31 December 2009

Obituary(?)—Frank Chillis

I am almost reluctant to call this an obituary, although it is supposed to be one. No dates or next of kin, just a walk down memory lane, inspired by the death.

25 January 1912 Fremont Times Indicator

Frank Chillis, of Ferry, was found dead in his home by one of his neighbors last Wednesday morning. Death supposed to have been from apoplexy. Frank Chellis was an old time resident of Hesperia. He was a young man living with his parents when the writer first came to Hesperia, a green little Scotch girl, and she remembers Frank Chellis as a dashing young man with black trousers, a white shirt with a frilled bosom and a gay red sash trimmed on the ends with silver fringe, playing in the first band that was ever organized in Hesperia. She also remembers her first appearance in public in Hesperia at a school picnic when Miss Romanda Carpenter was the teacher. The Hesperia band was there all young men looking so gay in their natty uniforms. The little “Scotch girl” sang a little Scotch ditty in her shy timid way and she can hear the roll of the drums and the cheers yet as they brought her back to sing another. These happy early days are passing swiftly by, and only one of those band boys, to our knowledge, is left, (George Overly), and as much as we may regret their passing we must submit to these changes that are bound to come. Perhaps it is just our notion, but Hesperia in all her palmist days, Big Meetings and all, never produced a finer looking set of young men; never discoursed sweeter music than that played by the Hesperia band of 71-2. We pay our tribute of respect to Frank Chellis; and clothed in that uniform in the glory of youth and the pride of young manhood, he will hang a pleasing picture of our childhood on memory’s walk.

Whew. Remember what I said once about being able to recognize my favorite local correspondent by her style? Without a doubt, this has to have been written by Mrs. Robertson. I just love how she took a few mentions of Mr. Chellis’s death, and turns it into an entire walk down memory lane and the good old days for her.

29 December 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Christian Plains Cemetery

Christian Plains Cemetery is a fairly small cemetery in Croton Township, on the east side of Newaygo County. You can see from these two pictures, above and below that it is a rural cemetery with a lot of open land. I am not sure if there are unmarked graves or not. I do know that the transcription in the local history room of the graves is very brief, with only 39 names.
Between the age and the lichens, I cannot make out any of the writing on this stone. It appears to be a marble military marker. (I got a big hint from the flag and flag holder on that one.) The transcriptions do list a George Mowatt, Wagoner Co. A, 23rd Mich. but I have no way of knowing if this is indeed his grave.
The sides on this large marker are unreadable. The base however, does clearly say COE. There is a B.F. Coe and his wife, Amanda listed in the transcripts.
This stone appears to be separated from the base, although it is standing and does not appear broken. The name here is Russell. There are several families of Russells in this cemetery. Although all of them appear to have died in the 1800's, I notice that there are still a fairly new bunch of silk flowers at the foot of the base stone.
To me, this is the saddest grave of all the pictures we have. No discernible head or foot stone, or nearby family stone. It appears to be a grave outlined in field stones collected for that purpose.

It isn't clear if the bushes are something planted, or (more likely) wild shrubs that grew up and with the stones, no one was able to mow it.

27 December 2009

Obituary—George Gronso

Here is a rather typical obituary from the period. Much more details than now, as well as flowery thoughts would not be politically correct now.

From 21 March 1912 Fremont Times Indicator

George Gronso died Saturday night, March 16, 1912, at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Gronso, in Dayton township, after a long illness of cancer of the stomach and bowels. Early last fall he was taken to the Hackley hospital for an operation for appendicitis, when the cancerous growth was discovered. He stayed in the hospital until about four weeks ago when he was brought home. His stay at the hospital was brightened by the visits of loved ones and friends, often by cards, letters and flowers that were showered upon him, and if love and good wishes and friends could have made him well, he would have been in our midst today, but it was not to be. God took him in life’s early morning when life for him was at its brightest and all the birds of Hope were singing in his heart. The fairest, the brightest and best is wanted for the building of the heavenly kingdom.

George Gronso was born in Brown county, South Dakota, when he died he was twenty-three years, seven months and 1 day old. He came to the old Scott farm with his parents seven years ago where he has since resided. Before coming to Michigan he was converted in his home town and was a member of the United Brethren church. He was a member of the Gleaner lodge and carried a life insurance in that order. He led a noble life and was beloved by all who knew him, and his untimely death is a sad blow to the community.

To the father and mother, to sisters and brothers and to the one for whose brow the orange wreath was about to bloom, we extend our heartfelt sympathy in this their saddest hour.

