Skip to main content

Portland Lone Fir Cemetery Company records

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: B 147

Scope and Contents

Collection includes articles of incorporation, oaths of office, records concerning the Oregon Asylum, annual reports of the treasurer, stock certificates, vouchers, and miscellaneous items.

The records concerning the Oregon Asylum include lists of patients buried at the cemetery.

The annual reports date from 1868-1903.

The miscellaneous items include real estate exchange documents and memoranda.


  • Creation: 1866-1904


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Lone Fir is the oldest of Portland, Oregon's original cemeteries. Its first burial was Emmor Stephens, father of landowner J.B. Stephens, who died in 1846.

In the mid-1800s, J.B. Stephens purchased a land claim for $200 held by John McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver. The claim extended from the east bank of the Willamette River to present day Southeast 23rd and from Stark Street to Division Street. Stephens’ father died shortly after they arrived to Oregon and was buried on the family farm. In 1854, Stephens sold the farm to Colburn Barrell, with the promise that he maintain Emmor’s grave.

A businessman with a number of ventures, Barrell was an investor in the steamship “Gazelle,” which exploded in Canemah in April of 1854. Twenty-four of the 50 passengers perished, including Barrell’s partner, Crawford Dobbins and his friend D. P. Fuller. Barrell buried these two men near the Stephens family plot and set aside 10 acres for a cemetery, which he named Mt. Crawford.

Barrell tried to sell the cemetery to the City of Portland, but the deal was refused because it was considered too far from town at the time. When the City refused, a group of Portland families and plotholders purchased the land for $4,000 and incorporated it as “Lone Fir Cemetery,” a name suggested by Colburn Burrell’s wife Aurelia in honor of the solitary fir tree on the land.

No money was set aside for perpetual care and the cemetery gradually fell into disrepair. By 1928 it was covered with blackberry mounds and there were 10,000 unknown graves. Prior to the 1870s there were few stone markers and the wooden ones had rotted or were destroyed in one of several fires in the cemetery.

For more than 40 years, every burial in Portland occurred at Lone Fir, until Riverview Cemetery was established in 1893. In addition to the graves and the variety of trees that were planted to honor the deceased, Lone Fir has a special rose garden that is still in existence today. In 1936, Mary Drain Albro founded the Pioneer Rose Association and led a movement to find and save roses that emigrants had brought west on the Oregon Trail. Eventually, 23 different roses were identified. Cuttings were taken and new plants grown from them, which were planted in four gardens located in Champoeg (the Oregon Territorial Capital), Pacific University in Forest Grove, on the Willamette University Campus, and at Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland. Today, the rose garden in Lone Fir is the only one still in existence.

Source: Friends of Lone Fir cemetery,


.5 linear feet (1 container) : 1 manuscript box

Language of Materials



The Lone Fir Cemetery is the oldest of Portland's original cemeteries and was established in 1846. Collection includes articles of incorporation, oaths of office, records concerning the Oregon Asylum, annual reports of the treasurer, stock certificates, vouchers, and miscellaneous items.


Material within this collection is minimally arranged. Any arrangement is either derived from the records' creators or custodians or from staff at the time of initial processing. It may be necessary to look in multiple places for the same types of materials.

Physical Description

2 flat boxes, 1 volume.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal organization and rehousing.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents. Folder titles are based on those created by the creators or previous custodians. Titles have not all been verified against the contents of the folders. In some cases, staff supplied folder titles during initial processing.

Guide to the Portland Lone Fir Cemetery Company Records
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team and Jenn Newby
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA