brown cemetery (beatty)
I doubled back to the cafe cum gas station, one of the few structures in what can’t even be called the hamlet of Beatty. I could see the cemetery from the highway (140), a small forest of white pillars against a treeless hillside just east of town; but contrary to my Google map, there was no connecting road between the highway and what the map was calling Railroad Dr. Furthermore, between Hwy. 140 and Railroad Dr. was the Sprague River, another feature on which my map was silent. Hence, I found myself asking the lady presiding over the cash register if she knew how to get to the cemetery I’d seen?

“Heck, I never leave the store. I never get anywhere,” she lamented. “Hey, Darrell, how do you get to that Indian cemetery, the one you can see from the road?”

Darrell, in bib overalls, provided the directions, which, after a few false passages, led me to the cemetery. The Indian cemetery. I stress that because every other source I find calls this cemetery the Masekesket Cemetery, a name for which I have no explanation other than it sounds Native-American to me. Every source, that is, except the name on the arch over the cemetery entrance; that says “Brown.”

Brown it is, then.

Nonetheless, it’s still an Indian cemetery; one of the many reasons to visit this small, out-of-the-way, and unusual graveyard. Getting there is half the fun. If my directions aren’t adequate, you’ll have to go back to the Beatty store and start over again, but I think persistence will win out. Except for power lines overhead, it’s a good place for a cemetery, overlooking the river bottom and forested hills beyond.

On closer inspection it turns out that all the stones are not white, but that’s the predominant impression from a distance. What reinforces that impression is a cluster of statuary atop white pillars echoing the impressive array in, well, Echo. They’re very dramatic and surprising in a countryside not known for its great wealth. I don’t know if their sponsors were Indian, but if they were, that’s a story in itself. Otherwise, being small, there’s not a lot of room here for self-expression, although the marker for Zetta John (1923-1959) in the shape of a four-foot high arrow head is distinctive enough.

An ominous epitaph is chiseled into Merlin Chocktoot’s (1920-1941) granite: “Assassinated Dec. 6, 1941.” “Murdered” shows up on tombstones infrequently, but this is a first for “assassinated.” And what is the difference?

If by chance you’re not living within a couple hundred miles of Beatty—and more’s the pity to you, if you’re not—and you do happen to find yourself meandering down this way, do yourself a favor and drive the Sprague River from Chiloquin to its intersection with Hwy. 140 slightly west of Beatty. If you’re a trout fisherman, bring your rod. If you’re not a fisherman, just drive real slow. You don’t need to, but it prolongs the pleasure.

Directions:

From Hwy. 140 in "downtown" Beatty, take Godowa Springs Rd. due north about 2 1/2 miles to the intersection from the east of Sycan Rd. Take that road. Take it to a fork in the road. There is (or was) no sign, but the road going off to the right should be Ferguson Rd. In any event, take that right and then keep bearing right at the subsequent intersection as the road turns to a one-lane track. At the crest of a ridge before the road drops down to the Sprague River, there is another fork; this time take the left-hand track which leads to the cemetery.
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