Comment by Julie McDonald: Kudos to Spogens for preserving the Pioneer Cemetery


By Julie McDonald / For the Chronicle

What a relief to read last week that Mark and Lorie Spogen of Chehalis, who worked land near Mary’s Corner, preserved the historic pioneer cemetery where Matilda (Koontz) Jackson buried two of her sons nearly 170 years ago. year.

Henry and Felix “Grundy” Koontz were two of approximately eight pioneers buried on property near Jackson Highway at 233 N. Prairie Road. So did Schuyler Saunders, the founder of Chehalis, who died on February 4, 1861, while visiting the Jacksons.

I cannot imagine the grief Matilda Jackson suffered when her 14-year-old son, Grundy, died on December 7, 1855, of a white swelling in the knee. He had survived the arduous trek through the Oregon Trail, where he had watched his father, Nicolas Koontz, drown in the Snake River on September 7, 1847, only to die of an illness eight years later. As other pioneers fled to blockhouses and forts for protection during the so-called Indian Wars of 1855-1856, Matilda refused to leave their small cabin on Highland Prairie because her third son was too weak to move.

Eighteen months later, on June 1, 1857, she replied that there was a knock at the door to learn that her eldest son, 18-year-old Henry Koontz, had slipped from his horse and drowned in the Cowlitz River. . Upon hearing the news, she grabbed the hand of her toddler, Louisa Jackson, and said, “Come on, Lulie, let’s take a walk in the orchard.” Louisa later recalled that it was the first time she had seen her mother cry.

Most of the headstones in the historic cemetery are gone, either destroyed by vandals and thrown into Onalaska’s Lake Carlisle or used by a man for his fireplace in 1977, but those of Felix and Henry remain.

Rich Curtis, great-grandson of Henry Lucas, who was buried in Pioneer Cemetery, bid on the 16-acre wooded property at his overdue tax auction in January. He did not want to see the final resting place of his ancestor and other pioneers paved over to make way for development. Others buried in the cemetery were Mary Coppock; John L. Gatson, died December 25, 1877; GW Lewis, died July 18, 1853; and Sarah Jane Small, who died August 14, 1853.

When Matilda’s youngest son, Andrew Jackson, died of diphtheria on February 27, 1861, aged 10, he was buried in Chehalis at Fern Hill Cemetery, his father’s final resting place, John R. Jackson, in May 1873 and his mother in February 1901. His siblings, Mary and Louisa, and his half-brother Barton Koontz were buried there, but the body of his other half-brother, John Nicholas Koontz , rests in the cemetery of Claquato.

Before logging the land for their family business, Jorgensen Timber, the Spogens searched with their grandchildren and found the historic cemetery.

“So when we went to log in, we left a really big area around them that we didn’t touch, so nothing was disturbed,” Lorie Spogen told Chronicle writer Carrina Stanton.

They have cut down the land around the old cemetery, bordered by a row of oak trees, and plan to build a fence around it. They also plan to replant the property with trees.

“When you go there, you feel the weight of how long this place has been there,” said Lorie Spogen. “It’s pretty cool. We have a responsibility to maintain it and I think it’s also our responsibility to protect it.

Thank you, Mark and Lorie Spogen, for preserving the final resting place of these faithful pioneers, a priceless piece of Lewis County history.

Toledo Riverhawks mascot

I was happy to see the Toledo School Board adopt my favorite new Toledo Riverhawks mascot. Ron Gaul, the high school art teacher, designed the logo which features the head of a mighty black and white hawk with a menacing red eye and feathers wrapped around the traditional red circle with a T.

While I preferred the Toledo Indians, which reflected the area’s history as the former site of a large Cowlitz village, I knew it was only a matter of time before the district was forced to change the mascot it had used since 1922. I said as many did in a March 2019 column after school officials banned the high school mascot and fight song Tomahawk Chop in response to complaints from fans of Chief Leschi and at a request from tribal leaders Cowlitz, who described both as “offensive and stereotypical”. My suggestion to change the name of the team during the construction of the new high school drew quite a few angry reactions.

But it was about time, and the Washington state legislature overwhelmingly approved the banning of Native American school mascots earlier this year, forcing change in Toledo.

As Gaul said, the ospreys, which nest outside Toledo Middle School, are river hawks, so the school’s new team name seems apt.

And the ferocious Riverhawk mascot just might scare competitors at sporting events.


Julie McDonald, personal historian of Toledo, can be contacted at [email protected].


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