According to the online database, Find-A-Grave, Coos County has 99 documented cemeteries, but not all are open to the public. Most of them are on private property or private family cemeteries, while others don't visually exist with headstones anymore, but the graves are still there.
#1 ~Lakeside Pioneer Cemetery~
The Lakeside Pioneer cemetery is one that has the most extraordinary character of any cemetery in Coos County. It is not uncommon to find the living not only bringing memorial flowers to their loved one, but also a plethora of gifts and trinkets ranging from hot wheel cars, rosary beads and stuffed animals, to an alarm clock, magazines, cigarettes and a camping lantern. During specific holidays like Christmas, Halloween and Easter, several graves are decorated accordingly.
#2 ~Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery~
The most striking characteristic feature found in the Lakeside Pioneer Cemetery is the layout. Not only are the graves buried in dune sand, but a forest of Shore Pines, and Salal, Huckleberry and Manzanita have encroached on the area. Beds of bright green moss dominate the sandy ground like soft carpet. Unlike the traditional cemeteries where the headstones are seen in rows, to visit each individual grave, you must journey and weave through sandy paths surrounded by a mix of the coastal brush.
The experience alone is worth checking out this cemetery that has a lot of character.
The Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery has one of the best examples of preserved historic architecture with a variety of headstones ranging from marble, granite, and even cast iron. The artistic delicate detail found in the cemetery is impressive. This cemetery also has the largest collection of curbing, a process used to surround the grave or plot. Such curbing helped get the cemetery recognized and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, along with the historic importance as the resting place of many of the people who were responsible for the making of Coos Bay, North Bend, and Coos County. Most likely, you'll find the last names of people to which many streets in Coos Bay, and buildings are named after.
According to the cemetery's caretaker, Cricket Soules, there are a few unusual occurrences that are on going at the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery. One story goes, some years ago a small plastic Pegasus toy horse was left at the headstone of a child. Soon after, the Pegasus toy disappeared, so it was thought. But, eventually it would show up on another child's headstone, then disappear again, to only show up somewhere else in the cemetery. To this day, the Pegasus toy still moves around the cemetery. After a thorough search the mystery horse was once again discovered next to a child's grave.
In the north east corner of the cemetery, you'll discover three unique headstones worth checking out. First, is the headstone belonging to a Miss Ethel Jane Galbraith. She died in August of 1906 when she drowned...while bathing...in the Coos River near Allegany. Now why the words, "while bathing" were permanently chiseled into a large beautiful red slab of polished marble is a mystery, but the way she drowned was important enough for her loved ones let everyone know just exactly how she drowned.
Second, not far from Miss Ethel Jane, you'll find the double headstone belonging to siblings Clyde and Erma Young. Clyde died at age 2 in 1883 and Erma died at the age of 1 in 1886. Both death dates are older than the establishment of the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery in 1891. They were most likely moved from another burial place and re-interred in the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery when other siblings were buried there in December 1889. Within less than a month's time after Clyde and Erma, died from diphtheria, their mother Ella died from heart failure...or a broken heart. Her resting place is next to Clyde and Erma in an unmarked grave.
Third, not far from Erma and Clyde, you'll find the resting place for Abraham Lincoln. Who knew Abraham Lincoln was buried in Coos County!
Well, this Lincoln was not the U.S. President, but nonetheless, his name is that of the same of the historic President.
The Abraham Lincoln in the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery was the son of Parker and Mary Butler. Abraham died in a drowning accident in 1869 at the age of 3. His body was never located.
Four years later, Abraham's father was lost at sea in a shipping accident.
Upon investigation, Cricket discovered that sea gulls were the culprit. They would swoop into the cemetery during the early morning hours and peck at the red colored flowers. It is believed that the sea gulls are associating the proximity of the High School to food when student leave their trash on the ground. Candy wrappers or chip bags are often red in color. They are seeking out food. Once they discover the red flowers are not a tasty treat, they move to another grave site with red flowers.
From the historic 1910 ship wreck of the Czarina with only one survivor out of twenty-four on board, six of them are buried in an unmarked section of the cemetery. Not all six were positively identified...to the death of Chief Daloose Jackson in 1907, a native Coos Indian who spoke the Hanis language, and lived peacefully among the white people despite his experiences with white people, and up until recently had an unmarked grave...there is a lot of local history revealed in the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery.
#3 ~Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery~
If only a headstone could talk, what would it say? Several headstones "do talk" in the form of an epitaph or inscription. Some epitaph are long, while others are short and to the point like this one found on a very elaborate headstone belonging to Mary A. Stambone who died in 1918. The epitaph reads, "May She Rest In Peace"
Or this simple stone that reads, "At Rest"
Put to rest in the Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery is one of Coos County's most famous individuals. His name was Steve Prefontaine, known as "Pre". Steve was an American middle and long-distance runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics. He was a champion runner who held the American record in seven different distance track events.