The funeral was held at the home, Monday at one o’clock, conducted by Rev. Brets of Hesperia and Rev Wellman of Dayton. Interment at Doud cemetery. There was a large congregation and many beautiful floral offerings.
Did you catch the subtle mention in the next of kin? I am assuming “the one for whose brow the orange wreath was about to bloom” was a fiancĂ©e. What do you think?

24 December 2009

Obituary--Carl Hagen

This obituary is from my husband’s family and with the accompanying article is an example of both period obituaries and the neighborhood column death notices. One of the main barn builders in the Holton area, Carl built the barns on the Hagen home farm and others in the area. (according to a grandson of one of Carl's brothers.)
Obituary from 7 June 1928 Fremont Times Indicator:
Carl Hagen
Carl Hagen was born August 22 1873 and died June 2 1928 at the age of 54 years. He came to America at the age of 13 years and has made his home in the vicinity of Holton. He is survived by three brothers, Paul and Otto of Fremont, and two sisters and an aged aunt, Mrs. Frederick Ruprecht of Manistique, Mrs. Julius Schwarzberg of Muskegon and Mrs. Martha Kemp of Manistique.
The Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon from the Holton M. E. church and were conducted by Rev. F. J. Schueter of Fremont. Interment was in Holton cemetery

Direct and to the point—just the facts. But this, from another column of same paper is much more fun and really tells more about the family. Each type of notice has its place. I must say, I enjoy this second one better.

The neighbors and friends of Carl Hagen were shocked to hear of his sudden death Saturday noon. Mr. Hagen was leading a cow along the highway and dropped dead only a short distance from his farm home. A neighbor saw him fall and quickly notified his brothers but he was dead before anybody got to him. Mr. Hagen and his brother Otto lived alone on a farm just south and east of Brunswick. Funeral services will be held Tuesday afternoon from his home. The sorrowing relatives have the sympathy of his many friends.

What I find funny is that I life down the road from where this happened. This road now is in no way a highway, just a paved country road. And yes, although the obituary on top states there are three brothers, they do not list the third brother who had moved to Wisconsin—Frank.

22 December 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Bridgeton Cemetery

After spending some time poking around in our Local History files, I managed to come up with some pictures from the Bridgeton Cemetery. These seem to have been taken from one of our contributors who favored pictures of the cemetery as a whole, rather than just an individual tombstone.
Bridgeton Cemetery is located near the south end of the county. I love the look of the massive stones here. Notice how even the individual markers in this family plot have bulk and weight. Clearly the Stone family was not one to be trifled with.

This illegible stone seems to be just leaning on the tree. My mind wonders if it was broken by a too closely planted tree, or from natural or man-made forces.

This Jenning family plot has less massive stones. Still these 3 stones of children from ages 11 to 17 is a reminder of the harshness of life in the late 19th century rural Michigan.
This stone is for the Squier family. Their massive Family marker is shown below and both are in the picture above of the Stone family, in the background.
The letters in the oval near the top of the stone are BPOE--before television and radio, so many families joined different fraternal organizations. This family appears to have been members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks.Here is an over all view of much of the cemetery. As you can see, it is actively used today. Notice the newer granite markers, as well as at least three with the bronze veterans plaques.

21 December 2009

Are your genealogy records safe?

In Dick Eastman's news letter there is an article about genealogy records saved in a house fire. Unfortunately I also read a article this past weekend about a lady whose Christmas tree caused a house fire and the family lost everything including her genealogy records collected by her Grandmother, Mother and herself. She said she always was going to make copies and store them somewhere else just in case. If one place was destroyed the other hopefully would not be. But unfortunately she always put it off waiting for a good time to do it and that day never came.
Can you imagine the heartbreak? Three generations of records lost so quickly. Where do you keep your records? Do you have a backup saved somewhere else? How are they saved on if you use disks? Do you keep them updated as technology changes (I still have some 3inch floppy disks with data saved on them).
I have heard so many sad stories of destroyed records in many ways from a angry spouse destroying records to fires or the dog ate them. You never can be to safe. Today with computers it makes the job of saving a backup so much easier we have no excuses not to find the time to do a backup and keep it in a safe place. Heaven forbid anything happening but what if is did? Are you prepared?

17 December 2009

Obituary --O H Johnson

Obituary—O H Johnson

This obituary is by my favorite correspondent of the time. She appreciated a flowery turn of phrase.

