24 November 2009
Surrarrer Cemetery is far off the main road it is on a dusty seasonal road that follows the power line in Newaygo County. Several years ago Terry Wantz a local historian and friend ask me to help out trying to find names of people buried there. It is a lonely place but beautiful, it is sandy and forgotten and hard to reach.
The prairie was known as a place that many Native Americans called home and was a large village since it was close to the river where it was narrow and easy passing. It was also a rich hunting ground. Many believe the cemetery started out as a Native American burial ground. We also seen signs of burial mounds in the area. The area was also known as a place where two major trails leading to the Mackinaw area crossed according to maps of Native American trails that were found.
We have the names of about 8 people but that list is uncertain. You can see where several more people are buried by the indentations in the ground. Many people were moved to Oak Grove in Croton when the area was abandoned. Searching in the nearby fields you can see where a old building stood. A lilac tree plated there by someone years ago dreaming of what her new home will become. A few of the families who were buried there are English's, Overly's, Saunders and a Mr. Boyd.
When looking for information neither the Newaygo County Goverment offices nor the Brooks Township have any records of this cemetery. It is also believe that Mr. Surrarrer was buried here. Ransom Surrarrer made the first purchase of the land thus its name. On the 1880 atlas shows a Phillip Dickinson and his wife Sophonia Tibbits owning 160 acres on the edge of the prairie. It also shows records that they sold a piece of land for a new school that was to become Dickinson school.
Many families had moved here since it was a logging area and a days trip from Grand Rapids but this area was developing and many families moved on to more fertile land.
Terry has worked for several years keeping the area neat and trimmed up. Cutting the grass over the burial site. Putting a fence along the edge to keep Orv's off the burial area. Building and installing a sign and putting benches to rest on. It was a job that he took on as a sign of respect for his ancestors the Dickinson's.
The spelling has changed many times over the years from Serrarrer, Surarrer, among other spelling hence you will see spelling changes depending on the source used.