Helping to sniff out Molalla history
The Mountain Wave Search & Rescue cadaver dog team recently visited the Dibble Jackson Austen Larken Pioneer Cemetery to try and determine the locations of graves outside of the cemetery fence boundary, as well as graves within the fence line that no longer have markers.
These highly trained dogs search for the scent of bones from the early Molallans interred there, then give a "sign" to their handlers.
Tagged with GPS locators, they were able to identify some unmarked graves in the cemetery, which are then documented in a report "The Pioneer Cemetery is a significant part of Molalla's early history." The earliest graves, from 1850, are some of the original "Four Corners" Molalla settlers.
Horace and Julia Dibble, who lived in the Dibble House, are also buried there, as well as two of their young sons.
In 1978, Doug Chelson researched and documented the families buried there as part of his Eagle Scout project. The booklet he created is available in the Molalla Public Library, as well as the Museum Complex library.
For the past 10 years the cemetery has been cared for by Patricia Niday, who raised funds and had the current fence built.
Sadly, she has been unable to continue this work.
Steve Rowland, a director of the Molalla Area Historical Society, has taken on overseeing the cemetery so that piece of Molalla history is not lost.
Rowland has organized a fall clean-up by a Clackamas County team, and is interfacing with the City of Molalla to consider adopting the cemetery as a city property. The cemetery has been in the public domain since the 1880s, when Horace Dibble deeded the property to "the people," but has been outside the original city limits for most of its existence.
As the city has grown and boundaries are expanded, this landmark now has the potential of being part of the city.
Mountain Wave S&R is a nonprofit organization. The dogs' owners volunteer their time and expertise to search for burial sites as well as rescues in Washington and Oregon.
They cover the costs of training and equipment themselves. They are inspired by their love of dogs and a desire to give back to the community. You can find out more at www.mwave.org.
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