17 June 2006

A Trip to Bellfountain

Bellfountain cemetery
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
After many far-flung road trips in recent weeks, I wanted somewhere relatively close to explore today. In a cubbyhole of my mind was a faded memory about Bellfountain, Oregon, and a family reunion held there over two decades ago. I remember my Dad rolling out a long sheet of colored butcher paper on the park picnic tables which traced the various family lines, and inviting everyone there to add to or clarify their information. I remember the requisite family photograph and a ball game with cousins I didn’t really know very well. So with Father’s Day this weekend, it seems apropos to pay tribute to a bit of family history.

Four miles off Highway 99 W in the corner of Benton County is the intersection that forms the hub of Bellfountain. The hill on the northeast corner proudly displays a well-kept community church. To the southeast is the Bellfountain Cornerstone Christian School, already at recess for the summer. On the southwest corner sits an abandoned, dilapidated storefront and two weed-encrusted gas pumps. Painted in script on the front of the pay station are the words, “Gone Fishing.” One gets the impression that this is a permanent fishing trip. To the west is the town park, the location of that family reunion so many years ago.

When I returned to Salem, I called my Dad to see how we were related to the names on the grave markers I had photographed. I should have called him prior to my trip. I didn’t realize that so much of his immediate family history is rooted in the rolling farmland around Bellfountain.

The community park sits on land that once was part of the Humphrey family farm. Over time, great-uncle George divvied up the land among his four sons. It’s where my grandfather, Eston Bruce Humphrey, and his father, Walter, were both born. Since then, it has changed hands outside of the family. The patch of hillside where the old cemetery is fenced off has a good clan of Humphrey men and their Perin wives resting underneath the douglas fir trees. It was a good reminder that I need to have more conversations like that with my Dad.

*The title is inspired by the 1985 film, The Trip to Bountiful, in which a woman in her twilight years yearns to return for one last visit to her childhood home in Bountiful, Texas. Geraldine Page was awarded an Academy Award for her work in the movie.


Heather said...

I like this new site!!
Nick would like to be included in your blog notifications:

houseband00 said...

Hi katherine,

You have such a wonderful blog. I find your insights most entertaining.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Hello Katherine, I grew up in Bellfountain and know your family.I went to school in that little school house. I'm currently living in New York,but hope to return soon.