By Chuck Woodbury
How many tears were shed in the Jacksonville Historic Cemetery? When I walk through a historic cemetery like this one, I can’t help imagining the scenes when each person was buried, and the tears that were shed.
I love to visit cemeteries. I typically walk from grave to grave, looking for clues to each person’s life. Cemeteries are usually very quiet and peaceful. They cause me to celebrate how lucky I am to be above ground and not below. They make me realize that won’t always be true.
There is so much history in these places, and this one in southern Oregon in particular. The West as we know it had barely been settled when the first graves were dug. George W. Harris died at age 35 in 1855, “killed by Indians,” his tombstone reads.
What I noticed most walking around this cemetery were the many graves of children. We are so lucky today that when we have children, we fully expect them to live to become adults. It wasn’t so 150 years ago when so many children died young. Modern medicine was a long way off.
Oh, the sadness in families where children were taken young. The photo above to the right with the child atop the headstone marks the graves of Willie and Lena Robinson, who died a week apart in 1890. He was six, she five — an age when our children are the most adorable. I can’t begin to imagine the heartache their parents must have felt.
A few newer graves here include a photo of the deceased on the headstone. Eugene Parks died in 2013. He’s smiling in his photo. Who was he? He looks like a nice guy. Somebody’s dad, I bet. When my parents died, we put a photo of the two of them on their headstone. I believe it was taken at one of my father’s high school reunions. I think the photos help people who wander by to know better who is beneath their feet.
If you are near Jacksonville, which is only a few miles west of Medford off I-5, try to visit the cemetery. Docents provide tours on occasion. Check out the Friends of the Cemetery website for information.