Established in 1890, the Medford I.O.O.F./Eastwood Cemetery is significant for its association with the earliest period of settlement and development of Medford and is one of several established by the fraternal organization in Oregon. Its period of historical significance comprises the years 1890 to 1915.
The I.O.O.F. Lodge bought the land, twenty and 22/100 acres of the William Barneburg Donation Land Claim, for $700 from Frederick and Electa Barneburg. Located on a prominent oak-studded hillside, approximately one mile east of the downtown, the site offered an attractive and practical location for a cemetery. The Barneburg family had previously interred two family members on the hillside in 1878 and 1883.
In the late 1960's, the Medford I.O.O.F. Lodge acknowledged their declining membership and depleted funds and asked the City and County to operate the cemetery. In 1969 the County passed a resolution of intent showing that they were agreeable to assuming joint responsibility of the cemetery, but at that time State law would not allow the County to expend funds for operating cemeteries.
On December 16, 1969, the I.O.O.F. Lodge and the City signed an agreement stating the Lodge would operate the cemetery until their funds were exhausted and then transfer ownership to the City.
In March of 1971, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation permitting the County to join the City in the cemetery operation, and in January of 1972 official cemetery ownership came into City hands. The County participated for two years and then dropped out, leaving total responsibility to the City. Supervision functioned smoothly until 1983 when declining City revenues and slashed budgets resulted in limited care.
In 1986 a fervent effort by a small group of devoted citizens pressed the City to increase maintenance levels. Partial funding was restored for fiscal year 1987-88 and care of the cemetery by the City continues.
In 1988, the City applied to the State of Oregon Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation and received a favorable recommendation for recognition. The City received notification on March 16, 1989 from the Department of the Interior that the property was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
Cities all over the country are now beginning to recognize the valuable role that pioneer cemeteries play in urban settings. They provide open space and serve as buffers within the city, as well as outdoor museums.
The I.O.O.F. Cemetery reveals the City's past development in two highly visible ways. Medford, which once looked east toward the place its dead were buried, now envelops that place. Visitors to the cemetery can view not only early burial ground and markers, but can visualize the original appearance of the land at the time of settlement.
The cemetery contains markers carved by several accomplished area stone carvers, an all but lost traditional art form. James Carr Whipp, proprietor of the Jacksonville Marble Works, has several representative stones there. Whipp's markers are found in several locations throughout the region and the State. He also executed stone work on the Oregonian Building, Portland Hotel and Tillamook Lighthouse. He came to southern Oregon in 1883 to work on the Jackson County Court House in Jacksonville.
The stained glass window in the mausoleum is credited to the Povey Brothers of Portland. This firm is the largest and oldest business of ornamental stained glass windows in the Northwest. Their glass is hand painted and then burned, making the coloring indestructible. Restoration of the window took place in 1990, with financial assistance from the Southern Oregon Historical Society.
The cemetery remains a unique part of Medford's history and continues to sell plots and crypts at very reasonable rates; burials occur throughout the year. Information on plot costs may be obtained by calling (541) 774-2400.
A donation or bequest to the Cemetery is tax deductible, and may go towards planting a tree or maintenance.
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This document is a lesson plan for third and fourth grade elementary students. The project was funded by the Jackson County Historic Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This body of work was completed by Kay Atwood, and we are very grateful for her hard work which will benefit youth for years.