Mulkey Cemetery is named for the Mulkey family, who arrived in Oregon in 1853. Patriarch Philip Mulkey, accompanied by his wife, Martha, and several of their adult children, emigrated from Kentucky and claimed land in the southern Willamette Valley. The elder Mulkeys farmed 320 acres of land in what became west Eugene; other family members claimed land to the north, along what is now Old Coburg Road. Philip was the first traveling preacher in Lane County and became a well-known local figure.
Pioneer life in Oregon was rewarding but challenging. As far as we are now aware, the first burial in this location, of thirty-six-year-old Lucinda Barger, took place in January of 1856. The Bargers had a land claim in west Eugene, and their name survives as the name of Barger Drive. The teenaged Aaron McPherson was buried in 1857, followed by two elderly men, J.C. Brashear and John H. Edmunson, in 1860.
Between 1862 and 1865, Martha Mulkey and three of the Mulkey grandchildren died and were buried here. The hilltop became known informally as the “Mulkey Cemetery.”
By the late 1870s, more than 25 burials had taken place at the cemetery. In the 1880s, several local families joined together to formally deed the hilltop land as a cemetery. The arrangement was formalized in 1891, when a plat map was made and recorded with the county.
In 1923, the cemetery incorporated as an Oregon nonprofit, making the cemetery association one of the oldest corporations in our region which still operates in essentially its original form.
From the late nineteenth century through the 1950s, the cemetery was surrounded by the pear and cherry orchards planted by Edward Hawkins, who came to Oregon as a child in 1845. In 1956, the orchard was subdivided. The area is still known as “Hawkins Heights,” and the names of early settlers have become the names of streets in this quiet residential neighborhood.
The Mulkey Cemetery is maintained by the Mulkey Cemetery Association, which became an IRS-recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in 2008. The Association has limited historical information available in our files, but please feel free to let us know if you have a research question you’re working on and we’ll see what we can do to help. We are also happy to receive copies of cemetery-related records, including deeds, death certificates, and biographical information about individuals interred at the Mulkey. Thank you!
A bibliography of historical materials about cemetery history and families.