applegate cemetery (yoncalla, or)
There is no sign for this cemetery, but I had narrowed down the drive to what turned out to be the correct one, although I wasn’t positive. There were, though, a couple of young boys, thirteen or fourteen or so, hoofing down the shoulder towards Yoncalla. Young boys always know where cemeteries are. I drove up next to them and rolled down my window: “You boys know where the Applegate Cemetery is, by any chance?”

“Sure,” one of the kids popped right up, “its…” and he proceeded to give me directions to the Yoncalla Cemetery, which was next on my map. But it wasn’t what I was looking for. I knew the Applegate Cemetery was up that drive, or one close by, so I thanked him profusely and said I’d head right down there as soon as I checked out this other drive. He was confused. The Applegates were so influential around here that the poor kid thought the cemetery was named after them; but I knew that there really was an Applegate Family Cemetery because my whilom friend, Shannon Applegate, was sexton there and had written about it in her book Among the Tombstones.

I did find the cemetery even though I doubted the drive for a while as it went through a parking lot cum junk yard for miscellaneous derelict logging equipment and trucks. At the end of the drive, though, was a half-acre cemetery with a narrow view over the Valley of the Eagle, if you discount the parking lot; which, by the way, is or was peppered with cows, even though there was no gate between them and the highway.

The cemetery is small and cozy, but I was somewhat taken aback to not be able to find the marker for Shannon’s granddaughter, whom I knew to be buried there. I didn’t find here dad, Rex, either, but I did find the two Jesses. And I found a brand-new cemetery gate, compliments, I would imagine, of Shannon.

Then I drove on to hunt down the Yoncalla Cemetery. I hadn’t paid too close attention to the boy’s directions as I’d already located the cemetery through ePodunk, and I knew he was talking about the Yoncalla Cemetery. It was precisely where it was supposed to be, only instead of being named the Yoncalla Cemetery, as sources indicate, it was named the Drain-Yoncalla Masonic Cemetery. Minor problem. Except that it wasn’t alone. As cemeteries everywhere are wont to cluster together, there were two cemeteries sharing the parking lot atop this hill on the edge of town: the Masonic and, indeed, the Applegate Pioneer Cemetery. This, it turns out, is Shannon’s cemetery. Here I found her father, Rex, and her granddaughter, Grace Applegate Brown. Why two cemeteries? I have no idea. It reminds me of the situation at Aurora where its founding family is also split between a family and a public cemetery.

And I have no idea who provided the new gate, but it sure is nice.

Directions:

On the west side of old Hwy. 99 just north of mile post 3 a couple miles north of Yoncalla, there is an historical marker for Jesse Applegate. The drive just to the north of that sign leads to the cemetery.
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