The Archaeology of a Pioneer Family Cemetery in Western Oregon, 1854–1879

Luper Cemetery

Publication: Historical Archaeology, Vol. 44, No. 4

Author: Thomas Connolly, Christopher Ruiz et al.

Date of Publication: 2010

PDF File: Connolly-et-al.-2010-The-Archaeology-of-a-Pioneer-Family-Cemetery-in-We.pdf



A forgotten late-19th-century cemetery (ca. 1854-1879) with 12 graves was discovered in early 2008 during a construction project in western Oregon. Eight graves had been previously opened during a 1901 disinterment, but four remained intact. All provided information on burial patterns during the decades following American settlement of the Willamette Valley by Oregon Trail pioneers. Although the timeline is both slightly delayed and compressed, trends in burial ornamentation and hardware generally follow those noted in American cemeter ies in the East. The unadorned graves of the 1850s are most similar to those of earlier decades on the eastern seaboard. By the end of the 1870s, rail lines had been built through the Willamette Valley, and within a few years the valley was linked to a growing national rail network. A relative imme diacy of bicoastal contact was achieved at this time, allowing a measure of synchronicity in funerary trends.