MHS Receives UO Science Museum Stewardship Award April 11, 2018

EUGENE, Ore. - The Museum of Natural and Cultural History has recognized Coos Bay’s Marshfield High School (MHS) with the 2018 Oregon Stewardship Award. The $1000 award honors the work that Marshfield students, educators and community partners are doing to steward the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery.

The region’s primary burial ground from 1888 through 1920, the cemetery is home to roughly 2,000 graves including Native American tribal members and some of the area’s first European American settlers. Nearly 100 veterans from several conflicts are buried there, 60 of whom served in the Civil War.

Over the years, the cemetery, which is adjacent to the high school campus, fell victim to neglect and vandalism and was eventually closed to the public save for two days a year. But in 2003, a Marshfield student took an interest in the site and produced an informational brochure underscoring its importance as a community resource. The project gained momentum and today, the cemetery has been transformed by new fencing, headstones for previously unmarked veterans’ graves, signage and interpretive panels—all funded by generous local donations.

The City of Coos Bay, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, and local units of the U.S. Army National Guard and Coast Guard have been key partners, as have local veteran’s groups and the Coos Bay Garden Club. Pacific Fence & Wire Co., West Coast Monument and Giddings Boatworks have supplied materials, and numerous individuals have donated, including philanthropist Martha Butler, whose relatives are buried at the cemetery. 

In addition to the cash prize, Marshfield High School will be recognized at an award reception this spring at the museum. They will also become part of an Oregon Heroes display panel in the museum’s Explore Oregon exhibition hall.