Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries led a tour of three abandoned cemeteries on Saturday, October 26, 2019. The event was sponsored by the local chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America in honor of International Archaeology Day.
Participants boarded a bus provided by Walla Walla University at 9:00 a.m. in the Walla Walla Community College parking lot, which took them to the Stubblefield (Saling) Cemetery on Foster Road in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, where they toured the cemetery and had an opportunity to participate in an assessment of its needs, as well as helping with plans for mapping the cemetery and finding the location of unmarked graves.
After Stubblefield, participants moved on to the Lyons Creek (Hendrix) Cemetery, northeast of Mill Creek and Meiners roads.
The final site on the tour was the Rose Hill Cemetery at the corner of Middle Waitsburg and Smith roads, after which the bus returned to WWCC by 3:00 p.m. Rose Hill is closer to the road than Stubblefield or Lyons Creek, both of which required considerable walking from the road. After dropping off some participants at WWCC, the bus returned to Lyons Creek Cemetery where those able to walk there participated in another tour and assessment of the site and its needs.
Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries (WWHC) currently holds a Certificate of Authority by the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for the care and maintenance of two of these abandoned cemeteries, Stubblefield and Lyons Creek. The original owners of each of these cemeteries deeded the grounds to a cemetery association in the 1800s, but all of these associations have been long disbanded.
The Stubblefield (Saling) Cemetery was established in 1863 by John Saling, who homesteaded there, and deeded the grounds to the Saling Cemetery Association in 1870. The heavily wooded cemetery, whose last known burial was in 1920, sits far back from Foster Road, north of its intersection with Reser Road, and has been the subject of serious vandalism over the decades. It has also been the location for a variety of ghost stories, as well as a novel titled “Stubblefield” that includes a murder there. The cemetery has been referred to by a variety of names over the years, including Saling, Russell Creek, Blue Mountain, and finally Stubblefield, in honor of Joseph Stubblefield, who farmed in the vicinity, and whose will in 1902 provided funds for a family monument there, as well as a trust fund for maintenance of the cemetery. The access road had been removed to prevent further cemetery vandalism, which in 1990 was made a felony by the state legislature, and vehicle access was only by permission of neighboring landowners. The new nonprofit has recently restored the road, has discovered and returned two gravestones stolen from the cemetery, and is currently seeking information on the location of gravestones taken from any of Walla Walla’s historic graveyards.
The Lyons Creek (Hendrix) Cemetery was established in 1871 by John and Lucinda Hendrix, who homesteaded the surrounding area, and deeded the graveyard to the Hendrix Cemetery Association in 1887. The cemetery sits on a hill east of Meiners Road and Lyons Creek, overlooking Mill Creek Road to the south. A prominent burial there is the grave of William Davies, the leader of a Latter-day Saints schismatic group called the Kingdom of Heaven. Davies and forty of his followers moved to Walla Walla in 1866 and established a communal society on 400 acres near the top of Scenic Loop Road at its intersection with what is now Mormon Grade. When his son Arthur was born on February 11, 1868, Davies declared that the infant was the reincarnated Jesus Christ, and the child came to be called “the Walla Walla Jesus.”
The Rose Hill (Buroker) Cemetery was established in 1869 by Oliver and Clara Gallaher, who homesteaded the land, and deeded four acres to the Rose Hill Cemetery Association in 1887. The largest monument in the cemetery honors the Buroker family, for whom the cemetery is also known.
Registration for the October 26 cemetery tour, was $30 for adults, and $15 for students,paid to the Walla Walla Chapter of the Archaelogical Institute of America. All proceeds were donated to the Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries graveyard preservation fund.
For vehicle visits to any of the cemeteries managed by Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries, please call 773-599-3620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pedestrian visits are available daily from sunrise to sunset without special arrangements, with the current excepion of Lyons Creek Cemetery due to pending litigation.