The Mission for Oregon

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The way it used to be

In the first photograph you can see the original grave markers for Rev. Jason Lee and his first wife, Anna Maria Pittman. Its date is unknown, with Lee's in the foreground and Pittman's off to the right.

This photograph of Lee's marker (above) was taken April 26, 1940. Below is a photograph of Pittman's, and its date is also unknown.

(Source: Salem (Oregon) Public Library Historic Photograph Collections)

In 1974, vandals destroyed these stones, and they were replaced with flat-to-the-ground markers.

Lee's and Pittman's, as they are today:

Both epitaphs were simplified when they were replaced. Perhaps the customary Christian invocations had become obsolete in one-hundred and thirty years?

The original of Jason Lee's epitaph read:

SACRED, To the memory of the REV JASON LEE, An itinerant minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, member of the New England Conference, and the first missionary to the Indians beyond the Rocky Mountains. He was born in Stanstead, L. C., June 27, 1803, CONVERTED in 1826 under the labors of the Wesleyan Methodists, preaching in Stanstead and the adjoining towns till 1833, when he was called to engage in the OREGON MISSION. To this GODLIKE ENTERPRISE he devoted all his talents, in labors abundant he laid all on the missionary altar, counting not his life dear that the Red-men might be saved. In this work, he crossed the Rocky Mountains first in 1834, and again in 1838. July 16th, 1837, he married Anna Maria Pittman of New York, who died in Oregon June 26th, 1838. His second wife Lucy Thompson of Barre, Vt., died in Oregon March, 1842. He sustained these painful bereavements with great Christian fortitude and submission. In May, 1844, he returned a second time to the States, and in August impaired health compelled him to desist from his labors and find an asylum among kind relatives in his native town where he died in peace, March 12, 1845. Aged: 41 years, 3 months, and 18 days. Job XIV, 14 "If a man die shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time willI wait till my change come." Job XIX, 25 "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth." Job XIV, 15 "Thou shalt call and I will answer; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thy hands."

Anna Maria Pittman's read:

BENEATH THIS SOD the first ever broken in Oregon for the reception of a white mother and child, lie the remains of ANNA MARIA PITTMAN wife of REV. JASON LEE, with her infant son. She sailed from New York, July 1836, landed in Oregon June 1837, was married July 16, and died June 26, 1838, aged 35 years, in the full enjoyment of that love which constrained her to leave all for CHRIST and heathen souls. ----- Lo! we have left all, and followed thee; What shall we have therefore? Matt. 19, 27

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