3 April 1913 Fremont Times Indicator

Mrs. Wm. Robertson, Correspondent

Hesperia was shocked last Friday afternoon when the news when flying that Mrs. Manley Seymour had come home from shopping and found her father, O. H. Johnson, lying dead on the floor. Mr. Johnson had eaten a hearty dinner and was in good spirits and was reading about the flood in the daily paper, when he fell out of his chair. (OK—editorial comment here. If he was home alone, how did they know he was reading that item when he fell? And what flood?) Mrs. Johnson was making calls when the news reached her that her husband was dead, Rev. Bretz breaking the sad tidings had best he could.

Mr. Johnson had been laying pipes through the town to convey the water from his flowing well to different places. He was quite a business man and owned quite a lot of property about Hesperia. He preached in the Methodist church several years ago but he retired from the ministry and settled in Hesperia, he and his wife moving every spring to their cottage at Gunn lake to spend the summer.

He has a son living in Detroit, who came to the funeral which was held last Sunday in the M. E. church. He leaves a wife, one son and one daughter, Mrs. Manley Seymour who have the sympathy of every one in their sad and sudden bereavement.

The newspaper correspondent (or gossip, if you prefer) who wrote this as a style all her own. It has gotten so I can recognize an obituary by her, before I see her name, or if her name is missing, I know her by the region her column are from. These early obits were often contained in the body of the chatty columns written by someone from each neighborhood. Facts were often second hand, but still are better than nothing for genealogists.

16 December 2009

Sort of Obit--James Henry Samis

I was reminded of this clipping from an 1899 Michigan newspaper. I don't have the exact date, but it was in June, and I am not sure if the clipping is from the Grand Rapids Herald or the Big Rapids newspaper notice. It concerns my Great-great-grandfather. I'll relate the family slant on the story at the end.

His Life Crushed Out
James Samis, Mecosta Farmer, Tried to Board a Freight.
Special to Grand Rapids Herald.
BIG RAPIDS Mich. June 10--James Samis, a farmer living seven miles north-east of Paris, in attempting to board a freight train at Paris yesterday, fell under the wheels and was fatally injured. His arm was amputated near the shoulder, but he did not survive the shock. (there's a surprise!) He was about 58 years old.

Ok, the family story was that he was trying to hop the train, on the way to Big Rapids to try to find a job, but instead fell under the train and died.

The picture above is of his family. I am trying to discover if it was taken at the time of the funeral. If so, the youngest daughter in white in front would have been just a little past her 9th birthday. Not sure.

15 December 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Bull Cemetery

I had intended to go through all the county cemeteries, and to keep track, decided to go in alphabetical order. However, in the absence of any pictures for Brunswick Cemetery, we will go ahead with Bull Cemetery.
As you can see, their are several monuments with unusual shapes. The tall one in the foreground is unusual. The embossing is of a bunch of flowers. I also like the one with the square sent on one corner. I've mentioned before I enjoy the homemade stones. This one above, while the stone is conventional, the base is clearly a homemade one.
Another home made stone that is getting lost in the grass. I think the person was just 7 years old, and died in 1902. The name maybe be (blank) Stone. An interesting thing about this stone though, is that the letters appear to be raised. Usually carved stones have the letters indented. Perhaps this something made in a mold? I just don't know, but it is interesting
I have noticed while looking at these pictures that many are of stones that have been broken. Whether from age or vandalism I don't know. Look at the lovely marble slab above with the carved drapery, leaning against a larger stone.
The above and below stones, I believe are a match. The above stone for Hyram (?) Hopkins ends with the word died. The stone below, starts with a date, and then the age. While fairly legible, the stone nonetheless is broken. That leads me to believe, since this is a fairly rural cemetery, that the abundance of broken stones may have been due to vandals over the years.
Yet another broken stone, getting lost in the grass.
Even the date is hard to read. The bottom of the stone is pitted away.

This is either the base of a stone that has been broken away. Or a very deteriorated stone. Nothing is legible.
There are very neat areas of the cemetery, as shown in this family plot.

The boundaries are clearly bounded, yet there are another few graves outside. These are almost ready to be taken over by the nearby woods. Yet the flag still flies, showing that a veteran is lying there.

12 December 2009

Obituary—Mrs John Maynard

I especially love how this obit begins with an entirely different name that the one in the header of the obituary. At the end of the paragraph they let you know this is still the same person.

From the March 1 1913 Fremont Times Indicator.

Grace Stout was born in Denver township, September 10, 1896 and died February 25, 1913. She was married to John Maynard March 25 1903.

(I like a good obituary that gets right down to the facts.)

