This Memorial Day weekend here at Goschie Farms, we’re reflecting not just on all the brave men and women who came before us, but also on how much our world changed both in their lifetimes and the years that followed. We talk a lot about our farming operation, but for just about as long as we’ve been farming in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Goschie family has been involved in a much different operation: the maintenance of a small pioneer cemetery.
In 1860, pioneer settlers Richard and Margaret Stanton Miller, who had about a decade earlier come from back East to stake a claim in the Oregon Territory, made a gift of their land to the local community to be used as a burying ground open to anyone from any religious denomination. These types of “burying churches” are few and far between, and it’s so remarkable that Miller Cemetery has survived this long that the Federal Government has listed it on its National Register of Historic Places.
Carl Goschie, the son of immigrants to the area, his own son Herman Goschie, and Herman’s daughter (and a current VP at Goschie Farms) Gayle Goschie have all served on the Miller Cemetery Board. Over those three generations, the Goschie family has remained committed to restoring and maintaining this incredibly special landmark.
In between farm work, Goschie Farms regularly sends tools and crews out to Miller Cemetery to tend the graves and care for the beautiful little chapel situated there among the oak trees.
When the Miller family would have arrived in this part of the Oregon Territory, it was still largely untamed land. For thousands of years the only residents of the Willamette Valley were 20-some Native American tribes, including the Kalapuya, Chinook, and Molala peoples. After the area’s discovery, British and American fur trappers and traders established small settlements throughout the largely forested country, until the Donation Land Claim Act forced the resettlement of the Native residents of the area and promised 640 acres of what would be premiere farm land to any who settled in the area.
The promise of this new “Eden” (as the Willamette Valley was described in several East Coast advertisements at the time) lured thousands of people who quickly transformed the landscape into an agricultural powerhouse. While innovations in farming provided an economic boom, many of the new techniques that would be implemented in the decades to follow would place the long term beauty and health of this special environment at risk.
We’re grateful for all those who came before us and their contributions to our
lives, and are also grateful that we know so much more now about how we as stewards of the land can co-exist with our environment in a much more sustainable way. As we continue to farm and continue to maintain areas like Miller Cemetery, we’re excited and eager to slowly coax back some of the natural growth that would have existed in this area when the Millers and their Native predecessors would have enjoyed here.
Whether we’re walking between rows of gravestones honoring the people to whom we've said goodbye, or walking through a field of wildflowers pushing their way out of the ground for the first time in decades... we feel thankful for the chance to witness history, and excited to see what comes next for this amazing place.