Brownsville Pioneer

Also Known As: Masonic

Online Map Photos




Nearest Town:


Est. # Burials:



T 13S, R 2W, 32

Size in Acres:


USGS Lat/Lon:

442340N 1225720W


Driving Directions:

E. of Brownsville, N. side of river


Contact Info:

Linn Co. Tax Assessor: Lot 100
PO BOX 188
Deed Ref: MF10-634,MF10-635

From "Brownsville" by M. Carey and P. Hainline:

"If tombstones could speak, the history of the Oregon Country would be enriched by the stories of the pioneers buried on the lovely wooded hill east of Brownsville past the end of Kirk Avenue.

"Eliza Hart Spalding, wife of Rev. Henry H. Spalding, was the first person to be buried in the cemetery in 1851. Her remains were disinterred over sixty years later for reburial beside her husband at Lapwai, Idaho. The Spaldings' two daughters, Eliza Spalding Warren and Amelia Spalding Brown, and several grandchildren are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, once known as the Masonic Cemetery.

"There are Blakelys, Browns, Cooleys, Kirks and many more founders and pioneers of Brownsville buried in the peaceful cemetery. A visit to the Pioneer Cemetery is like a stroll through the pages of an Oregon history book."

The following information is transcribed from the WPA Linn County Cemetery Survey, researched & prepared by Leslie L. Haskin on 11-9-1938:

This cemetery is situated at the summit of a rounding hill about one mile directly east of Brownsville, Linn County, Oregon. It is upon the original Wm. R. Kirk (Riley Kirk) Donation Land claim in Section 35, Township 12, south Range 2 West of the Willamette Meridian and very near to the east line of the section.... [NB: This location information is incorrect. Correct location is T 13S, R 2W, Section 32.]

...This cemetery is a very old one. The first burial here was undoubtedly that of Mrs. Eliza Spalding, wife of Rev. H. H. Spalding, who died at Brownsville on January 13, 1851. Later, however, this body was removed to lie beside that of her husband near Lapwai, Idaho and the oldest remaining grave seems to be that of "Senna Jack", wife of N. D. Jack who died on March 7, 1851.

At first no regularly organized cemetery was laid out but as graves were required the privilege of burial was secured from the owner of the land, Mr. W. R. (Riley) Kirk. Acknowledgement for burial rights was given, not in a formal deed but only by private receipt. By the late 1860's the tract set aside by Mr. Kirk was becoming nearly filled and more burial room was needed. About 1867 the Masonic Lodge at Brownsville purchased a small tract north of Kirk's original burying plot and laid out a cemetery there. The Masons, like Kirk, simply gave a receipt of hand for the sale of lots. Later it was discovered that the plot on which the Masonic burials was being made was not the tract for which they had acquired a deed. To correct this mistake it became necessary for the Masons to purchase additional and and at the time that this additional transfer was made Riley Kirk also deeded to them gratis all of his original burying place. Thus the entire cemetery was consolidated into one under the Masonic supervision. At later dates other, small additions have been made to the original tracts.

...Summing up the historical features of importance found here we record:

A very great number of pioneer graves. Births of 1850 and precious are notable present. Of birth dates antedating the beginning of the present century there are seven:

John Barrett 1796; William McMeeken 1799; Isaac VanWinkle 1791; Samuel Smith 1799; Naomi Williams 1784; Rev. John McKinney 1798; John Dinwiddie 1798.

Most of these are buried in Section [5] of the cemetery which is by far the oldest portion. Naomi Williams is notable among these names as being by far the oldest as well as being one of the very first settlers in this region (1845). It may be noted here that the customary placement of monuments in this cemetery is with the inscription to the west, or on the side opposite the grave. However, in Section 5, the oldest part, and in a few instances in other sections the very old memorials are invariably set with the inscription facing east, or towards the grave itself.

Historical & Biographical Notes:

Graves of especial interest in this place are those of -

Eliza Spalding Warren, daughter of Rev. H. H. Spalding, Nez Perce Indian missionary. Eliza Spalding was born at the Lapwai Mission, being the first white child born west of the Rocky mountains who grew to maturity. The only earlier white birth known was that of the daughter of Marcus Whitman and this child was drowned at a very early age. ...Eliza Spading Warren was an eye witness of the Whitman massacre.

Orpha (Lankton) McKinney, wife of Rev. John McKinney. She was the Stewardess of the Lausanne in 1840 which brought Rev. Jason Lee's great reinforcement to Oregon. Her date of emigration is 1840, the earliest of any person whose body is now contained in this cemetery. The only one who antedates her arrival was Mrs. Eliza Spalding and her body has been removed from its first resting place. (However, only a small fragment was really taken according to Mrs. Whitehead, old time care-taker.)

Eliza, "Alva", and Susan Indian. These native Calapooians were notable as intelligent and trustworthy people. So far as is known they are the only Indians buried here. Eliza's husband, "Jim Indian" is believed to have been buried somewhere near Yaquina, Lincoln County.

Captain James Blakley. Founder of Brownsville. Mexican and Indian war veteran. Lived to be almost 101 years of age.

Hugh Leeper Brown. The man for whom Brownsville was named. He was a man of excellent character. He was blind for many years.

This whole cemetery is sprinkled with children's' graves, those which are marked bearing a death date of 1876 or 1877. These children were the victims of an epidemic of Diphtheria which swept through the whole country during the winter of that date. All are not marked, but as many as seven children to a single family - every child - died with this scourge. It was a winter of gloom and dread.

Most inscriptions in this cemetery are of the conventional type - scripture texts and "At Rests", "Asleep in Jesus", and the like. A few however, bear original poems, as the Hugh Fields and Amelia Brown memorials. A single pun is perpetrated in marble here, that of a woman who "Born in Walla Walla Was."

Though sadly neglected this burying place is situated in a beautiful area at the summit of al low round hill and the view of the surrounding country is very beautiful.

Online Transcriptions:

   Index only available at Jan Phillips' website.


Return to Linn County Cemeteries


References used to prepare these cemetery pages are provided.
Lisa L. Jones prepared and is solely responsible for the content of these pages. 
Copyright 2001.