13th Annual History Through Headstone Tour

By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum board member

Albany Masonic Cemetery; photo courtesy Kay Burt.

Albany Masonic Cemetery; photo courtesy Kay Burt.

Back in their day, Albany residents Dr. Frank Beauchamp, John Cusick, Wallace Howe Lee, Woodson Pierce Jenks, Frank George Merrill, Judge Victor Olliver, Nimrod Price, Francis Mylon Redfield and Ianthe Smith were household names. Not so much anymore.

Docents will bring their stories to life during the free, 13th annual Headstone Tour from 7 p.m. to dusk on Wednesday, July 24, at the Albany Masonic Cemetery at Seventh and Broadway streets.

Parking is limited so tour-goers have the option of riding a trolley to the cemetery that will leave from the Albany Regional Museum, 136 Lyon St. S., at 6:45, 7:15 and 7:45 p.m., returning shortly after the trolley arrives at the cemetery with the last return trip at 8:45 p.m.

No reservations are required, and historian Bill Maddy will be on the trolley going and returning, pointing out several homes of subjects of the tour, as well as other well-known Albany citizens.

Former Albany fire chief Darrel Tedisch will talk about Frank Beauchamp, who was born in 1877 in Natrona, Illinois, and moved to Albany in 1914, developing a large medical practice. He died at age 64 from a heart attack after staying at his summer home in Waldport, hoping that the sea air would restore him.

Keith Lohse will explain the life of John Wickliff Cusick, who was born in 1835 in Illinois, and while in Albany owned a half-interest in the Albany ferry that crossed the Willamette River and earlier owned the Linn County Bank. He was a delegate to the Republican Convention in Chicago in 1888.  Upon his return, he talked about the fine time he had but the weather was “sweltering” and he was glad to be back in Oregon.

Albany writer Ed Loy will talk about Wallace Howe Lee, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1861, and became the president of Albany College, which was founded and owned by the Presbyterian Church.

For a time, Lee was assistant pastor of the Presbyterian Church.

Carolyn Olsen and Mary Jacq Jenks Burck will explain the life of Woodson Pierce Jenks, who was born in 1895 in Tangent. Jenks was part of a large farming family, and he once served as Linn County clerk. He died in 1986. Olsen is Jenks’ daughter and Burck is his niece.

Oscar Hult of the Natty Dresser will discuss artist Frank George Merrill, who was born in 1919 in Spokane. He was president of the Albany Junior Chamber of Commerce and he was the president of the Albany Timber Carnival Association. He also owned Merrill’s Men’s Store.

Retired Linn Circuit Court Judge Dan Murphy will talk about Judge Victor Olliver, who was born in 1886 in Farmland, Ind. He operated from a law office in the former First National Bank building, and he offered a course at the YMCA on American citizenship. He was a justice court judge and a city attorney.

Mason Rick Hammel will talk about Nimrod Price, who was born in 1822 in Louisville, Ky., and became the father of 12 children. He operated a farm about four miles southeast of Albany. In 1870, he expected to harvest more than 6,000 bushels of wheat and 3,000 bushes of oats. He was a charter member of the Albnay St. Johns Masons.

Museum member and volunteer Larry Bardell will explain the life of Francis Mylon Redfield, who was born in 1842 in North Springfield, Vt. A grocer at 123 First St., his store featured in addition to groceries, provisions, cigars, and tobacco. He also was the city’s treasurer.

Kim Sass, who retired from Samaritan Albany General Hospital and at one time worked as a Democrat-Herald reporter, will report on newspaperwoman Ianthe Smith, who was born in 1901 in Albany. She worked at the Capital Journal in Salem in the classified advertising department after being employed at the Albany Herald for two years, and later she was the women’s editor at the Democrat-Herald.

She died at 78 in 1979.

Tour sponsors are the Museum and St. Johns Masonic Lodge No. 17.

The Albany Masonic Cemetery is about four and a half acres, and it is looked after and maintained by the Masons.

The first burial appears to be that of Sarah A. Graham, a nine-month-old, who died on Aug. 31, 1853. The next person to be buried was John W. Althouse, 24, who died later in the year, and he was followed by Delazon Smith, one of the state’s first U.S. senators. He died on Nov 18, 1860.

For more information about the tour or about the Masonic Cemetery, contact the museum at 541-967-7122.

The museum is located at 136 Lyon St. N.W. is open between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.