Located in an area settled by some of our very first settlers, Lee Mission Cemetery in the 2100 Block of D Street in northeast Salem holds the remains of many early Methodist missionaries, including Reverend Jason Lee of the original 1834 Willamette Mission. The president of their board of directors, Stephenie Flora, joined us today and shared some of her vast knowledge of this historic site as well as other aspects of Oregon history. The cemetery was first developed in 1838, and by 1842 held the remains of Jason Lee's first and second wives and infant children. Due to swampy, unhealthy conditions, in 1841 the Mission and Indian Manual Training School were moved further south to a location on Mill Creek (960 Broadway Street NE, currently) where a lumber mill and grist mill were soon constructed. Some of the original buildings from this site were relocated to the Willamette Heritage Center complex in more recent times.
Stephenie's family came to Oregon in 1847 and never left; one branch, the Rev. W.R. Pattys, even donated the land for the northern part of this cemetery. She has been compiling vast libraries of family geneaology over the years. She has developed a website, Oregonpioneers.com, where she shares with the public a broad database of Oregon pioneer history. She and a network of fellow history enthusiasts continue to research and expand this database.
As is the case with so many of our historic sites, Lee Mission Cemetery is a private non-profit and receives no support from the City or County. They have recently opened up an area for new burials to help with the maintenance costs, and have received a grant to rebuild the front entrance. They are always looking for volunteers to help them maintain and preserve this wonderful resource. If you'd like more information on ways to help, or help with locating the burial site of a family member, please check out their website: LeeMissionCemetery.org.