mount union cemetery
Mount Union Cemetery was founded by Reuben Shipley (1799-1873), a Black pioneer & former slave from Missouri, who bought his freedom by driving a team of oxen out to Oregon. After saving up $1500, he purchased a farm that would eventually become the site of the Mt. Union cemetery & school. In 1861, Shipley donated two acres of his farm to become the cemetery, with the understanding that he would be buried there. Today, Mt. Union Cemetery is the resting place for Reuben Shipley & many other Benton County pioneers.
(It’s kind of a big deal.)
On June 12, 2012 my love & I went to Mt. Union Cemetery with a purple plastic water bottle full of lemonade & vodka. We met a dog; I took photos of Caroline making silly faces; we watched the sunset. In past years at Mt. Union, I’ve come out to old boyfriends over tallboys of miller high life; I’ve cried & looked at the full moon on my 18th birthday; I’ve put up lawn chairs with my dad & watched Fourth of July fireworks from four different towns explode on the distant horizon.
It’s a such a relief, sometimes, to not be alone here. To be surrounded by people who also did this- who were alive, who survived, until they didn’t. Though the path my life will take is a complete mystery to me, it is a mystery that repeats itself. Others have faced down the unknown & carved lives from it. I’m so grateful to the people who made this world what it is. I am reminded to be grateful for this life, while I have it.