By Christi Baron
Forks Forum Editor
When John Sutherland first cast his eyes upon the body of water that would eventually bear his name, it was around 1865.
He and his trapping partner John Everett had made their way into areas only the local native populations knew of, and in 1911 forty-six years after that discovery, as civilization closed in on the old trapper, farmer and gold miner he would take his last breath in a little town called Forks.
After leaving his birthplace of Pennsylvania, John Sutherland had traveled west and had lived in Port Townsend, the Dungeness area, Fresh Water Bay and then finally sometime before 1900 he had moved to the south Forks Prairie. One can only speculate that Sutherland who was used to life in the wilderness moved farther west as the towns in the east part of the County became more populated.
He lived in an area which is now near where Forks Outfitter’s sits, in those days it was the end of the road, anyone who ventured beyond Mill Creek went by a trail, you might say it was kind of a dead-end.
When Sutherland passed away at the age of eighty-two the Forks Cemetery was fairly sparsely populated too. Sutherland was buried along the west side of the cemetery near Merchant Road and a large granite rock was placed upon his grave.
Fast forward eighty years, Forks resident and wife of Mayor Warren Paul, Ella Paul, thought she remembered that John Sutherland’s rock in the Forks Cemetery once had a plaque on it.
According to her daughter-in-law, Martha Paul, Ella decided that she would see to it that Sutherland’s rock once again had some kind of recognition on it.
Before Ella’s death in 2009 she set aside some money for a new plaque and with the help of the Forks Lions’ Club the new plaque was ordered. Forks Cemetery Association volunteer Mike Snyder installed the new plaque on the old granite rock, and once again John Sutherland’s place in west end history was restored.
While John Sutherland is a more recognizable name in the Forks Cemetery he is not the only one to have been a recipient of updated recognition. Over the years Forks Cemetery Association Volunteer Snyder has assisted a number of families with their desire to update the status of their family members in the Forks Cemetery, by way of a permanent gravestone.
The Kilgore family added a maker for Elmer Killgore, his son Dean was a Superintendant of Forks Schools. Annette of Idaho came to Forks a few years ago to correct a misspelling of her grandfather’s temporary marker, and with the help of Snyder, a new permanent marker for Nova Olmstead is now in place.
Doreen Thalley lives in California, her father Gordon grew up on the Shuwah and his mother Una Wallace had no stone to mark her final resting place. With the help of Snyder, a marker for Una Brenner Wallace was added to the Forks Cemetery grounds.
Snyder can be seen many days at the Forks Cemetery, he says “People from all over the world stop by this cemetery.”
Snyder would like to remind family of those laid to rest in the Forks Cemetery that there are rules regarding what is a proper type headstone and that would be a low profile type marker.
While John Sutherland came to Forks for the last days of his life and resided near what was the dead-end of the West End at that time, on land near where Forks Outfitters sits today, his rock and marker also sit just next to a sign on Merchant Road that says of all things “Dead End.”