In the middle of town is the Ashland Cemetery, surrounded on four sides by residential and commercial blocks.
In 1872, Ashland resident Eber Emery purchased the Isaac D. Smith Donation Land Claim, including a small burial ground that had begun in the 1850s. Emery sold the 4.64 acres containing the cemetery to Ashland School District #5, thus placing the land in public ownership. In 1880, citizens voted to transfer cemetery ownership (with the exception of one acre deeded earlier to the I.O.O.F. (International Order of Oddfellows), to the town trustees. By May 1880, workers had laid out a cemetery plan, surveyed the grounds, and staked off and numbered the lots. This plan incorporated the earlier graves, with the earliest recorded burial dating to 1860.
Marker design and craftsmanship flourished in Ashland Cemetery, and many of the fine headstones carved by James Russell and Ann Hill Russell are located here.
In 1884 the railroad brought many new residents to town and as years passed the cemetery saw steady use. In 1894, workers built a tool house in the cemetery, and later constructed a curved sheet-metal arch to mark the entrance on East Main Street.
Regular maintenance remained a challenge. Although Ashland citizens voted for perpetual care for the city cemeteries in 1928, lack of funds in the Depression and World War II years made upkeep difficult. Ashland I.O.O.F. Lodge #45 deeded their .98 acre parcel to the City in 1932. Following World War II, City employees devoted increasing time to cemetery, initiating a regular mowing and irrigation program.
Ashland Cemetery is the final resting place of many first generation settlers of Ashland, including Lindsay Applegate, Abel and Martha Helman and members of the Mickleson, Tolman and Myer families.
In recognition of its historic significance and broad array of marker designs and craftsmanship, Ashland Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and was also listed with Oregon Commission on Historical Cemeteries in 2013.