chronologically, in time order, from the northwest corner towards the southeast. Of course, there are exceptions , and very recent graves can be right next to pioneer headstones. Many of the old ones are impossible to read because moss grows on the stones. Eternal rest is assured. Eternal identification, not so much.
There are many beautiful black headstones with Russian writing and engraved portraits on them. When Mr. Reagan was President, he offered political asylum to any Russian or Ukrainian citizens who were Christians to come live in America, and many came to the Portland area. There are now thousands of these folks living here, and when they die, they are buried with these very distinctive headstones made by two men, who are the only ones in town who know how to make them. They have information on the front and poetry on the back. Your mommy has been translating them for me.
Another interesting grave has an urn sitting on it rather than a headstone. James Hansen Frush was chief bartender at the Front Street Saloon, always generous with his friends and very well-loved. While he was alive, he had this big metal urn that he used to offer eggnog during the holiday season. When he died, his friends decided to place the urn over his grave to remember his generosity. But the next Christmas, they missed him, so they came across the river, fetched the urn back to the bar, and enjoyed eggnog in his memory, returning the urn to the grave after the New Year. This back and forth went on for a few years. The urn that is still here is a concrete cast of that urn. There is even a hole there the eggnog would come out.
There are many others, but the last one I will tell you about today is the grave of Eric Ladd. When Eric Ladd was born in Portland, his name was Leslie Carter Hansen. He became an actor, changed his name to Eric Ladd, moved to New York, then Hollywood, and retired back to Portland, very successful. He used the money he had made to help preserve some of the beautiful old buildings in town that were gong to be torn down.
When Eric got sick at 78 or so, a friend was traveling in Romania and found a beautiful iron cross. The friend bought it to use for when Eric died. Then his friends bought some iron fencing from Mark Twain’s house in Missouri (Eric loved Mark Twain’s writings and had made shows of his stories) and put the fencing around the grave to protect the cross. It is ornate, historic, and perfect.
My visit to the Lone Fir ended, as it always does, by me feeling lucky to be alive and happy to learn about all these people who lived here before me. But this time, I have fun information, as well!