Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries will be leading a tour of three abandoned cemeteries on Saturday, October 26, 2019. The event is sponsored by the local chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America in honor of International Archaeology Day.
Participants will board a bus provided by Walla Walla University at 9:00 a.m. in the Walla Walla Community College parking lot, which will take them to the Stubblefield (Saling) Cemetery on Foster Road in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, where they will tour the cemetery and have 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 will move on to the Lyons Creek (Hendrix) Cemetery, northeast of Mill Creek and Meiners roads, for another tour and assessment of the site and its needs.
The final site on the tour will be the Rose Hill Cemetery at the corner of Middle Waitsburg and Smith roads, after which the bus will return by 3:00 p.m. Rose Hill is closer to the road than Stubblefield or Lyons Creek, both of which require considerable walking from the road.
Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries (WWHC) has been granted a Certificate of Authority by the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for the care and maintenance of two of these abandoned cemeteries. The original owners of each cemetery 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 has been removed to prevent further cemetery vandalism, which in 1990 was made a felony by the state legislature, and vehicle access is only by permission of neighboring landowners. The new nonprofit has recently 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.” More information on Davies and the history of this community is available on the web at http://ww2020.net/history-websites/william-davies-and-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.
To register for the October 26 cemetery tour, for which the cost is $30 for adults, and $15 for students, please email Sarah Davies (AIA-Walla Walla president) at email@example.com. All proceeds will go to a Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries graveyard preservation fund.
To visit any of the cemeteries managed by Walla Walla Historic Cemeteries, please call 509-416-6260, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on these and other historic cemeteries in the Walla Walla area, including the names of those known to be buried there along with biographical information on some, go to www.wwhistoriccemeteries.org.