28 February 2010

Obituary--August Augusten

This is one of the older obituaries, copied from the Fremont paper, it is credited as coming from the White Cloud Eagle. Obviously comes from the time when we still had many lumber camps in the region.

12 November 1879 Fremont Times Indicator.

--A horrible accident occurred at David herrens camp in Ensley, Newaygo county, last Friday. while August Augusten was felling a pin tree it fell and struch another small beech tree, whil fell back and struck Augusten on the head, smashing the back side of it badley and breaking his neck and right arm at the elbow and the left leg in three places. he was blind in one eye, (then what was this man doing cutting trees if he was half blind?) and probably did not see the tree coming toward him. Mr Augusten was a man of sober and industrious habits, about 33 years of age and a native of Sweden. His body was taken to his friends in Sparta, Kent county. He leaves a wife and two small children in destitute circumstances. A purse of $30 was made up between Mr. Herren and the boys of his camp.-- Eagle.

26 February 2010

Obituary--Louis Putnam

In another of the unusual deaths, I present Mr. Putnam. This is another where the reporting is so different from what would be found in a community weekly paper today.

From the 9 October 1913 Fremont Times Indicator


Louis Putnam, Aged 58 Years, is Strangled to Death When Sleeve Catches in Machinery

Louis Putnam, Aged 58 years met a violent death in Wolters Bros.' grist mill in the north side of town about five o'clock Tuesday afternoon. No one witnessed the accident and it is not definitely known just how it occurred, but the position of the body when found indicated the probable course of the accident which caused the man's death.
It is believed that Mr. Putnam went up to the third floor of the building to inspect some machinery. While there his sleeve caught in a sprocket wheel from which the chain had been removed. It appears that one of his arms was drawn violently across his neck and over his shoulder thus strangling him to death. The sprocket wheel upon which his sleeve caught was revolving at the rate of sizty revolutions a minute. The bones of one arm were broken in severaal places, but the body was not mutilated.
Mr. Putnam was seen for the last time about 20 minutes before the body was discovered. He was then assisting John Wolters, one of the members of the firm, in preparing a grist for a patron of the mill. He was grinding flour just previous to this.
After he had disappeared Mr Wolters discovered that the belt on the dynamo was sliping and he shut down the machinery. Before starting up again he went through the mill to notify the employees, a precaution always followed, and found the miller's body suspended from the machinery on the third floor.
Mr Putnam has been in the employ of Wolters Bros. for about three years and came here from Shelby. During his residence here he has made many friends and has been popular with those who have become acquiainted with him.
Besides a wife he leaves three sons, namely Frank Putnam of Kalamazoo, Harold Putnam of Benton Harbor and Albert Putnam of South Haven.
It is probable that the body will be taken to Niles for burial.

And sure enough, a note in the paper a week later said:

The funeral services of Louis Putnam, who was killed in Wolter's grist mill last week Tuesday, were held at the family residence in the northeast part of the city last Thursday afternoon. Rev. J. F. Bowerman, pastor of the Methodist church, officiated. The body was removed Friday to Niles for burial and was accompanied by the members of the immediate family.

Thankfully these work-related injuries like this and some of the previous have been prevented in recent years for factory workers.

