Susan (Susannah) McCord Coon

Susan (Susannah) McCord Coon
Pershing County, Nevada


Susan (Susannah) McCord Coon, wife of Isaac Coon, died from the complications of childbirth at this site on August 11, 1860, while on the way to California from Coles County, Illinois. The child, Robert E. Coon, born on August 9, survived and was taken on to California by his father, with the aid of other members of the party.

grave site of Susan Coon with broken marker and OCTA sign
Susan Coon gravesite

OCTA marked this grave in the summer of 1989 and a monument has also been erected by her descendants. Susan, aged forty, went into labor at Antelope Springs but her health and stamina were giving out. The baby — Susan’s eighth child and fourth son — was born on August 9, 1860, and Susan died two days later. Susan’s niece, Frances (Coon) Duffield, was eleven years old and present when Susan died. She later stated on a number of occasions that Susan should not have died, but the men in the wagon train were so anxious to move on that the women wrapped Susan in a cold wet sheet to stop the flow of blood. She became chilled, developed “galloping pneumonia,” and died quickly.

Frank Dunn, a stonecutter traveling with the wagon train, spent the night carving the original headstone from native rock. An additional grave marker has been subsequently placed by Susan’s descendants. This is one of the very few emigrant graves along the overland trails with its original headstone.

Years ago, vandals broke the original headstone which had been placed on Susan Coon’s grave. Only half of the original headstone remains.


The grave is located on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management approximately twenty miles west of Imlay, Nevada. Take exit 145, “Imlay,” off of I-80. Pass under the freeway toward Imlay and go west on the frontage road. One mile from Imlay, turn north onto the Imlay-Sulfur gravel road. Follow this for six miles until you cross the Humboldt River on the Callahan Bridge. You are now in the Lassen’s Meadow area, where emigrants camped and refreshed their animals. Proceed 13.7 miles farther on the gravel road, to a branch. Take the left branch. Proceed 1.5 miles and turn left onto a very rough two-track road. Continue (SLOWLY!) for another 1.3 miles to a small turnaround. Antelope Spring is directly ahead, in the ravine. The Susan Coon grave is up the hill to the left of the turn-around area, in a clump of small trees and bushes. High clearance vehicles are recommended!


Source: Randy Brown and Reg Duffin, Graves and Sites on the Oregon and California Trails, OCTA, 2nd edition, 1998, pp 118-119

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