The Linkville Pioneer Cemetery is the oldest surviving cemetery in Klamath Falls. The following excerpts are taken from the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery & IOOF Cemetery Index to Cemetery Records
, a publication that helps locate graves of those interred within the cemetery:
The exact location of the first burial ground in Linkville is unknown, but it has been long claimed that George Nurse (founder of Linkville before the name was changed to Klamath Falls in 1893) dedicated a lot for that purpose.
It is known that an early cemetery stood on Pine Street between Second and Third Streets, near the old First Presbyterian Church. By 1885, the citizens of Linkville needed to find a new location for the cemetery, probably because of the Ankeny Canal being dug through the area.
On January 19, 1885, twelve local citizens met for the purpose of choosing a new location, they adopted the name Linkville Cemetery Association. Several of the members of that group are buried in Linkville Cemetery, including George T. Baldwin, J.O. Bowdoin, R.E. Davis, J.P. Roberts, Paul Breitenstein, G.W. Smith and J.W. Hamaker.
They chose a parcel of land for the new cemetery "way out in the country," on a hill for good drainage. The land consisted of 20 acres purchased from the Crouch farm for $40. Adjacent to this acreage was a parcel of land that was the IOOF Cemetery (International Order of Odd Fellows). It is thought that this cemetery may have been established as early as 1880. The IOOF Cemetery was deeded to the City of Klamath Fallsin the early 1950s, and today the two cemeteries are considered one.
The early graves near the cemetery entrance were moved from the earlier cemetery on Pine Street. The earliest known grave is that of Earnest L. Smith (Plot: 37-6-4), age 1 year, who died on March 31, 1869, just three years later he was joined by his sister, Sara M. Smith (Plot: 37-6-3), who died October 21, 1872, age two months 7 days, and Henry Miller. Henry Miller (Plot: 21-4-7), was born in Coshocton, Co., Ohio on July 3, 1829 and died October 10, 1872. He was one of the earliest victims of the Modoc Indian War. Henry was a friend of the Modocs, and was one of a group of men working to get them a reservation of their own. The Modocs had been placed on the Klamath Reservation where they were greatly outnumbered. They suffered from constant harassment and abuse by the Klamaths, and as a result were very unhappy and kept returning to their homelands. When all negotiations broke down and it became clear that they would never receive a reservation on their ancestral lands, a large group, under the leadership of Captain Jack left the reservation. Henry Miller was killed by the Modocs because they felt he had betrayed them.
By 1931, after 46 years, the Cemetery was an eyesore. It was seen as a sage covered, rock and refuse strewn hill. A group of citizens banded together to organize improvements. The stone gates at the entrances were constructed of native stone, a wire fence was put around the entire cemetery and more than 100 trees were planted. More than 10 truckloads of refuse were hauled away, many large boulders were removed, the ground leveled, grass planted, and a netwrok of roads was laid out. At that time a monument was erected near the entrance honoring the 300 unknown pioneers who rest there.
A walk through Linkville Cemetery will bring to mind many well known names still seen in the Klamath Basin, including Melhase, Schallock, Biehn, Applegate, Gerber, Willits, Murdock, Campbell, Baldwin, Houston, Dalton, Summers and Grizzle to name a few. It is important to remember that every person buried here has a story; whether they were well known or not. Sometimes it is possible to find information on a particular person, but quite often the name is lost to history.
At last count, there are 5,896 graves at this cemetery. The IOOF part of the cemetery is connected to the north. There are also eight blocks of mainly unmarked graves connected on the west side in what's called 'Potters Field'. These graves comprise the poor and destitute individuals of the Klamath Basin and the reason why most of the graves are unmarked and with no headstones.
The local Klamath County Museum has a page devoted to the Linkville Cemetery and contains a growing list of individuals interred here, along with stories about their lives, some of which had a great impact on the Klamath Basin over the years.