23 February 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Davenport Cemetery East

This week, the alphabet takes us to Davenport Cemetery. And I see that our picture file is divided to Davenport East and Davenport West. So we will only tackle East this week.
Unlike East and West Hesperia cemeteries, which are located in different counties on each side of the village of Hesperia, Davenport simply straddles Beech Avenue, close to the northern border of the county.
I love this tall monument of the McFarland family, with the individual stones aligned beside it. And notice the massive Davenport stone behind it. I noticed many large stones for the Davenport family in the pictures, obviously a large family from the area, and perhaps they donated the land.
I notice that much of the area seems to be bounded in family plots. While some of them are well maintained, this one is not. At first I was upset over the neglect. Upon closer look, I think there are Iris leaves amidst the grass. It doesn't need mowed, just a good weeding. Notice how the right side of the front has small field stone pressed into the cement. This rolling countryside has a lot of stones and it is a common sight to see the smaller field stones used as ornamentation for borders and baskets.
It may be hard to make out in the above picture, but this peaceful corner of the cemetery exhibits one of my favorite local decorations, a cement basket, imbedded with stones. My great- and great-great-grandparents in a cemetery a few miles north of here have a similar basket with a cement handle, again coated with the stones.
Some people take the idea of tombstones so literally! I don't kniw if this smallish rock is a grave stone, or simply a random field stone. Perhaps the sexton isn't sure either. Otherwise I am sure it would be a bother when it comes time to mow!
Such a simple stone this one is. Obviously a gravestone here, with the initials M. B. H. scraped into the hard rock. The age is difficult to read, it may say just Age 8, or it may be 80-something.
The family of Colton Carpenter obviously went all out. Not only the family name near the top but his full name near the bottom and all sorts of carving with flowers and a palm frond. and I love the rough-hewn look of the rest of the stone.
Another massive stone, that of Rosetta and Fitch Turk. Even though its foundation is crumbling it still is in good shape. And although rather dark, and hard to make out, it does have some beautiful engraving around the top of the stone.
All in all, Davenport East is a lovely cemetery. I have some of my roots in the area, and grew up in a similar area, with the hills and farms in the background. The hills make some lovely scenic vistas. Truly a beautiful place to rest in peace.

21 February 2010

Obituary--Arthur Noble

I will admit, this obit first caught my eye because the last name was the same as my hubby's aunt's husband. He doesn't appear to be related, although could be. Another unusual death, by tipping bus.

From the 13 January 1922 Fremont TimesIndicator.



Arthur Noble of Newaygo was killed about a mile and a half east of Bishop yesterday morning when the Newaygo-Muskegon motor bus tipped over on the hill near the Swedish church. The only occupant of the bus, the driver, Ralph McNeill was uninjured.

The bus was being driven slowly down the hill when the driver was compelled to turn aside to avoid a team. The dirt on the side of the road was loos and gave way, causing the heavy motor vehicle to tip over on its side. As the car was tipping, Mr. Noble attempted to avoid the crash when he was caught by the top of the car and was crushed to death. The driver was uninjured and the bus was not damaged. Had Mr. Noble remained in the car it is probable that he would have escaped injury.

The deceased was on his way to Muskegon on a business trip. He was an electrician in the plant of the Newaygo Portland Cement Co. He is well known in this community having spent his boyhood on a farm west of the city. He was a brother of Ernest E. Noble, local photographer.

Mr Nobel is survived by his wife and a daughter, Miss Garnet Nobel.

Bishop was one of those small communities, that is today is simply known as Bishops Corners. At one time there was quite a little settlement, but now is just a couple houses on a busy corner. A week later in the 20 July 1922 Fremont TimesIndicator one of the community gossip columns made note of his passing.


Much gloom was cast on this neighborhood when the news came last Wednesday that Art Noble had met with a serious accident causing death instantly. He was born and raised in Greenwood until about 20 years ago when he moved to Newaygo. He is survived by his wife, one daughter, two sisters Mrs Fred Walter and Mable Noble of Greenwood, and one erother E Noble of Fremont. He will be greatly missed in this community as he was a frequent visitor at the old home and in the neighborhood. Much sympathy is extended to the bereaved relatives.

19 February 2010

Obituary--George Trumbley

Unusual death again. This time by sliding gravel. The area I grew up in, closer to Hesperia, Dayton and Greenwood townships, and on northward have a lot of gravel pits and rocky farmlands.

From 19 January 1922 Fremont Times Indicator



George Trumbley of Stewart Avenue, Fremont, was killed Thursday morning at 8:30 o'clock while loading gravel in the Dayton township pit, a mass of frozen dirt rolling down upon him. The injured man was rushed to Gerber Memorial Hospital by Road Commissioner C. H. Love, but upon arrival, life was extinct.

At the time of the fatality a score of men, drivers and shovelers, wer in the pit, Commissioner Love being on top of the load in the Trumbley wagon, placing Gravel chunks. Mr Trumbley and five others were on the bank side of the wagon loading. Suddenly and without the usual filtering of sand usually proceding a movement of size, te clod started, turned over and fell upon the unfortunate man, striking him in such a manner as to throw him forward against the front wheel, his chin comng in contact with the rim of thw wheel, breaking his neck and jaw. His legs and one hip were crushed and his body bruised, unconsciousness saving him pain.

