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by Jennifer Ann


The cemetery was established in the late 1800’s with the last recorded burial as 1912. According to cemetery records; influenza, typhoid, pneumonia, suicide, a fire and trouble along the pioneer trail were causes of death. A canyon sets across from the cemetery that was believed to be the old stage coach road. According to newspaper accounts this was where a battle took place and in the 30’s several human remains were unearthed.

I will never forget those summer nights as a kid, taking the long walk at dusk to this now abandoned and extremely vandalized cemetery. As I would come upon that tall iron arch, it was as if we stepped into another time. The air is still and even though you are right above town it feels as if you are completely alone.

One lone tree stands at its center, missing lamps; broken stones, never knowing if you were standing on a grave, the only indication left is the indentation in the ground where someone still lies. If there ever was a lonely place I think this would be the loneliest that could ever be.

As I stood looking out beyond the cemetery I watched the amber fields dance like waves, in a gentle breeze that seemed to be all around me, yet could not be felt within the cemetery. My attention was drawn back to this small and extremely dry patch of land when my sister began to read the stones; “Beyond Life’s Toils and Cares.”

It was then I came across a particular grave, now there was nothing about this grave, to me that stood out from the rest, in terms of physical appearance, yet something seemed different. Something felt different, there was something that whispered inside me “Learn more.”

As soon as we had returned home, I made some phone calls and found out just how unique this particular stone was. I was able to connect with a local historian, who told us that the stone belonged to a man named James and that his wife’s body had been taken from her grave and never found. This sent chills up my spine because when my sister and I were back up at the cemetery we were discussing how we both emotionally felt. My sister picked up on a strong and angry male presence. I however picked up on a very sad and distant feeling female energy, and if what the historian relayed to us was true, then it all made sense.

Upon further review I was not able to find much information in regards to James family. All I know is that James himself was a farmer and had 4 children. As for the body snatching story, who knows if it is fact or just a local myth. There was however, a market back in that time for cadavers, so the story is fathomable but for now I love a good mystery and look forward to seeing where this might lead.

Something else, that was interesting that the historian shared with my sister and I, was a story about a photograph. Several years ago the local school would take the trek up to the cemetery to clean the grounds, doing any weeding or throwing away of trash that needed to be done. On this particular day it was a 6th grade class, they stood together for a group photo and upon development there was a boy found in the picture that no one recognized. This would not be the only time a strange occurrence would happen in a photograph taken on those grounds.

Just as recently as 2013 a photographer was there during sunset and set up his camera to take photos every 30 seconds. In one of the pictures he captured a figure that appears to be a man. The skull of this person seems to be elongated but maybe it is as explainable as a regular person wearing a hat. You can google the image pretty easily by typing in mysterious photograph Milton-Freewater Oregon.

Out of all the cemeteries that I have been too, I must say that this one captivates me the most. Not only for the aura of the place but also my own personal connection. Although, I did not realize I had any personal connection to the place until researching more about James last night. I recognized 3 surnames and quickly jumped onto my family tree. Sure enough two of my Second Great Aunts and another family member are buried at that very cemetery. I shouldn’t necessarily be so surprised, as we have a whole family history from that area. However I thought that all our family was laid to rest at the newer cemetery. It makes me sad to know that my ancestors are up there in that lonely place, so the next time I go up there I will have to take some pretty bouquets and hope that I can find where they are resting.

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