Our maintenance and restoration work takes planning and it takes money. A significant portion of our revenue comes from the sale of plots and crypts, but that's not enough. We try to obtain volunteer and grant support as much as possible, but we need additional revenue to carry on this important work. For that, we have to rely on friends such as you to help.
We thank you for all your past support, and we ask you to be as generous as possible in supporting us now. Click here to donate.
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Thomas and Nancy Kincaid and their seven children left Indiana in February 1853 for a long and arduous journey over the Oregon Trail. They arrived in Lane County on October 11, and settled on a 320-acre donation land claim just three miles southeast of Eugene. Thomas and Harrison, his 17-year-old son, were able to build a one-room log cabin to provide shelter for the family before winter set in. The cabin contained a fireplace for cooking and beds constructed from fir boughs.
But how were they to celebrate the holidays? Leonore Gale Barette, granddaughter of Thomas and Nancy, tells us in her charming booklet,"Christmas in Oregon Territory in 1853," published in 1950. "The days were nearing Christmas, and grandfather and grandmother, remembering the joyous and merry times in the old home in Indiana with it's full larder and storehouses to draw on, churches and stores within a day's driving distance, and their own friendly parents and relations living nearby, felt they must try to make some small observance of the day."
Even though money was scarce (it had all been spent on their journey), no church was there to attend, and food consisted of flour, potatoes, dried fruit, brown sugar, and some bacon. Thomas and Nancy determined to make Christmas a special day. The festivities consisted of Harrison inflating paper bags and then popping them with a bang. He also created a mask from twigs and dry grass; looking like an elf, he entertained his younger siblings.
And dinner? "Grandmother has set the crude homemade table, lighted with tallow candles. She used the few pretty dishes she had . . . . Grandfather had brought in a fat grouse, and Grandmother had made, almost out of thin air, some little cakes. She had contrived a few little figures from potatoes with sticks for legs, and for their faces she scraped the skin from the tuber and had tiny buttons for eyes. They wore jaunty little hats made somehow from bits of paper and leaves. These centered the table, and the children admired them with 'Oh's' and Ah's' and wide eyes."
And after dinner? "Harrison put logs in the fireplace to build up a big crackling fire. Grandfather took down his worn Bible and read again the old, old story of the three wise men, the shepherds who watched their flocks by night, the manger, the Birth of Christ. Never were the chapters more reverently read nor more intently absorbed than in that crude little log cabin."
Leonore Barette is buried in the Masonic Cemetery, as are her grandfather and four aunts and uncles. Story submitted by Karen Seidel.
EMC Master Planning
The Eugene Masonic Cemetery board is beginning on a much-needed program of master planning our historic cemetery. In preparation, the EMC Site Committee met with Emeritus Professor Robert Melnick, a Landscape Architect, and former Dean at the University. He is a nationally renowned and internationally recognized expert in cultural landscape evaluation and historic landscape preservation planning. He thoughtfully shared his expertise, offered his insights about our cemetery and suggested an overview of the next steps to be taken by the EMC board and staff toward the master planning of the cemetery.
The Eugene Masonic Cemetery is a working cemetery (grave sites are still available) with a landscape that is both a culturally significant and a recognized historical site, resting in a natural setting of mature trees and planted open spaces. The task is to determine how to respect and interpret these dissimilar elements with mutual respect and appropriate regard.
The first phase is to inventory the site, from its very beginnings through maps and photographs, to the present. Important would be to identify its periods of growth, evaluate its spatial organization in all its changes over time, and identify the most important spaces. An inventory of the whole of the site, not just the important monuments or people, but all aspects including both cultural elements and landscape features will be undertaken. It is hoped that providing good documentation of vegetation, both past and present, while not forgetting the small-scale features—elements that add to the landscape but are not easily categorized—would be valuable to the inventory. We are to determine the most important spaces and places, as well as how people moved around both past and present. Professor Melnick added that capturing good baseline data is very important to accomplish before making good planning decisions. If possible, we are to create a topographical map.
We were urged to set priorities after the inventory is complete and to determine what we can afford to do (or what grants may be available.) While we do have a professional staff, we should determine what volunteers could effectively do as well.
The cemetery is a historically protected, significant site because it is a cemetery within a 19th century landscape. We wish to determine how past actions enhanced or diminished this and determine how we blend the present with the past. Essentially, we wish to maintain the site so people can enjoy it and understand what a remarkable experience it is when they walk around the grounds. In essence, the Eugene Masonic Cemetery is equivalent to an Outdoor Museum (as well as a working cemetery) where much of Eugene's history can be told.
Finally, the committee would enjoy receiving any historic photograph or visual documents from our readers.
Donald Peting, Board Member & Historical Architect
John Bredesen, eNewsletter Editor Eugene Masonic Cemetery Association
To restore, rehabilitate, maintain, interpret and operate the historic Eugene Masonic Cemetery and Hope Abbey Mausoleum as a cultural and natural resource for the community.