The first person buried in the historic Stearns Cemetery on Anderson Creek Road west of Talent, Ore., was Judge Avery P. Stearns. His nephew, David Stearns, buried the judge in the nephew’s wheat field in 1857.
Judge Stearns had arrived at Fort Wagner with his family only four years earlier. The second person buried in the cemetery was the judge’s niece, Emma, who died in 1862 of burns when her dress caught on fire.
Over the years the Stearns’ family allowed neighbors to use the cemetery. Following David Stearns’ death in 1886, members of the family donated the hillside property for a community cemetery.
Gravestones show many of Talent’s well-known pioneer families are buried there beside lesser known people from all walks of life. One of them, Jasper Force, born in Pennsylvania in 1800, worked for the pioneer Beeson family doing general handyman work. His gravestone showed he died at age 107 in 1907.
A granite stone installed in 2015 traces the story of how the Stearns’ family crossed the plains by oxen to Oregon in 1853 and created the cemetery.
Sources: Reynolds, Yvonne. Talent Worth Its Weight in Gold. Talent, Oregon, Lolot Press, 1996, pp. 145-46; Wright, Jan. Great Turnout for July Stearns Cemetery Tour." Historicale, Sept. 2015, pp. 4-5+, www.talenthistory.org/forms/2015_03.pdf. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.