The Antioch Cemetery
Tuesday September 12, 2006
By Margaret LaPlante
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Jackson County’s Antioch Cemetery, near Sams Valley, Oregon, has a past that few other cemeteries in the country share.
Antioch Cemetery got its start in 1880 when the Donegan family donated a portion of their land for a cemetery and a school.
In 1943 it was discovered that the Antioch Cemetery was in the way of Camp White’s firing range. The officials at Camp White decided against moving the burial sites to another location and after much discussion, decided to lay the headstones flat and cover each of them with a foot of sand followed by five feet of dirt.
In 1948 the headstones were uncovered and placed upright. Unfortunately, some of the headstones were destroyed and names were lost in the process. Those headstones are now marked “unknown.”
The Army had promised to return the land to the Antioch Cemetery when they were finished with Camp White. But through a series of miscommunications, the Army declared the land surplus and prepared to auction it off. In 1949, local families who had loved ones buried in the cemetery led a march through downtown Medford calling attention to the situation. The Army then called off the auction and sold the land to the Antioch Cemetery Association for one dollar.
Today’s episode of As It Was was written by Margaret LaPlante, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I’m Shirley Patton. As It Was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas – dot- org
Specht, Sanne. “Antioch Cemetery,” Medford Mail Tribune; Our Valley, April 18, 2004, p. 106.