You may wonder why I am interested in cemeteries. (Or not. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many people I know also like cemeteries. Of course, you may also simply not care!)

For one thing, cemeteries are great photography subjects. Between the artwork of the headstones, and the stories told in the inscriptions, I continue to take hundreds of pictures every time I visit one.

I know I said I’d soon be posting pictures of Hargadine Cemetery, but first I’m posting some photos of an earlier walk through Ashland Cemetery. Sorry if that disappoints you for some reason.

One of the things I find interesting is how the headstones often suggest attitudes about death, the afterlife, and even grieving.

Ashland CemeteryThe shapes and markings on the headstones symbolize certain things. For example, an arch may signify passage to heaven, or being reunited in heaven. Or, it might simply mean the person buried there thought arches were cool. 

Though it may be impossible to read in this photo, the arched headstone on the left marks the graves of what I’m guessing were two brothers, Freddie and Ossie Caniard. They died in 1883 within a few weeks of each other; one was fifteen, the other sixteen. Talk about harsh.

As I was taking that picture, I was listening to a mourning dove calling from the trees in the background.

Closeup of headstone
Here’s a close-up of the headstone on the right in the picture above. I suppose the gazebo-thingie (I’m pretty sure that’s the correct term) on top might be arch-like in meaning, or it may refer to heaven, or maybe that the dead body we leave behind is a house left by the spirit that occupied it.

I found several interesting inscriptions scattered around the cemetery:
Ashland Cemetery headstone inscription
“There have been many changes in those we loved.
Some have changed from old friends to the new.
But we feel in the depths of our hearts,
There never was any change in you.”
— Your old playmates

I’m not sure I understand what the old playmates were trying to say. How do you change from an old friend to a new one?

Ashland Cemetery headstone inscription

“To the dear little mound
Among the hills, foliage crowned.
Where happy songsters trill their lay,
With thee my heart will always stay,
For thee my thoughts will oft return,
For thee my inmost soul will yearn.”
— V.S.C. Mickelson

Ashland Cemetery headstone inscription
Here’s a bit of history. The inscription itself tells a little bit about the man, Capt. Thomas Smith, and about the times. It turns out the inscription was etched into the marble in 1890 — before Capt. Smith was actually dead. His wife, Margaret, however, had already been buried there nearly sixteen years.

I found a transcription of an article* from the Ashland Daily Tidings dated Friday May 23, 1890 that talks about this very headstone:

Ashland news article about Capt. Smith's headstone

The article says, “the Captain is in his 81st year, but he bids fair to prevent the completion of the inscription for a goodly number of years yet.” Capt. Smith ended up dying two years later in 1892.

Ashland Cemetery Pliny R. Strange
Oh, and another thing about cemeteries (at least, if you write stories) is that they are a good source of interesting names.

For example: Pliny R. Strange

Just one more:

Interesting grave marker in Ashland Cemetery
I’ll leave it to you to “interpret” the meaning of the images on this grave marker. (Click the image for a larger view.)

It’s interesting to me that this man died in 1875, yet I read that Ashland Cemetery wasn’t established until 1880. What gives?

The National Register of Historic Places site says, “Burial dates in Ashland Cemetery range from 1860 (predating the official graveyard platting in 1880) to the present.”

So, there you go.


So do you have a cemetery you have particularly liked?


* I want to credit the source of the article on “A Beautiful Monument.” Oddly, it’s part of a scanned document whose pages have the following footer:

“Source: Iowa Territorial and State Legislators Collection compiled by volunteers and staff at the State Historical Society of Iowa Library, Des Moines, Iowa.”I found the document at
Stroll through Ashland Cemetery in Oregon
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7 thoughts on “Stroll through Ashland Cemetery in Oregon

  • 08-30-2011 at 5:13 am

    How are the trees in this cemetery? A large part of why I love Bayview Cemetery is the trees – especially the maples and the oaks in the spring.

    Did you ever read the epitaph (Bayview again) “from almost rags to almost riches?” I always noticed that and pointed it out to my stepmom one day. She knew the woman!

    • 08-30-2011 at 6:15 am

      I recall the trees being very nice. We have a lot of oak trees around here. Maples too. In fact, I think we have a lot more deciduous trees here. The trees in the cemetery are mature and cast nice shade. Both cemeteries I’ve been to here are that way.

      I’ve been to Bayview many times and shot a lot of pictures there, but I’m not sure whether or not I saw that epitaph or not. I kind of rings a bell. Which part of the Bayview is it in?

      That’s cool that your stepmom knew who it was. I mean, it kind of gives a context or background for the person memorialized there. When I went to Bayview with someone who had been around Bellingham for awhile, she was able to point out where one of the kids killed in the pipeline explosion had been buried. Seeing the grave sort of made the explosion “real” for me since I hadn’t lived in B’ham at the time.

  • 09-07-2011 at 4:21 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog while reading on fountain pens. I like the candid writing and though I’m not crazy about cemeteries, it’s interest to find someone who is.

    • 09-07-2011 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate your comment.

      What is your interest in fountain pens?

      The pen I have is a Cross and I like it. Now I almost always write by typing, so the pen (and a slew of notebooks) are gathering dust.

  • 09-07-2011 at 7:04 pm

    I used fountain pens as a child then was forced to use ball pens and only recently returned to fountain pens. They’re great to write with. And I like the technology of the filling mechanisms, especially of vintage pens. Some pens are decades old and they still work.

    I reread my comment above and saw two horrible typo errors. Sorry, it’s early AM here. Cheers!

    • 09-08-2011 at 3:25 am

      I never even touched a fountain pen until I was an adult. Once I did, I used it for nearly all my writing until I moved to the computer. But I really enjoy the feel of writing with one and I like how the ink looks as it flows onto the paper. I even like the sound of the nib moving over the paper.

      Hmm, now I feel inspired to both write by hand and look around town for old and interesting fountain pens. Thanks!

  • 09-08-2011 at 4:06 pm

    Flea markets and antique shops are good places to go. Some of the pens that no longer work are easy to fix, especially lever fill. There’s a lot of info all over the net 🙂 Hope you find something interesting.


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