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Winemakers Investment Properties LLC
Gravemarker bases.
Gravemaker bases.
When vineyard manager Ken Johnston was looking into some Waldo Hills property off Howell Prairie Road, he heard that there had been a cemetery on the land someplace. The property, ripe with significant Oregon history, was owned by Daniel Waldo.  
 
Waldo was an early Oregon Trail settler. He spent time at Jason Lee’s Willamette Mission before settling on the property where the vineyard grows today. Waldo served as judge for Oregon’s provisional government prior to statehood, so many significant discussions and decisions took place on the property.
 
As the vineyard owned by Winemakers Investment Properties, LLC, was being planted a cluster of three headstone bases were discovered. Work stopped and the company chose to plant around the area, giving it a wide boundary.
 
Kuri Gill, Oregon Historic Cemeteries program coordinator, was thrilled to hear about the discovery and decision to preserve the cemetery site.
 
“This is just the kind of action we hope property owners will take when they make such a discovery,” she said. “The ideal situation is for historic cemeteries to be documented and preserved in their original locations.”
 
Based on their actions, Heritage Programs of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which houses the Historic Cemeteries Program, has presented Ken Johnston and Winemakers Investment Properties, LLC with an Oregon Heritage Stewardship Certificate.
 
Johnston is taking the preservation effort a step further by working with the Aumsville Historical Society, Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers, the Willamette Heritage Center, descendants of the Waldo family, and the Historic Cemeteries program to conduct further research and enhance the spot with a fence and historically related plantings.
 
There is some debate about who is interred at the site, but the burials may include some of the Waldo family children, a black man named Drake and George Beale who was hanged for murder in 1865.
 
While there are plans to enhance the cemetery, the property is not open to the public. As a working farm, safety is a concern. The cemetery may be accessed by making an appointment with the property manager.
 
The Heritage Stewardship Recognition Program was initiated by Heritage Programs of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to raise the profile of Oregonians who go the extra mile in protecting the state’s heritage. “We are happy to recognize people doing good deeds for historic resources in the state,” said Roger Roper, who heads up Heritage Programs.
 
For more information visit www.oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill at Kuri.Gill@state.or.us and (503) 986-0685. ###


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