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William M. Miller

Silent City on the Hill

Jacksonville, Oregon's Historic Cemetery

From its very first burial in October 1859, a climb up cemetery road to the Silent City in Jacksonville, Oregon has been a source of pride for the community and a sign of respect for those who’ve passed on.

What once was called “the little graveyard” is now home to over 5500 souls and is one of the oldest cemeteries in Oregon that continues to allow burials.

There is a saying. “You never really die until the last person says your name.” This is the story of Jacksonville’s Cemetery and some of the names who live there, interwoven with a few moments of life for some of those residents.

Rich, poor, good, or bad, each has a story to tell.

"Well written. ... Thoroughly researched and documented.

It's easy to see that the author spent years on this story."

- M. Emmens  

To the Southern Oregon pioneer, the Jacksonville Cemetery was indeed a silent city on a hill, a community garden where those still living could visit with relatives and friends who had already passed on.

In a time when there were no public parks, the cemetery was a peaceful and comfortable refuge shared between the living and the dead. Unlike our sterile, modern memorial parks, this pioneer cemetery teemed with life. Family picnics on Sundays or holidays were not unusual and were often followed by a cleaning of a loved one’s grave. Parents strolled with children amongst the marble and granite stones, pausing to tell stories of lost cousins, grandparents, little brothers, and sisters.

The cemetery was a school of nature, art, and history, fused with memoires of youth, home, love, and death; the past merging with the present in a collective family feeling of confidence in future continuity.