On May 30th, 1975, at the age of 24, Steve tragically died in a single car wreck when he ran his car into a rock wall. As a result, the cause of death was determined to be alcohol-related. An unfortunate, tragic death taking a life far to soon. Steve Prefontaine's headstone is the only upright headstone in the section in which he is buried at Sunset Memorial Park. His grave is visited by thousands each year.
Today, the Sunset Memorial Park is mostly a "lawn" cemetery, with a few exceptions. A lawn cemetery is when the headstones lay flat, and make it easier for lawn mowing and maintenance. Though most, who don't have a loved one buried here, find such a cemetery boring or not attractive, one must get out and walk the grounds to discover the hidden flat beauty. It is amazing what you can discover.
#4 ~Coos River "Pioneer" Cemetery~
Most likely the most prominent Coos County resident buried in the Coos River Pioneer Cemetery is the Horsfall Family.
When the Horsfalls arrived on the south coast in 1889 as missionaries, they found no permanent church buildings in the 2,400 square miles district. The Rev. William Horsfall served as missionary and Dean of the Southern Convocation from 1889-1918.
William taught school along the Kentuck Inlet before beginning medical studies. After graduating with a degree medical practice, He returned to Coos Bay in January 1893 and served as a doctor there for the next 64 years. He was one of the genuine old-time pioneer doctors, delivering over 1000 babies. He was on-call day and night and traveled on horseback, by boat or on foot, lantern in hand.
Dr. William married Lydia Eliza Yoakam on April 7, 1896 in a ceremony officiated by his father. The Yoakam family is also buried in this cemetery.
The cemetery has a great mix of different styles of headstones ranging from the large granite cross, belonging to the Horsfall family, to the well preserved decorative headstone throughout. You'll find several "lawn" style headstones, a few small statues and even a couple of delicate and rarely seen wooden headstones found in Coos County.
Even though the Coos River Pioneer Cemetery is still used today, the forces of nature have not been so kind to it resting inhabitants. Ground settling has been a huge problem in some sections of the cemetery. Headstones are tilting left and right, and eventually, gravity will win. There is also a huge infestation of non-native European Ivy that keeps encroaching into the cemetery. Unless measures are taken to preserve such a historic site, nature will win.
#5 ~Fairview Cemetery~
Edward Neely died in 1898 at the age of 63. He and his family lived in the Fairview area working as Farmers. They Farmed in a time when life was much harder than it is today.
Edward and much of his family are buried at the Fairview Cemetery, atop a hillside over looking the valley. A beautiful, peaceful and well kept pioneer cemetery. All of Neely's family and relatives have very nice gravestones.
The Fairview Cemetery has unofficially been the destination cemetery used for the "John & Jane Doe's" in the county. It has been told that the "John Doe" cemetery started back in the 1950's when a young man was found dead in the woods not far from Fairview. His cause of death was never determined, and no one claimed his body. He was buried in an unmarked grave under a tree. A few residence of Fairview know which tree he is buried under, but to a passing visitor, they'd never know. Several other "unknown's" have been buried in the Fairview Cemetery.
#6 ~Bullards Family Cemetery~
Robert W. Bullard, for whom the bridge is named, migrated to Coos County from Iowa, in 1877. In 1882 Bullard established a general store and ferry crossing that operated from the north bank of the Coquille River.
Today, the only visible trace of any sort of working community once existing in this area is the diminutive cemetery bearing the thirteen gravestones of three related pioneer families. Robert Bullard is buried here along with his wife, Malinda, a descendant of the Hamblocks and Longs, two of their six children, and other relatives.
#7 ~Norway "Pioneer" Cemetery~
The Norway Cemetery resides on a steep grassy hillside surrounded by a forest of Douglas Fir, Hemlock, and the rare Myrtlewood. This is not a cemetery for the weak of knees. The hill is steep and sliding or falling is common. Lawn mowing maintenance is tricky with such steep slopes, but the cemetery is kept up nicely.
Several names that played huge rolls in the development of the towns throughout the Coquille River Valley can be found throughout the cemetery grounds.
#8 ~Gravelford Pioneer Cemetery~
To gain a sense of the harsh reality of what life was like in the county-side in the 1920's, then this cemetery will reveal such struggles, and accidents, and hardships.
The dominate families in the cemetery are the Hobson's, Bright's and Shook's. All these families struggled with unexpected losses.
James Hobson died from a cerebral hemorrhage due to a gun shot wound, Members of the Bright family died from pneumonia and apoplexy; Morgan Shook died from drowning, Milo Shook died from blood poisoning and Carrie Shook died of chronic valvular heart disease.
Life on the farm was not easy and these families are witness to such hardships.