Residents may know where the Beavercreek Memorial Cemetery on Kamrath Road is, but perhaps not how it came to be. Laura McKay, the Cemetery’s secretary/treasurer and general record keeper, shared with us its history as well as ways the community could help preserve one of the Hamlet’s historic treasures.
Laura’s husband Cecil McKay, Jr. and his sister Marilyn McKay Bender are descendants of Mr. Elias Edwards who donated the original acreage for the cemetery. Laura took us back to the 1800s when “family lore says that little Johnny Hughes died from eating too many green apples, and Great Grandpa Elias Edwards gave an acre of land to provide a place to bury Johnny, thus starting a community cemetery.”
However, some time after Johnny’s funeral it was discovered that the grave had been dug on the wrong side of the property line, and Johnny wasn’t actually buried in the land that had been donated by Edwards. It turns out the cemetery was located on land belonging to Mr. Thomas Daniels, which adjoined the property. When the error was discovered, Mr. and Mrs. Daniels graciously agreed to donate that acre of land. “This is why there’s a curve in Kamrath Road at the Cemetery to this day!” said Laura.
Mr. Elias Edwards died a few months later and is the second person to be buried there.
Marilyn McKay Bender is the Cemetery’s vice president of the board of directors, and she and Cecil McKay, Jr. have a “deeply ingrained spark of responsibility” for the Cemetery, says Laura. It has been designated a “historic cemetery” by the State of Oregon and is one of the last privately held cemeteries in Clackamas County, which means it is not maintained by the city or county. Thus, it is in need of volunteers to help preserve its historical integrity. There are several ways to help maintain the property and the Cemetery welcomes anyone who is interested in helping by serving on the Board, providing legal advice, or helping to pick up trash, fallen limbs, and dead bouquet materials (vases, cans, deteriorated tokens, etcetera). “We also are in desperate need of volunteers to learn how to mark grave sites when a new burial is necessary,” says Laura. Call Laura at 503-632-3564 for details on how you can get involved in preserving this historic landmark.
When we learn a bit about the history of Beavercreek and its residents, it is easy to feel a deeper connection to it and to others. It was the act of kindness from Elias that filled an urgent community need over 130 years ago and it happened right here in our beloved Beavercreek. Each time you drive the curve on Kamrath Road, we hope you can remember the second act of kindness from Mr. Thomas Daniels that made things right for what is now known as the Beavercreek Memorial Cemetery.
Read more about the history of the Cemetery and more in Jack Watts’ publication on Beavercreek history “Through the Looking Glass” (see ad in back of the Bulletin).
Article contributed by Jennifer Logan.