When you first discover the Mosier Pioneer Cemetery after walking up the footpath from town towards the Pocket Park, it is easy to imagine that you are the first person to visit this place in many years. The sunlight falls gently here through the old oaks and pines. Native wildflowers mix with the lilacs and the purple-flowered vinca brought by the pioneers. Moss and lichen color the old headstones green and yellow. To the south, Mosier Creek Falls cascades 100 feet down from the local swimming hole. To the north, the basalt walls of the Syncline rise powerfully up from the Columbia River.
The Mosier Pioneer Cemetery most likely began as a family cemetery after Jane Mosier died in 1865. The Mosier Pioneer Cemetery later became the burial ground for friends and relatives of the Mosiers such as the Dunsmores, Huskeys, Prathers, Reynolds, Phillips, and Evans families. The last known burial that occurred in the cemetery historically was the granddaughter of the Mosiers, Mildred Phillips, who died in December 1901. After the Mosier Independent Order of Odd Fellow (IOOF) cemetery was established in 1882 on State Road, many of the early Mosier settlers were buried at the “new” cemetery. This cemetery was founded by the Mosier IOOF Lodge to serve the growing community of Mosier.
Although little is known about the physical development of the MPC, it appears that early wagon roads to the cemetery may have extended north from the State Road and south from the original wagon road to The Dalles. Early survey maps from 1859-60, show Mosier’s Donation Land Claim but do not denote the cemetery because the map predates the first known burial. The cemetery was built on the eastern side of the DLC on a hillside overlooking Mosier Creek and the Mosier family land. This location would have been an appropriate place for a cemetery with its vistas above the river and creek, where there was no chance of flooding. Additional research in the deeds will most likely uncover some information about the cemetery, especially when the cemetery was transferred from the Mosier family in the early 1900s, and the East Mosier Plat was filed in 1913. This map delineates the cemetery boundary at the southwest of East Mosier.
The plat map shows East Mosier lots with a railroad right-ofway wrapping around the bluff and subdivision. This right-of-way may account for the triangular piece of land being taken out of the southwestcorner of the cemetery. This railroad was never built. Although inconclusive, the road to the cemetery post-1900 may have been located on the south side of the Columbia River Highway, east of the Mosier Bridge or accessed from East 2nd Street (Kingdom Avenue on 1913 plat) and High Street. Unfortunately, early aerial photographs do not show much information about the site. Faint lines indicate possible roads or fences around the cemetery. The hilltop overlooking Mosier was coined “Graveyard Hill” by many Mosier residents.
Mildred Phillips, Jonah Mosier’s granddaughter, was the last person to be buried in the Mosier Pioneer Cemetery for over 100 years.
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