10 September 2006

On a Country Road

Eugene Market
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
With summer quickly fading, I wanted to take advantage of the warm days and blue skies before the fading daylight and crisp air sweep in the approaching autumn. I had not visited the Eugene Saturday Market yet this season, and I was anxious to follow up on a conversation pointing me in the direction of the Oakhill Pioneer Cemetery. So today I set out for Lane County.

The Saturday Market in Eugene has a unique flavor all its own. Interested in a rune reading? Need the latest in tie-dyed fashions for your little one? Searching for one-of-kind jewelry or perhaps a wind chime for the back porch? Well, a stop at the market will satisfy all of those wishes. Fashion is certainly free-form here, and you’ll encounter a number of merchants and activists who are passionate about what they do.

At the adjacent farmers’ market I stop to pick up some fresh corn on the cob, button squash, and a sweet-smelling summer melon. After consuming a handmade tamale with chunks of potato and a prune nestled in the center, I leave the market to navigate the western reaches of Highway 126.

For the past several months, my dad and I have been on a mission to locate the grave marker of Ellen Hemenway Humphrey. So far, the search has taken me along country roads in Bellfountain, to the Oregon state archives and state library in Salem, and now to the small settlement of Veneta.

Established by John Bailey in 1850, the Oakhill Cemetery covers two sides of a small knoll within sight of the Fern Ridge Reservoir. It has become a resting place for many of the early pioneers who came out west via the Oregon Trail, including my great-great-great-grandfather, Ansel Asa Hemenway. At the crest of the hill bordering the gravel drive sits the marker for part of the Hemenway clan: patriarch Ansel, his wife Abigail, and one of their sons, Urban. After 110 years, signs of age and erosion are particularly evident on the north-facing side of the marker. Still decipherable, however, is a tender inscription:

Tis hard to break the tender cord
When love has bound the heart
Tis hard so hard to speak the words
Must we forever part

After a quiet walk through the cemetery rows, I leave with another piece of the family puzzle in place.

1 comment:

Joannah said...

Wow! What an amazing find. I love family history.

Your talk of driving down a country road stirs something in me, because I'd love to do the same thing. However, do you know how many hours I would have to drive until I was in a place that would have a country road? Two or three. I'm stuck in urban sprawl...