None of the other loaders was injured by the falling dirt, the team turning upon command of Mr Love and also escaping.

The Dayton gravel pit is located on the Clark farm, nine miles northwest of Fremont. The gravel was being hauled to the Stumpy Corners road west. Commissioner Love has used all possible caution in loading and no blame attaches to anyone. Repeated warnings have been given to the men to beware of falling gravel. At this time of year the banks are liable to develop mass pieces set by frost. To avoid danger, dynamite shots always are followed by personal investigation of the bank from aboe to see if cracks exist. In this case the dynamiting had been going on that spot and just what caused the clod to fall in the manner noted is problematical. Commissioner Love says the entire rolling piece contained not more than three-fourths of a yard of dirt.

The deceased lived on the old Ed Kennedy farm, five miles north of Fremont, and one mile east of Stumpy Corners. He bought the place about a year ago where he has since resided with his one son, about 20 years of age, and his wife who succeed him.

Joe Trumbly the father lived for many years in Garfield township and George spent a large part of his life on the home farm.

The funeral services, following a prayer at the father's home were held at the Congregational church, Saturday afternoon, Rev Magdanz officiating, where many sympathizing friends and neighbors paid tribute to the deceased man's propularity in the community. Interment was in Maple Grove cemetery.

Obituary Note
George Leland Trumbley was born Sept. 29, 1877 in the township of Garfield, Newaygo county, Mich. He passed from this life Jan. 12, 1922 at the age of 44 years, 3 months and 13 days. He leaves to mourn his going, wife and son, father and mother, brother and sister.

Totally a local boy, and if the gravel pit is the one I think it was, it may be closed now but was in active use into the last have of the 1960's at least, when I lived nearby. It was probably open even longer, but I don't have the figures handy.

16 February 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Danish Cemetery

Our county, in its earlier days not only had a large influx of people from the Netherlands, but also a sizable Danish community. They even had a school where they continued to teach, not only regular high school subjects, but also the crafts and customs of their heritage.
The Danish School and the cemetery are both located in Ashland township of Newaygo county. The pictures show a smallish but well kept up cemetery, and it appears to be in current usage.
Some of the older massive stones reflect the flourishing community. Here Hans Mortensen apparently predeceased his wife Elsebeth. Her death date is not recorded on the larger stone. Perhaps the "Mother" stone close by was hers.

This stone, inscribed with a simple cross and the words "Minde over Jes Christensens" and then perhaps the word Son scratched below. The only date is 1884. Perhaps an infants stone but it's rugged simplicity has a solid beauty to it.
Another large and massive stone. I cannot make out any names--perhaps because of the lighting. But I can see that it is engraved both on the tall section and the middle base stone. A beautiful marker.
I love this stone, simple because it fits right in with my great- and great-great-grandparents. Otto here died in 1912, while my relatives died a little later. They too have the same pink stone, although they are north of the county. And they too, are in constant danger of having grass growing over them. I have repeatedly told my sons, I do not want a flush tombstone, but one that stands solid and above the ground level.
Here in this wider angle the newer pink and white stones blend with the massive rough hewn granit as well as others that may be marble, but area clearly older. Notice the filled urn, showing that possibly family or friends still remember.
New stones, old stones, tall stones, flat stones. Mown grass and a vine covered fence. What a peaceful resting place.

13 February 2010

Obituary--Peter Christianson

Yet another strange death. The headline of the article says it all. And notice that the word "alleged" never appears in the article. It takes place a little more than 2 years after the start of Prohibition, which was January 1920.

From the 6 April 1922 Fremont Times Indicator.



