Rufus Pioneer Cemetery - Sherman County, Oregon History

Rufus Pioneer Cemetery

Compiled by Sherry (Woods) Kaseberg
Rufus Pioneer Cemetery, 1965 Survey with Notes

This small cemetery on private property on the hill south of Rufus, T2N, R17E, SW ¼ of NE ¼, Section 6, offers a spectacular view of the Columbia River.

Gravestone inscriptions were recorded by Sherry Kaseberg in 1966. Additional information was contributed by Mattie McDonald, Harland McDonald, Tracy and Nellie Fields, Georgia (Striker) Klindworth, Bea Richelderfer, Giles L. French, Chris Sanders, Joseph W. Mee, Dora Mee and Mark Fields. It is estimated that as many as 60 graves may be in this cemetery, perhaps 40 in the east half.

A warranty deed filed for record October 2, 1906, shows that T.A Fowler (Thomas A. Fowler) et ux deeded to Sherman County in consideration of $6.00 the following described real estate: commencing at a rock at the North East corner of the Rufus cemetery running South eighty two (82) feet thence West twelve (12) feet thence North twelve (12) feet thence East twelve (12) feet thence South twelve (12) feet to place of beginning containing two burial lots numbers thirteen and fourteen all being and lying near the Northeast corner of the South West quarter (1/4) of the Northeast quarter (1/4) of Section Six (6) of Township Two N (2N) of range seventeen (17) E W M. Following the above directions, one concludes an error exists.

A description of the cemetery is found in a 1989 Quit Claim Deed between the United States of America General Services Administration and Charles W. and Ruth I. Athay, and Charles A. Athay and Michael G. Athay, joint tenants: “Excepting therefrom a tract of land described as commencing at a rock at the northeast corner of the Rufus Cemetery, thence south 82 feet to the true point of beginning; thence west 12 feet; thence north 12 feet; thence east 12 feet to the true point of beginning, containing two burial lots, numbers 13 and 14, conveyed to Sherman County, Oregon, by deed recorded in Volume L., page 569, on October 2, 1906.”

In 1997, Joe Mee took it upon himself to preserve this little cemetery. He determined that the size of the cemetery would be 100’ x 120’, as otherwise identified in a survey performed 29 October 1987 by Tenneson Engineering in The Dalles, without exact start and ending corners. Joe estimated the metes and bounds to the best of his ability and staked the corners for the fencing contractor. The Charles Athay family, recorded owners of the property, refused to respond to Joe Mee’s attempts to gain permission for fencing, and he proceeded without it. His grandmother, Daisy May Young Mee, is one of those buried there.  He established Pioneer Cemetery status with the State of Oregon.

In February 2000 Rufus Pioneer Cemetery was dedicated by Joseph Mee as a Pioneer Cemetery per House Bill 3378, regarding burial places with remains of one or more persons who died before February 14, 1909.  After a short dedication ceremony with Rufus Mayor Cliff Jett and Sherry Kaseberg, Joseph Mee installed the cemetery sign.  He paid for the construction of a 100’ x 120’ chain link fence around the Cemetery and installed a permanent marker and a sign on the fence to preserve this historic site, believing at the time that at least 16 persons are buried there. Ownership in 2017: Gorge Vista, LLC.

