The St. Paul Cemetery Wall of Remembrance

St. Paul

On Memorial Day, May 30, 2005, the St. Paul Cemetery Association and the St. Paul Mission Historical Society invited the public to attend the dedication of a Wall of Remembrance at the Pioneer Cemetery in St. Paul, Oregon. The cemetery was established in 1839, and the Wall of Remembrance honors the 535 early settlers and Native Americans who were buried there.

Honored guests included the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. Presenters from Grand Ronde included Kathryn Harrison, Tribal Elder, Maria Ramirez, Tribal Youth, and the CTGR Drum Group. Other presenters included Rev. Charles Borho, Pastor of the St. Paul Church.

The Pioneer Cemetery is located on Main St./Hwy. 219 in St. Paul.

St. Paul is in the heart of Oregon's French Prairie. The first settlement by Europeans occurred when the Hudson Bay Company sent French Canadian trappers to establish a trading post at Champoeg. The woods and prairies were the home of many Native American tribes including the Clackamas, Molalla and Kalapuya. The French Canadians married the daughters of the tribes and created an unique community.

In later years, the French-Canadian employees of the fur companies retired and began to settle on the free lands. The earliest farmsteads dating to 1828 lay along the bottomlands of the Willamette River, and the greatest concentration were clustered around St. Paul.

In the Pioneer Cemetery lie the bodies of Francois Rivet and Philippe Degre. They claimed to be members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Rivet died in 1852 at age 95. Degre died in 1847 at age 108.

In the new cemetery, just a stone's throw away, lies Archbishop Francis Norbet Blanchet, first Catholic Missionary to the Pacific Northwest and the priest who once had responsibility for all Catholic churches west of the Mississippi. Blanchet figures prominently in the early history of French Prairie and took the leadership role in forming the coalition of Americans and French-Canadian/Metis who helped successfully launch Oregon's provisional government. The Catholic Church he helped build still stands in St. Paul and still is used for Mass. Its congregation is proud of the fact that the church building is the oldest brick building in the Pacific Northwest, older than the Oregon Trail itself.

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