Over the years the Jacksonville Cemetery
has grown in size with most Sections adding to their property
at one time or another. Some of Oregon's earliest pioneers
can be found resting under the canopy of the Madrones, in
Jacksonville's Pioneer Cemetery.
There are many wonderful and interesting
stories of those buried in the cemetery. Pioneers, men, women
and children who made their way to Oregon, leaving behind
their homes, most belongings, family and friends. It was a
very difficult trip and was not an easy life after arriving
at their destination. Most found a better life and some even
became quite wealthy. There are farmers, ranchers, merchants,
lawyers, judges, woodworkers and builders, doctors, teachers,
newspaper editors, men of the church, and then there are the
children. Hundreds of infants and young children buried throughout
the cemetery whose life was cut short during birth, accidents,
illness and epidemics. There are also over 350 Veterans buried
in the cemetery with the oldest dating back to the war of
We also have those who could not afford
to purchase a grave site or because of color or their nationality
were not permitted to, they were buried in the County Section.
This later became known as the Potter's Field.
Today, no matter who they were or where
they are buried, all receive the same respect, care and attention
from the Cemetery Sexton and our cemetery volunteers.
Below is just a sampling of some of the
many stories waiting to be shared by the Jacksonville's Pioneers,
who take a well deserved rest in Jacksonville's Historic Cemetery.
Jacob Ish - Born June 5, 1823, in
Hillsborough, Loudoun County, Virginia and died on March 3,
1881, at the Ish Ranch, located about three miles from Jacksonville,
Oregon. In 1860, wanting to escape the havoc threatened by
the approaching Civil War, Jacob, sold his estates and slaves
and along with his wife Eleanor (Ellen) Jones Ish, traveled
to Oregon. His three bothers left Virginia and came west as
well. Jacob purchased 320 acres of land just outside Jacksonville
and started a ranch. He later bought an additional 320 acres
giving him 640 acres in the heart of the Rogue River Valley.
Jacob and Eleanor's only child, Sophenia, was born at the
Ish ranch in 1864. Jacob continued to add to his land holdings
and eventually became one of the largest land owners in Jackson
County, with over 5,000 acres. The Ish ranch soon "became
known far and wide for its broad fertile acres, sturdy stock,
and immaculately maintained buildings." Ish found it extremely
profitable to furnish supplies for government troops stationed
at Fort Klamath and to the stagecoach stations along the road
from Grants Pass to San Francisco. He also invested in mining
and in swamp land, which he purchased through his brother
William. Eleanor Ish died on July 29, 1877, from cancer. Her
sister Sarah Elizabeth Jones, who was coming from Virginia
to care for Eleanor, arrived on August 14, 1877. As Jacob
was left to raise both his daughter, and a niece Phenie Ish,
Sarah stayed on to help. She and Jacob were later married
on October 7, 1878. Following Jacob's death in 1881 Sarah
continued to manage the Ish ranch until her death in 1906.
She was one of the wealthiest women in the county and was
said to be a "woman of strong character and rare business
The Ish Family is buried in Block 390 of the IOOF Section of the Jacksonville Cemetery.
William Green T'Vault - Born March
23, 1809 on board a ship as his parents emigrated from France
to the United States. Died in 1869, reportedly the last victim
of the smallpox epidemic of 1868-1869 in Jacksonville. His
family eventually settled in Indiana where William spent his
boyhood and later received his legal training. He practiced
law in Boonesville, Indiana, and served in the state legislature.
He married Rhoda Boone Burns, granddaughter of famous trapper
and hunter Daniel Boone. In 1845 T'Vault, his wife, two daughters,
and young son started their westward journey to Oregon. They
joined a company of "66 wagons and 293 persons" traveling
the Oregon Trail from St. Joseph, Missouri, on a trip that
would take eight long, hard, and difficult months to reach
Oregon. He first settled in Oregon City and set up a law practice.
Later, with the help of three fellow members of the Pioneer
Lyceum and Literary Club, formed the Oregon Printing Association,
the first printing and publishing company west of the Rocky
Mountains. The Association started the Oregon Spectator, Oregon's
first newspaper. In 1852, T'Vault moved his family to the
Rogue River Valley, settling on a 640 acre donation land claim,
which he named Dardanelles. His acreage, located on the Rogue
River, was reportedly the first farm settled in the valley.
In 1855, T'Vault decided to reenter the newspaper business
and established The Table Rock Sentinel (renamed the Oregon
Sentinel in 1859), the first newspaper printed in Southern
Oregon. The first edition appeared in Jacksonville on November
24, 1855, with the stated policy of "being independent on
all subjects, and devoted to the best interests of Southern
Oregon." T'Vault resumed his law practice in 1858. That same
year he was elected to the Oregon provisional legislature
and became speaker of the house at the 1859 session. At the
time of his death, he held the position of District Attorney
of the 1st Judicial District. His obituary lamented, "It is
painful to reflect that after a busy life and prominent services
he should be struck down by so dreadful a malady that not
a single mourner dared follow him to his grave."
The T’Vaults are buried in Block 243 of the City Section of the Jacksonville Cemetery
Little Sylvester Wait – Died December 14, 1859 Age 1 year 6 months and 21 days
Sadly, his burial was one of the first, in the newly opened cemetery, in December of 1859. Like many of the lonely children’s gravesites that can be found throughout the cemetery grounds, children died and families moved on. Sylvester’s father, Sylvester Mather Wait was a drover, raising cattle and marketed them by driving them to the gold fields in California. In 1855 he built the first flour mill in Southern Oregon at what is now Phoenix (then referred to as Gasburg or Wait’s Mill). He hauled his flour by freight wagon with oxen and horses to points as far away as San Francisco for a market. Mr. Wait was a member of the Jacksonville Masonic Lodge and was later one of the charter members of the Phoenix Lodge No. 23. Sometime after 1862, the Wait family moved to Walla Walla County in the Washington Territory where he started a flour mill near the present town of Waitsburg which honors his name.
Sylvester Wait is buried in Block 326 of the Masonic Section of the Jacksonville Cemetery and is cared for by volunteers.