Oswego Pioneer Cemetery is located on Jesse and Nancy Bullock’s 1850 Donation Land Claim which extended from just south of the cemetery to the current site of the Christie School at Marylhurst University, about 319 acres in all. The Bullocks established their family farm on the Willamette River, just behind the Christie School on what is now Old River Road.
In 1856 the couple’s eldest son Solomon died at age 20 and was buried about 3 miles from the farm on the top of a hill following the conventions of the time. Other family burials followed including Jesse and Nancy Bullock, and in 1881 five acres of the land were set aside to establish a proper family cemetery initially run by Oswego Iron Company and then Oregon Iron & Steel. That family cemetery is now Oswego Pioneer Cemetery.
In the late 1800’s, “iron making was Oregon’s first major manufacturing enterprise and the little town of Oswego was the center of this venture” (Ann Fulton, Iron, Wood & Water, p. 26). In 1892 the cemetery was donated by the Bullock family to Oregon Iron & Steel for use by the community.
Nearly 100 iron workers are buried in OPC and several more in the adjacent Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery.
In 1910 Oswego was incorporated as a city with a very active religious and social life. Ownership of the cemetery was transferred to the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1934, and four years later in 1938 to the Odd Fellows Lodge. For the next 40 years OPC was known as the “Odd Fellows Cemetery”.
By the late 1960s the cemetery was overgrown with weeds and brush, and many markers were damaged. In the 1970s, a group of concerned citizens led by Ethel Schaubel and Bill Blizzard, then-owner of the Lake Oswego Review newspaper, incorporated the cemetery and were responsible for spearheading its initial restoration.
Today, OPC is a non-profit 501(c)(13) corporation, operated by the Oswego Pioneer Cemetery Board as an “endowment cemetery.” Our endowment trust helps to ensure that we will be able to offer a tranquil setting for generations to come.
OPC’s Board of Directors oversees the cemetery’s operation and has continued the restoration to its current state. Headstone restoration was the major undertaking in 2012, thanks to a grant from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department and the Oswego Rotary. The Caretaker’s Cottage occupied by the cemetery caretaker, Joe Collins, was completed in 2009 and in 2011 the maintenance shed was given new life all thanks to the generous support of the friends of OPC.