Eteläkarjalainen maisema

Eteläkarjalainen maisema
Tässä blogissa on sekä kuvia että tarinoita upean Etelä-Karjalan luonnosta, ihmisistä ja kulttuurista. Kuvassa syyskuinen näkymä Saimaan kanavan varrelta.

maanantai 7. syyskuuta 2015

Greasewood Finnish Cemetery, Umatilla County, Oregon (English version)

A view from the cemetery to the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church
Previously, I have already written in my blog about many [Finnish] grave monuments and graveyards. It has also been very interesting to visit foreign cemeteries. A memorable visit was once to Snoma Finnish Cemetery in South Dakota. In late June and early July in 2005, I did a couple of weeks trip from the US Mid-West to the West Coast. During the trip, I tried to stop those regions, where the Finnish immigrants had been settled. This meant also circling at the cemeteries Finnish immigrants had erected there.

Finland Cemetery, Umatilla County, Oregon

Another view to the cemetery
One area inhabited by the Finnish immigrants in the 1800s is located in the Northwestern corner of state of Oregon, in Umatilla county. The nearest larger town and at the same time the capital of county is called Pendleton. Finnish colony was named after the city to “Pendletonin siirtokunta” = Pendleton colony. Eleven miles north of the city and five miles to the west from a small town called Adams, stands an old church erected by the Finns in 1884, Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church. The church building was left off the regular active use of in 1965. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the church gathered on every first Sunday of the month, when the traveling pastor Carl Niemitalo held services. The church was renovated between 1985 - 1986 and added to the National Register of historic buildings in1988. Although the church activity in the building has already ended, there will be organized a variety of events and weddings from time to time. A good article about the history of the church can be found in East Oregonian’s archives.
The landscape of the cemetery nearby

The history of that church is strongly related a cemetery which is located a quarter  mile north at Enbysk Road. It now bears the name of Finland Cemetery. The area was purchased from John F. Adams. In the late 1800s and early 1900s almost all Pendleton colony Finns were buried there. The majority of the colony's population belonged to the Apostolic Lutheran faith and were buried in the in the northern half of the cemetery. The minority, Evangelical Lutherans, were buried in the southern half. Almost all cemetery tombstones have been photographed in 2005 and can be found here. In recent decades there has been only few funerals

When I arrived on 29th June, 2005, in the evening sun to Greasewood cemetery, I was amazed about the beauty of this dry Oregonian landscape. Yellow wheat fields were blowing in the wind and spread far to the horizon. From the freshly plowed land rose small devil’s dusts moved by sudden gusts of wind. Far away were looming blue-green wooded hills and mountains (Blue Mountains). The only sounds you heard were the whisper of wind and the swish of swaying wheat straw.  Below the cemetery a quarter mile away rose the silhouette of the in 1884 erected Church.

Even mom's little kitty was buried in the cemetery and got its own wooden cross
Cemetery itself is separated from the area around with a fence and is located in the middle of wheat fields. In the cemetery grow some small trees and shrubs, apparently dry, alkaline soils thrive greasewoods, of whom the place is named. In Finland, we are accustomed to the fact that the graveyards are very well kept, lush green and often filled with flower beds. The United States and Canada, the situation may be quite different. Especially in some parched areas of the Midwest cemeteries are quite spartan and bleak. Cemeteries are maintained in practise on voluntary basis, relatives take care of the graves but hardly no one takes care of general view. It’s often prohibited to bring natural flower to the cemeteries, so at the graves you see just plastic flowers. Greasewood cemetery was just like this. The soil was cracked by drought around the graves, and clean sandy paths and roads didn’t criss-cross between green lawns. On top of some graves had been set beer cans (which seems very strange when you know how the cemetery founders had absolutely negative attitude to alcohol). Even mom's little kitten was buried in the cemetery and got its own wooden cross. While spreading around the cemetery landscape was very impressed, cemetery itself left a negative impression on me.
Headstone of Sackris and Wilhelmina Hendrickson. Sackris Hendickson was a lay-minister of the Greasewood Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church

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