By Florence Evers Herinckx 
Presented at Visitation Parish Center on November 7, 2002

To tell you the beginning of the cemetery, I must introduce my Grandfather Peter Evers. Peter was born Oct. 29, 1851, in Hollandtown, WI. the oldest of four children. His father John Evers, a leather shoemaker died when Peter was 9 years old. Peter grew up wanting to be a wagon maker but his Stepfather, Bernard Tennison insisted he be a shoemaker as his Father was. All the tools his Father brought from Holland were his. This he did. He apprenticed under a William Van Auvel and made a high-top shoe called a leather boot of the finest French Kip leather available. If taken care of, his shoes lasted for years.

When the people were planning on moving to Oregon in 1875, Peter had his eye on Antonia, daughter of Antone Vandehey, the wooden shoemaker. Her parents agreed to their marriage on May 29, 1876, before the Vandehey family headed for Oregon. To make sure the young couple would follow, they left their 4-year-old daughter, Ella. In 1877 after the birth of their first child Petronella on April 14, Peter and his family along with Ella and Peter’s two sisters Mary and Petronella, and Peter’s friend Henry DeHair (De Hyer) traveled to Oregon by train to San Francisco, by boat to Portland Oregon and by train to Cornelius where they were met by the Vandehey family. We do not know the day of arrival but know they were here for Petronella Evers marriage to August Van Loo, December 1, 1877, the first wedding in the new Church, dedicated October 24, 1875, as St. Francis Xavier.

On their journey to Oregon, Henry told Peter “If anything happens to me I want all my possessions to be given to the Antone Krieger family. In return, all I want is a stone or a marker for my grave”.

Peter settled in Verboort on 30 acres where Florence Crop now lives. He bought this land from Adrian Vandervelden. In 1880 he bought 45 acres across the road on the Charles Conklin land claim, from Hubert and Johanna Cop Bernards. It was a solid oak tree forest. Peter cleared a small area east of the present house and built his first house from a harness shop that he removed from Centerville three miles away and moved there before Annie (Krieger) was born there July 15, 1881.

In the meantime, Henry settled on 75 acres south of Banks. At Verboort a search was on for a suitable cemetery. St. John’s Catholic Church of Cornelius was located on Fern Hill and on a sloping hill east of the Church is their Catholic cemetery. Verboort searchers wanted such a site. My Grandpa was a man of a few words and simply said, “It would take all day for a funeral to travel so far, and to just visit a grave would be hard to do. If he had a plan in mind at this time I do not know.

Henry DeHair (De Hyer) was helping his neighbor John Spiering build a barn when he fell from the structure and died as a result of those injuries in the Spiering home on October 27, 1880. Henry was the 15th person to die in the Verboort community. Peter buried his friend in a little clearing, that turned out to be 24 ft. west from the now center of the cemetery along the north fence.

This land was accepted as a cemetery on January 13, 1882, by Washington County, the State of Oregon, and the Archdiocese of Portland. The cemetery consisted of one acre of land given by Peter and Antonia Evers and one acre given by John and Mary Vandecoevering. In addition, each family donated one-third acre for a driveway. The driveway was maintained by Washington County for years. In fact, while Herman Mayer was the grader driver, he would park the grader on the cemetery driveway every evening. Documents recording the transfer of title of this land are on microfilm in deed book “Q”, pages 448, 449, and 450 in the Washington County Court House.

Father DeLatte noted in his writings dated 1885, that when he first arrived the cemetery was still covered with brush and stumps. It only took one workday to clear the brush. However, it was William Meeuwsen who removed the stumps in return for farming the unused portion of the cemetery. William was able to farm the land for five years.
By 1885, the 14 buried by the church were being moved to the new cemetery. The first trench was dug starting at the north fence and includes: Henry Bastain (1878, child), Mary Krieger (28 years old, wife of Anton), Agnes Jasper (May 6, 1876, Mrs. Caspar)
Next are the graves of Father Verboort and his parents. I may note here that the body of Mary Krieger was moved to the Krieger lot#NE327B in 1911 by my father Albert Evers.
In the next trench starting at Henry DeHair’s grave is Henry DeHair (died October 27, 1880), Johannis Petri VanLoo (died January-25-1878, baby), Elizabeth Vandervelden (born 1878, died 8-16-1880), John Vandervelden (born 1878, died 8-24-1879), John Proctor (an 1879 child), Rosa Vanderzanden (died 9-27-1879, 2 years and 27 days old). These graves listed are outside of the present perimeter of the cemetery and unmarked.

The first recorded burial directly into the cemetery was 4-year-old Johanna Julia Vandehey, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Vandehey. On June 21, 1885, she died of whooping cough and is in this second trench. It was common practice at the time for a family member to dig the grave next to the last burial. Therefore, graves are quite close in this area as most were children. On the northeast side three Vandecoevering babies, sons of Peter and Allegonda, are buried beyond Jacob Cop’s grave. An adult male is buried in the northwest corner beyond Alick Moder’s grave. Along the northwest, fence are the graves of 35 to 50 unbaptized babies. Everyone buried their own, records were kept only on church burials.

In my growing-up years by the cemetery, Henry DeHair’s grave was always marked with a weathered wooden cross about two feet high with his name spelled out in nail heads. Antone Krieger’s second wife, Johanna Vandecoevering-Krieger, made the marker and kept his burial spot clean of weeds. When the cemetery ground was worked in 1938 many of the markers were removed. Henry’s marker was never replaced, and his site remains unmarked, as do several of the other graves listed above.

It is easy to understand why that first burial should be considered the cornerstone that constitutes the foundation of our cemetery. It is sad to know the one thing Henry wanted, ‘a marker or stone’ was denied him over 60 years of the 120 years he has been buried there.

Peter followed his friend’s wishes, and the 75-acre farm was given to Antone Krieger. Antone kept the farm until October 11, 1888, when it was sold to Henry and Mary Vandehey-VanDomelen for $1,087.50.In 1920, Frank and Nettie Herinckx bought the farm from the VanDomelen’s. This is the homestead where my husband John was raised, and the land is still in the Herinckx family today. The above report on the starting of the Visitation Cemetery was given at a Forest Grove Historical meeting held in Verboort in the Harris Center on November 7, 2002.

This is the first installment of the cemetery history. 

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