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"If you drive too fast you'll miss them completely," said Mary Anne Wales.

Wales is retired from the Jackson County Roads Department, where she kept track of the county's road and bridge records.

"There are a couple of graves, right beside the highway in the Upper Rogue," she said, "maybe 10 miles up Elk Creek Road."

She said she first heard of the graves from department workers who were clearing brush beside the road a few years ago.

"All of a sudden they came across these graves," she said. "It kind of freaked them out."

Wales said she always wondered about that roadside cemetery and who was buried there and why it was so close to the road.

Actually, this tiny cemetery has three graves, but only one is plainly marked with a difficult-to-read inscription etched in the stone.

Carved into its base is a message from his brothers and sister mourning his death.

"Little Brother how we miss you playing with us among the flowers, Little Jimmie, since you have left us in our sad and lonely home. Rest in peace dear lonely darling. We will all be with you soon."

James Lewis Geary, two weeks from his 14th birthday, died Christmas Day, 1900. He had lived his entire life on his father's homestead, and was buried at its edge, where the small level valley begins to climb Miller Mountain.

The winter rains had begun and occasional snow showers were falling. It was time for the family to pack inwinter sup-plies just incase they were snowed in for a few weeks.

At the end of a long and cold wagon ride into Medford was a Christmas treat. Little Jimmie would help his father and then have a chance to see the decorated stores where hecould buy something special.

A farm boy didn't see peanuts very often and they looked pretty tasty. Jimmie Geary bought a bag and stuffed them in his mouth, shells and all, swallowing them as fast as he could get them down.

Within a few days of returning home, his abdomen was on fire and he was crying in agonizing pain. The doctor said his intestines were blocked and gave the boy laxative compounds that did no good. He was buried and a tombstone ordered.

Six years later, Jimmie's older half brother, Irvan Shoemake, was pretending to be a rodeo bronco buster, straddling a saddle, tied to a rope, strung between two trees. His brothers pulled other ropes attached to the saddle that made it buck and twist and jerk.

Shoemake bounced higher and higher until he lost hisgrip and missed the saddle. He flipped over in a backward somersault and hit his head on a tree stump. He lingered for a few days, then died and was buried next to Jimmie.

The final grave holds an infant without a name who died in 1926. It was the child of a sister whom Jimmie never knew. She was born long after he was gone.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.

Bill Miller foto - Bill Miller