Linkville Pioneer Cemetery - Klamath Falls, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member thebeav69
N 42° 13.966 W 121° 46.914
10T E 600512 N 4676338
Quick Description: Linkville Pioneer Cemetery was established in 1885 and contains the graves of some of the earliest settlers in Klamath County.
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 4/23/2015 2:05:08 PM
Waymark Code: WMNR72
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 0

Long Description:
The Linkville Pioneer Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Klamath Falls and has been pretty-well maintained over the decades by volunteers who meet frequently to repair headstones and markers as well as other landscaping projects. The following verbiage is taken from the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places nomination form to describe its significance:

Social History
Linkville Pioneer Cemetery, since its beginning as Klamath Falls’ first permanent cemetery and through its continual use, embodies and reflects many of the city’s significant events in its historic fabric. In a broader context it has sections dedicated to the IOOF, the American Legion, the unknown pioneers of the region, the victims of the Houston Hotel fire, and the balloon bomb victims. It also, however, portrays several more unusual events in the social history of Klamath Falls, including the range wars, the Japanese-American internment at Tule Lake Segregation Center, and the Pete Williams burial controversy.

The Linkville Pioneer Cemetery contains a series of grave markers that convey the social history of the ranchers that resided around Klamath Falls and within Klamath County. In particular, these markers convey the range wars that took place between cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers. These events illustrate the social relations between the ranchers as they fought each other over land and livestock, which was a significant issue in ranching life in the area at that time. It also exhibits the distrust and loathing between stockmen and sheep herders. These groups often found themselves in conflict with each other over land because unregulated ranching allowed sheep to decimate expanses of plant life for feed. Linkville Pioneer Cemetery’s related burials are direct results of these conflicts.4 The burials occurred from 1882 to 1918, during the initial ranching settlement and development of the area. Note that the range of dates representing these markers begins before the period of significance because some graves were moved from the earlier, downtown cemetery that was removed during the city’s expansion.

There are four known events portrayed by the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery markers. These markers are: 1. the Lee and Joe Laws grave marker; 2. the Amon Shook grave marker; 3. the Owen McKendree grave marker; and 4. the Mary Wilcox and Maggie Jones grave marker. These markers retain high integrity and are the only visible physical reminders of these conflicts outside the written record. Their association with the range war events is further illustrated by text on two of the markers, which proclaims that the victims were “murdered” and “assassinated.”

In addition to the social history of the ranchers around the turn of the past century, the cemetery also portrays the history of racism in the United States surrounding the events of World War II. The first example is the incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II. In 1946, after the Tule Lake Segregation Center was closed, the burials were moved to Linkville Pioneer Cemetery. These eleven burials represent a small portion of the deaths in which the remains were not cremated at the camp, which was the usual practice. It is a rare example of a site that has a grouping of burials from a War Relocation Authority camp and is also the only grouping of burials from the Tule Lake Segregation Center. This gravesite within Linkville Pioneer Cemetery is important because it represents a tragic period of time when Japanese- Americans were discriminated against based on race and were forced to live in internment camps. The markers have good integrity and still convey the meaning that underlies their significance. Additional memorials have been added over time around the markers since their introduction into the cemetery. This collection of markers has also been used as a pilgrimage site for families of the Tule Lake Segregation Center internees.

The second example racism in the immediate post-World War II era is the burial of Pete Williams, which sparked a controversy in 1949 due to his African-American heritage and the Jim Crow laws of the time. His grave marker and its location are indicative of the issues of racial discrimination and treatment of African- American veterans in the region prior to the civil rights movement. In addition, it displays how an unassuming request for burial-rights equality for a war veteran caused a controversy that overturned a discriminatory stipulation and led to further debate on racial inequalities. Pete Williams’ final resting place in Linkville Pioneer Cemetery, the cemetery that allowed him an equal burial, is the best site to convey this important historic event as it is the physical reminder symbolic of the larger issue of being an African American during a period of prejudice in the region.

The Founding of Linkville
Linkville was founded about March 12, 1867, by George Nurse at the site of his cabin.5 Prior to Nurse’s occupation of the site, the Klamath Tribe had occupied the general area, and had thrived due to the lakes and wetlands. By 1871, Nurse began construction of a hotel and by 1877 he built Linkville’s first sawmill on the west bank of the Link River.6 On February 26, 1878, there was a dedication for the town site of Linkville, and it grew nearby the Link River into a mass of wood-framed buildings.7 The name Linkville disappeared by 1893, when the name of the young town was changed to Klamath Falls. The City of Klamath Falls was incorporated by the state legislature in 1905.8 The primary industry of Klamath Falls was timber harvesting, though ranching was also a major industry in the region.

Establishment of the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery
The first burial ground for Linkville was located somewhere around 3rd and Pine Streets (downtown Klamath Falls presently). It was established some time between 1860 and 1885, evidenced by graves that date to that period.9 In 1885 the digging of William Steel’s ditch, which later became the Ankeny Canal, forced the movement of the original cemetery. To direct this process, the citizens of Linkville formed an organization called the Linkville Cemetery Association, which included twelve members: W.C. Hale, R.E. Davis, Paul Breitenstein, J.R. McClellen, E.M. Devoe, G.W. Smith, George T. Baldwin, E.R. Reames, J.A. Bowdoin, Charles S. Moore, J.P. Roberts, and J.W. Hamaker. Additional citizens could become members if they purchased a burial lot for $5.00.

Baldwin and Reames purchased 20 acres of land for the cemetery from the Croutch ranch.10 The land was chosen by the association because it was “out in the country.” The cemetery was initially designed as a rural cemetery on a hill overlooking the town. This land was also adjacent to the existing Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery. The 300 burials from the original cemetery, which dated from the 1860s to the 1880s, were moved to this new location. However, many of these graves were never identified. They were later honored with a monument inscribed, “Erected to the Memory of the Unknown Pioneers Sleeping Here.” Some of the first significant graves within Linkville Pioneer Cemetery were ranchers who died while involved in a range war. They mark an early, more lawless period of social history for Klamath Falls, which is discussed in detail under the Social History section.

County / Borough / Parish: Klamath County

Year listed: 2014

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Community Planning and Development, Social History

Periods of significance: 1885-1949

Historic function: Funerary, Cemetery

Current function: Funerary, Cemetery

Privately owned?: no

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Street address: Not listed

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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