The death of this young wife and mother breaks a marriage tie that extended its happiness through almost 10 uninterrupted years and has cast a gloom of sadness over the community where she grew to womanhood and was honored and loved by all who knew her. But the greatest loss comes to the husband and two little daughters. “Death’s untimely frost” has nipped their flower in the bloom and beauty of wifehood and motherhood and left them bereft at the time she was needed most. Some day we shall know why these sorrows come upon us.

Grace was the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Stout. She grew up in our midst and always lived in Denver. She moved to the home where she died when she became a happy bride. She was a thrifty young house wife and loving help mate. She and her husband labored together and built them a beautiful farm home which she enjoyed only a little while.

In the early winter Mrs. Maynard began ailing, and her husband growing anxious concerning her condition, took her to Ann Arbor for treatment. She became a little better and came home, but she began to fail soon after and never rallied. All that love and tender care and money could do was done for her.

She leaves a sorrowing husband and two little daughters, Leta, aged eight and Lois, aged seven; a father and mother; two brothers Louis and George Stout, of Denver, two sisters Mrs. Fred Sanborn of Denver and Mrs. Cora Pike of Morley, and a wide circle of friends to mourn their loss.
The funeral was held at the home last Thursday at 11 a.m., Rev George Van Wingerden officiating. The internment was in the East cemetery.

The flowers were many and beautiful and told the sorrowing ones in their sweet way the love and sympathy that friends and neighbors fain would speak.

Given the location of her home, I feel certain that this obituary was written by one of my favorite newspaper correspondents of this era. She was clearly under the influence of Austen or Dickens or had dreams of being like them.

10 December 2009

Obituary—Hollow Horn Bear

This is an interesting death notice that appeared in our local paper in September of 1913, even though the death was in Washington. I am guessing it was Washington DC because because of the mention of the Inaugration. Apparently it was still deemed to be of local interest, with the General Custer connection. Custer after all did spend much of his early life in Michigan.

20 March 19, Fremont TimesIndicator.


Was One of Tribe That Slaughtered Custer and His Men—Contracted Cold During Inaugural Parade.

Washington March 17.—Hollow Horn Bear, chief of the Sioux, died at the Providence hospital here. The chief who was sixty-four years old was stricken with pneumonia which resulted from a cold contracted during the inaugural parade. He was ill for more than a week, but with Indian stoicism he said nothing about it. When it was discovered he had pneumonia there was no hope for his life.

Hollow Horn Bear was a member of the band which slaughtered Custer and his men.

I want to raise the question, why was someone who would have been the enemy in the battle, be marching in the Inaugural parade? Or even there to just watch, if that was the case?

08 December 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Ashland Cemetery

I must confess that this week's cemetery is one that I have not visited although it is located in the county. These pictures come from the pictures we have on file here at the library. As you can see it has mature trees and is a lovely setting.
Here is one of those "tree stump" memorial stones, indicating that here are the Barnum's who were cut down. How typical that nothing is written on the scroll. The name is only on the base portion. Notice on the right the marble slab stone that has apparently broken off at one time as it is laid flat on the ground now.
I stopped at this picture assuming the massive granite stone was fairly recent. Then I noticed the death date of 1913 for Milton. At least he has a date. Poor wife Theresa only has a birth date. the death was left blank. Notice too that they were much more clever at that time. They left time for the complete year, not just 19__. So many stones were labeled thus later, only to have deaths in the 21st century!
I am a sucker for a good homemade stone. I am unable to make out the name on this one.
Can you tell Michigan has areas that are quite stony? There are many field stone homes and in cemeteries decorations of stone and cement baskets. This however is the first stone toadstool I have come across.
Below is one of the clasped hand stones. Farewell.
But can you make out the name? While these stones with the male and female hands are usually erected for the deceased wife, this stone clearly states Henry Wolver.
I don't know whose stone this is from, but isn't the detailing of the flowers wonderful?

As I mentioned this is a mature and well used cemetery, still in use. You can see the grass is beaten down and can not grow by this monument. The inscription around the wreath on the side is "TO THE UNION DEAD." Note the uniformed figure on top and the crossed swards on the side.

05 December 2009

Obituary—Thos. Deroy Ish Passes Suddenly

The following is one of the obituaries appearing in what we call the “Black Camel of Death” issue of the Fremont Times Indicator, 16 February 1922.

Popular Under-Sheriff Dies While on Duty In Court Room.

Thomas Deroy Ish, under-sheriff, stricken while on duty in the court room at White Cloud, died at his home in Fremont at 5:30 the same day.

Two years ago the popular official had a bad heart attack and although the picture of ruddy health, he knew the danger that hung over him daily like a sward of Damocles. Because of this he had been careful of over-exertion and undue excitement.