Site Key Icon Site Key

Surname

Name

Birth & Death

Notes

Amos Infant – Between 1894 & 1900 Child of Joseph S. and Jessie (McDonald) Amos [1900SCVR, Grant Precinct: Joseph S. Amos, 36, hardware dealer, born Canada, naturalized 1896, lived Section 31, T3N, R17E.]
Amos Infant – Between 1894 & 1900 Child of Joseph S. and Jessie (McDonald) Amos [TO 24 June 1904: J.S. Amos died Arizona, remains sent to Sherman County for burial, funeral at Wasco; GVJ, 24 June 1904: Funeral of J.S. Amos, who formerly resided at Rufus in this county, died in Arizona on June 17th. Deceased was a member of the Odd Fellows lodge at Wasco… and the Modoc Encampment No. 39 of Grass Valley.]
Buschke Infant The 1900 US Census, Rufus Precinct, Sherman County, OR shows 2 Buschke households, #39 with August and wife Alice and their children; and #41, Bernhard, wife Adelia, Elizabeth & Bernard. [1900SCVR: August T. Buschke 27, Bernard Buschke 36, & Julius M. Buschke 30, all German-born, all naturalized in Rush Co., KS 1880. Note: A Buschke purchased a lot in Sunrise Cemetery.]
Fowler Infant Son -1916 Child of Joseph Shelby and Mae (Fleck) Fowler [1930 US Census, Rufus Pct., Sherman County, OR: Shelby J. Fowler 49 wheat farmer born MO, wife May I. Fowler 44 born IA & hired man Norman Fleck 23 born OR; Nellie (Dingle) Fields 1984]
Fowler Infant Daughter -1906 Child of Joseph Shelby and Mae (Fleck) Fowler [WN: 12 October 1906: The infant babe of Mr. & Mrs. Shelby Fowler died the 6th near Grants, OR; Deed for gravesite: Fowler to Sherman County; Nellie (Dingle) Fields 1984]
 Graham Anna 1888-1918 Anna (Fowler) Graham, daughter of Thomas Armstrong and Alice (Bohannon) Fowler of Pettis County, MO and Sherman County, OR; m. Glenn Graham; mother of Paul Rubey Graham; cousin of Cora Fowler m. A.K. Stranahan, Joseph Shelby Fowler m. Mae Irene Fleck; died September 1918 Spokane, WA; metal wire fence around her grave [1910 U.S. Census, Portland, Multnomah County, OR: Thomas A. Fowler 75, wife Alice 56 and Anna E. 22, all born MO]
Mee Daisy Mae 17 May 1887-19 February 1907 Daughter of Alonzo and Mary Jane (Carmical, Weatherford) Young; m. Alfred Walter Mee at Rufus, OR; mother of Joseph Alonzo Mee; foster daughter Marjorie. Alfred Mee died at Walla Walla, WA 1953. [Lucky Mee, A Genealogy of the Mee Family by Joseph W. Mee 1977;1900SCVR: A. Young, farmer 75, Section 35, T2N, R17E; John A. Carmical, farmer 41; SC:FTR #8-1]
Moore James Not verified.
Striker Mildred Marie 24 December 1904-3 March 1905 Daughter of Arthur Thomas & Bessie L. (Hill) Striker; sister of Arthur LeRoy, Infant, Helene  who m. Juhnke & Georgia who m. Klindworth [Shirley Richelderfer; Georgia Klindworth; TO, 10 March 1905, burial was “at Brock schoolhouse settlement.”]
Striker Arthur LeRoy 28 February 1906-3 March 1906 Son of Arthur Thomas and Bessie L. (Hill); brother of Helene, Georgia, Mildred and Infant. [1900SCVR: Arthur T. Striker 22 and Simon Striker, 65; SC:FTR #2-1; 1930 US Census, Rufus Pct., Sherman County, OR: Arthur Striker 52, wife Bessie 48, daughter Georgia E. 19, and granddaughters Betty M. Juhnke 4 and Shirley A. Juhnke 3.]
Striker Infant Son 30 November 1903-30 November 1903 Son of Arthur Thomas and Bessie L. (Hill); brother of Helene, Georgia, Arthur LeRoy & Mildred.
Wallis Infant Child of Rufus and Effie (Fleck) Wallis; grandchild of Rufus C. and Mary E. (Burgen) Wallis, founders of Rufus. [1900SCVR: H.E. Wallis, ferryman 21, Rufus A. Wallis, farmer 25, Rufus C. Wallis, merchant 62.]
Weiseck Julius -12 August 1893 Came west to Walla Walla, WA before 1876, where his home burned causing the deaths of some of  his Medler relatives; son of Doris (Sense) Medler Weiseck who came west in 1881 after her husband, Julius’ father, died; brother of Albert Weiseck of NY; half-brother of Bruno, Frederick, John and Mollie Medler; died at Grant, between Biggs and Rufus, Sherman County, OR

Rufus area deaths – burial places unknown

Surname

Name

Birth & Death

Notes

Carleton Clifford 1896 Clifford, son of Emerson Carleton of Grant, drowned at Columbus (Maryhill), WA while swimming in the Columbia River. The body had not been found at press time. [MO, 6 August 1896]
Hall Frank 1 July 1899 Employee of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company killed by a train at DesChutes, Sherman County, OR [WN, 6 July 1899]
Unknown Unknown -1904  [WN, 21 October 1904; SCO, 21 October 1904: Suicide. A stranger in the county hung himself at the Rufus Hotel and was found by the landlady, Mrs. Harvey. No letters or personal effects on his body.]
Unknown Adult Male Farm laborer, burned to death on a nearby ranch.
Unknown Adult Burned in Grant hotel fire, transient, pauper [Joe Weatherford as told to Joseph Walter Mee]
Unknown Adult Burned in Grant hotel fire, transient, pauper [Joe Weatherford as told to Joseph Walter Mee]
Unknown Adult Burned in Grant hotel fire, transient, pauper [Joe Weatherford as told to Joseph Walter Mee]
Unknown Adult Male -1904 [WN, 16 February 1906: A man was found dead and torn to pieces along the railroad last week between Rufus and Grants. The real cause of his death is not known…is thought to have come over the (Columbia) river from the graders’ outfit and is thought to have had considerable money on his person. Coroner Logan was down from Moro and took charge of the remains.]
Wallis Adult Male -1908 Son of Rufus Wallis (Wallace in obit), an employee of the Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company as a brakeman 2-3 years, was run over by a train, taken to Walla Walla hospital where one leg was amputated at the knee and one foot taken off. Death resulted and the young man was buried at Rufus Tuesday. [TO, 21 August 1908]
Weatherford Christina 19 August 1855-13 February 1892 Daughter of Jasper and Mary Jane; died Rufus, OR (Carmical) Weatherford, born about 1874 MO; mother of Alta Rose. – Alta Rose born 13 February 1892 Rufus, OR; reared by Christina’s mother; appears in the 1900 census as Alta R. Young; m1 Andrew Ireland, mother of Thelma, Harold and Victor Ireland; m2 Hub Nichols; died 10 October 1974 Oroville, CA.

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