Walla Walla County
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Also known as the St Rose Mission Cemetery.
There were three sites, the first being on the William McBean claim near the ruins of the Whitman Mission. Burials started in 1853.
The second site was along the river farther West. With “the washing out of some graves” the cemetery was moved higher up on the hill to the present site in 1876.
This final site was on Marcel Gagnon and Rosalie Dauphin Gagnon’s land. Originally the site as known as the “Narcisse Raymond Donation Claim”. Narcisse Raymond sold the land to Marcel Gagnon and Gilbert Giroux in 1864.
St Rose of Lima Church was Southwest of the cemetery. The land for the church was sold by Marcel and Rosalie Gagnon for $1.00 to Rt Rev A.M.A. Blanchet in 1877 to establish the Church.
According to Church records, approximately 62 graves remain. The last interment being Marcel Gagnon in 1893. From papers of Damase Bergevin – thirty children died in a Diphtheria Epedimic and many others were also buried here. “A priest was not here at the time, no official documentation was made”. There were approximately 125 burials.
The cross was made by Marcel Gagnon and his brothers Medard and Lucien. The Gagnons have eight family members buried here.
Also from Damase Bergevin – “A fire burned all the markers when I was a boy, but Clem Bergevin has relocated all the graves. They are mostly returned Hudson Bay people. The wooden cross was saved from the fire and preserved in Clem’s barn for many years before replacing in the Graveyard.”
The Bergevin family erected the Obelisk with family names of those buried on one side, on another side the family names of early settlers.
The Bergevins have eleven relatives buried at St Rose, including ancestral grandfather Joseph Forest (1889) and his wife Marguerite Pichet (1881).
After the Church was closed and sold in 1909 for lumber, the land was sold. The cemetery fence fell away to farming and the gravesites lost. The cross and obelisk remained. The Frenchtown Historical Foundation was founded to obtain the land and restore the area. Present land owners the Byerlys donated the 57 acres to FHF. The Foundation has restored the cemetery area, an overlook, laid pathways with interpretive signs and built a shelter in the French cabin style. All is open to the public.
Sources – Catholic Church Records of the Pacific Northwest compiled by Harriet D. and Adrian R. Munnich - Papers by Damase Bergevin
Submitted by: Judith Duffy Fortney
History and Artifact Co-chair
Frenchtown Historical Foundation