While standing before the sign I looked around but couldn't find the headstones that would be associated with a pioneer cemetery or any cemetery for-that-matter. Cautiously, I walked up a small deer-like trail that led to the edge of a young forest with a makeshift worn fence boarding the deer trail. About half way up the fence line, a brand new gate stood, no older than a year, welcomed me, but still no sight of a cemetery. I opened and entered through the gate. The grassy trail led into the trees.
Mystery immediately shrouded over the cemetery...beyond the fact of being in a forest.
Cemetery records list J.H. Chandler birth as being July 11, 1881, but records don't list a death date...even though one is clearly carved on the headstone.
One possible explanation to the lack of his death date could be that most of the bottom half of the headstone of J.H. Chandler is buried and being engulfed by the roots of the nearby Douglas Fir tree. On my visit, I could clearly read, March 7. I wanted to know more, but felt it would be disrespectful to dig out enough debris to finish reading the year, then again, no one is here, but me...right?
(According to cemetery records, a baby...the daughter of Isaac Chandler is also suppose to be buried in this cemetery. But, the birth and death dates are unknown, and there wasno headstone to be found.)
In late December of 1913 and the beginning of 1914, Samuel W. and Carrie M. Shook, along with their 8 children, moved into the North Fork Valley of the Coquille River. A month later, on February 1st, their 18 year-old son Morgan H. drowned after falling out of a boat while fishing on the Coquille River.
One thing seemed obvious...Morgan was named after his uncle Henry. You following?
Something I observe while standing before the five headstones of the Shook family, was that the headstones belonging to both the son and uncle were the two largest and most decoratively engraved headstones of the five family members buried in the Gravelford Pioneer Cemetery.
One would think the parents headstones would be the largest and most decorative. In theory, since both the son and uncle died prior to the death of the woman of the house, being Mrs. Shook, one can assume that Mrs Shook was the one choosing the headstones for the two. Then when she died, Samuel Shook, the husband, most likely had the responsibility for his wife's headstone and might have taken a more financial approach to getting a smaller sized headstone for his wife.
According to Milo's death certificate, Milo C. Shook died at the age of 20 from Septicemia, or blood poisoning, after complications following a ruptured appendix.
The reason behind Milo's death really spoke to me on a personal level, for I had just recovered from a battle with Septicemia due to insect bites that got infected.
I'm assuming his surviving children were responsible for his headstone, because above the name, Samuel W. Shook, reads, "Father", an engraved parental title that is not listed above the headstone of their mothers name.
The Gravelford Pioneer Cemetery is a cemetery like no other that I have been to. To find headstones sharing the same burial space with a thriving forest, literally amazed me. Most graveyards are manicured in different levels. But, at the Gravelford Pioneer Cemetery the caretaker is nature itself, and for that alone made my journey into the depths of a darkened forest totally worth it.