Elizabeth Potter joined us again to continue our conversation about Salem Pioneer Cemetery, one of two National Register cemeteries in Salem. Did you know there is a "language" of the icons carved on gravestones? Elisabeth educated us on this esoteric language as well as the art of headstone carving, for which Portland, Salem and Albany were once industry centers. Just as in any art, work of specific artists can be recognized and some were even signed.
Relating some of the stories of those buried in Pioneer Cemetery, Elisabeth advised that six of the 60 representatives at the original Oregon Constitutional Convention are interred here. She also highlighted a few local illustrious personages, as well, including: Benjamin Forstner, inventor of a an impressive woodmaking bit, the Forstner "webfoot augur," still in use today; John Minto, 1844 pioneer and explorer of Cascade Range passes, known for raising purebred sheep on his lands at the northern end of Minto Island, and the organizer of the first State Fair in 1861; Frederick Schwatka, a graduate of both West Point and Willamette University with medical and law degrees, known for his explorations of Alaska, the Yukon, and other arctic sites; Olive England-Enright, one of the first women graduates of Willamette Law School, was a suffragette in the early 1900s and instrumental in Oregon granting women the right to vote; Chloe Clark Willson, the first instructor at the Oregon Institute, the forerunner of Willamette University; Tabitha Moffatt Brown, founder of a school for orphaned settler children, now known as Pacific University, who was officially designated in 1987 as the Mother Figure of Oregon; several Oregon governors, one of whom served concurrently as both the governor and secretary of state; and Asahel Bush, founder of the Oregon Statesman newspaper and Ladd & Bush Bank.
The folks at Salem Pioneer Cemetery are rightfully proud of this cemetery and take their role in preserving history and educating us about those buried there seriously. They are most happy to help you discover something you never knew about someone buried there. You can also check out their website, Salem Pioneer Cemetery, for maps and more information on this local treasure.