I was recently contacted about doing an interview for the premier issue of a new Horror ezine, Grim Reader, to promote the upcoming release of my novel, “Demonology: Book of Gabriel” (Yes, that’s my shameless plug). As they wanted a picture for the article, it seemed like the perfect excuse to go cemetery creeping in a cool old mossy graveyard and hopefully get a nice photo of yours truly perched on a tombstone.
So on a beautiful Portland afternoon (which translates into clouds and some sun, but no downpours), my Darling Mark took me to the oldest boneyard in Portland, the Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery. Armed with his camera and a couple of iPhones, we went tromping around the muddy grounds looking for a backdrop.
Lone Fir was established in 1854 when Colburn Barrell bought a hunk of land from J. B. Stephens. As part of the deal, Barrell agreed to maintain the plot of land on the grounds where Stephens’ father was buried. That became the Lone Fir Cemetery, named after the one standing tree on the property. You can read more about the history on their website.
As you can see from the pictures, the lone fir is not alone anymore. In fact, the cemetery has a lush, forest-like setting with huge old trees everywhere. Chestnuts, Firs, cedars and elms tower above dogwoods and willows. As we were walking along, I caught sight of a tree that was prominently featured in a nightmare I had two nights before. Creepy. We found the graveyard’s namesake – it’s a huge Douglas fir emblazoned with a plaque.
We weren’t exactly on a ghost-hunting mission, so we didn’t bring along anything to track paranormal activity. I wasn’t even paying much attention to my normal ghostly “spidey-sense”. However, as we passed the grave of Millie Harris, I got such an incredibly strong sense of sadness that I couldn’t ignore it. The grave was a simple stone headstone set into the grass, half-obscured by mud and vegetation. Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary, except that when I got close I wanted to cry. Beyond that one singular experience, the overall feeling I had of Lone Fir was peaceful and quiet and sleepy.
You can’t go to a cemetery on a nice day without playing the “oldest resident” game. My Darling thought he had found him when he spotted a marker with a birth year of 1798. However, a few minutes later, I found Jesse Tryon, born in 1790. My Darling informed me that when Jesse was born, George Washington was President and there were still only 13 stars on the flag. Jesse would have been one of the transplants to Lone Fir – he died in 1850 – a good four years before the cemetery existed.
As I’ve said before, no decent graveyard is without its resident celebrity, and Lone Fir is no exception. Asa Lovejoy, the founder of Portland resides there, as well as the founding members who lent their names to the city streets: Sellwood, Burnside, Hawthorne, Stark. George Bottler, appropriately the founder of the second oldest brewery in Portland, is in a beautiful but decaying mausoleum (which happens to be the oldest structure on the property). They need help restoring it, so send them a few bucks if you can.
Twilight fans will recognize the name Cullen – however, the Cullen interred here is no vampire. She was the last survivor of the famous Applegate Wagontrain, which started the wave of immigration to Oregon from the east.
When we got home that night we were reminded of the importance of psychic protection, even in a place as old as Lone Fir. As we were going to bed, I was suddenly aware of a familiar energy – the same sadness that I had felt standing at Millie’s grave. I realized that we were not alone – something had followed us from the graveyard. This can occasionally happen if you don’t make a point to have your psychic defenses up – something we had both forgotten to do. My Darling lit some sage and smudged the house. When he got to the kitchen, the dog next door started barking like crazy, but the entity was gone.