Feeling unfit to attend the present term of court, his spirit urged him to his duty and he went. During the afternoon the jurymen wanted water and Mr. Ish climbed the stairs with a heavy pail of the fluid. The heart could not stand the strain and began its erratic throbbing.

Friends took Mr. Ish to the train, after telephoning a local physician to meet him. The under-sheriff got out of the coach and walked to the waiting machine in which he was taken home where medical aid was unsuccessfully given.

Thomas Deroy Ish was born on the old homestead in Dayton township, Jan. 4, 1869. Growing to manhood as a farmer boy, Deroy bought 80 acres in Muskegon county where he lived for a brief time. Renting his farm he came to Fremont and engaged in the agricultural machinery business. Later Ish & Westgate were liverymen, Mr. Ish finally buying out his partner and continuing the business alone for a period.

For two terms, “Roy” Ish, as he was popularly known, was under-sheriff. He was a member of the local Odd Fellow lodge, a sociable, kindly, red-blooded fellow who made friends and kept them.

He was married April 15, 1893 the bride being Miss Lena Place, of Greenwood, Oceana county. The wedding was celebrated in Fremont. Of this union one child was born, Benjamin Ish, now 10 years of age. The son, the wife and two brothers, Theodore C., of the old homestead in Dayton township, and Albert M. of Pontiac are left to mourn his going.

The funeral was held Monday from the house at 1:30 p.m. and from the Methodist Episcopal church at 2, Rev Mr. Atkinson in charge. Brial was in Clark cemetery, adjoining the old home of the deceased in Dayton township. Brother Odd Fellows assisted at the services.

Fremont has many good fellows, but probably none of these have more real friends than had Thomas Deroy Ish. He had the quality of winning friendship and being loyal. In summing up, no greater thing can be said of a man than this.

Whew. That was a long one. Many lf the obits from this time period were quite long, especially if a well know local or public figure.

03 December 2009

Obituary—Mr Zeno Edgerton

Another in the series of old obits we have in our archives. They went into such detail back then. No story was too bloody it would seem.

From the 15 February 1871 Fremont Times Indicator.

FATAL ACCIDENT—A shocking accident occurred in the woods in Ensley township, Newaygo county on the 23d ult., resulting in the death of Mr. Zeno Edgerton of Algoma, Kent county. The unfortunate man was engaged in felling trees, and while cutting one loose from the stump—the gree having fallen and lodged in a binding position—a part of it flew sideways and struck one of his legs below the knee, and cut if off apparently—says our informant—as smoothly as it could have been done with a broad ax. The severed foot, in its boot was left where he stood and he was thrown bodily about twenty feet. He was immediately taken to the nearest house and a Physician called, but death relieved him of his sufferings in a few hours after the accident. –Grand Rapids Press

As I said, no story was too bloody back then. And apparently this was reprinted from the Grand Rapids Michigan newspaper.

02 December 2009

Strange Experience

I feel like Mark Twain today. 
When I looked through the local paper today, I checked out the obituaries as usual.  This time I was startled to see my name, from my hometown.  Whoa.
Wait, it was my maiden name, and I'm still here.  It is a strange experience to see your own name in the obituaries when you live in a small town and know so many people.  The strange thing was that I didn't know this woman whose married name was my maiden name. 
It seems that reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

01 December 2009

Black Camel--Revisited

My talented co-blogger brought up the Black Camel of Death at her family Thanksgiving dinner.  (Isn't it amazing the things we genealogists like to talk about?)  And she got some surprising information. 
Apparently there was quite a popular poem about the Black Camel of Death.  Sandy's mother and mother-in-law both remembered it.  The In-Law could practically recite the whole thing.  Back in the early 1900's ( I won't say how early) apparently children memorized it in school.  (Boy, had school changed by the time I attended.)
So, now we are trying to come up with the original poem.  Any help would be appreciated.

Tombstone Tuesday--Amish Cemetery

While some may see our western Michigan county as less diverse as many communities, we do have many ethnic groups. One of the flourishing cultures is our Amish communitee. They have been in the county many years and have a small cemetery that as you can see below is still in current use.
Some of the markers are very simple, as seen below.
But others are more modern, in pink granite and many are decorated with flowers.

Here is one simple and possibly hand hewn stone for Ella Chupp, with a simple flower also engraved in the stone.

One older area shows the outlines of the family plot, containing one large monument and at least one smaller stone.
Not often in cemeteries do you see these older monuments still decorated with flowers. Usually the family and friends are long gone, and the deceased has been all but forgotten.