Moonshine whiskey is said to have been a contributing factor in the quarrel which resulted in the murder of Peter Christianson, store keeper at Bitely, last Sunday. Leo Robert Wolters, age 24 who stabbed Christianson several times while the latter, who is 55 years old was choking him was taken into custody by Sheriff McKinley and made a statement before Prosecuting Attorney Branstrom Monday.
Wolters was born in Hillaman Michigan and at the age of eight years was sent to the Industrial school for boys at Coldwater where he remain for a period of two years. At the end of this time he was taken to the home of Mrs Wilhemina Christianson of Bitely where he has since made is home. For some time past he has been employed as an extra fireman for the Pere Marquette railroad.
According to Wolters' story, he and Christianson started from Bitely about 9 o'clock sunday morning and drove to the Hood farm in Beaver township where they took in Fred Johnson who accompanied them to the Heiss farm about five miles away. Here, Wolters said, he, Christianson and Johnson, in company with Theodore Heiss had numerous drinks of moonshine whiskey. They then drove back to bitely, reaching there shortly after dark. Christianson, according to Wolters story, was ugly and surly on the return trip and after they left the car he attacked Wolters, forcing the latter to protect himself. Wolters then walked over to the store where remained for a few minutes. Upon leaving he again encountered Christianson who grabbed him by the throat and was choking him when the young man took from his pocket a hunting knife and stabbed his assailant in the abdomen several times.
Following the encounter Christianson went into the store and up-stairs where he was found dead a few minutes later. Wolters said that Christianson was always quarrelsome and ugly when he had been drinking and believed that the murder would not have occurred if it had not been for the moonshine whiskey. He said that he and the murdered man were always on friendly terms when he was sober but when drunk Christianson seemed to have it in for him.

Boy, does this one leave me with questions. Was anyone else interviewed? What about Johnson or Heiss? What does the Sheriff have to say? Or is he trying to locate Heiss and the source of the moonshine whiskey? Obviously there was Mirandizing done back then. Did Wolters get prosecuted? And what about the fact that the name of the woman with home he "made his home" was also Christianson? Was this some kind of family issue?
Reporting back then left much to be desired.

11 February 2010

Obituary--Madison Smith

Another in my series of unusual deaths. This one involves a farm implement called a hay tedder. It was used to "fluff" up the hay before raking into windrows for baling. Warning--it is fairly graphic.

from the 17 July 1913 Fremont Times Indicator


Prominent Farmer Living West of Fremnt Was Mangled Beneath a Hay Tedder Last Friday.

Madison Smith, a prominent farmer living 3 1/2 miles west of this city met a tragic death while working in his hay field last Friday. the accident occurred between nine and ten o'clock. While driving a hay tedder, one of the horses attached to the machine kicked over the tongue thus breaking it off. This frightened the horses who soon became uncontrollable. When the frantic animals commenced to run the broken tongue gouged the earth, throwing Mr Smith from the seat. In his effort to subdue the frightened horses he wound the reins around his hands. When he fell under the machine it is probable that he was unable to free himself from the lines.
Mr. Smith was dragged about 80 rods across the field, his head and shoulders being beneath the forks of the tedder. The machine was in gear during the runaway.
Dr. Long was summoned immediately but life expired within a few minutes after his arrival. Mr Smith was unconscious from the time of the accident and lived about a half hour.
Mr. Smith's daughter, a girl of about 12 years was riding on the machine with him and it is probably that he threw her off in order that she might escape injury. She sustained only lght bruises on the head and leg.
James Madison Smith was born in Newaygo County March 25 1866 and was 47 years, 3 months and 16 days at the time of his death. In 1896 he married Martha A Bennet, of Brookside and three children, two daughters and a son, were born to this union. Mrs Smith passed away in July 1912. The three children, together with his aged father and mother survive him.
The funeral services were held at the home Sunday afternoon conducted by Rev. R. A. thibos, pastor of the Church of Christ and were attended by a large concourse of relatives and friends. Burial took place in Clark cemetery.

An unusual and tragic means of death. Life was tough and uncertain nearly 100 years ago. Factory workers, lumber men and farmers all had to face the possibility at all times.

09 February 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Curtice Cemetery

Yet another of the many county cemeteries I have not visited. But I will. The reason? One day, several years ago, when reviewing these pictures, my co worker called to me to ask if I was related to a "C J Cross'. After repeating the name to myself several times, I had a "Well, Duh!" moment. My father's grandfather! While we knew him as Jesse, his real name was Calvin Jesse. And there was his stone.Great Grandpa Jesse's stone was remarkable to me when I first saw the picture. It was a cement stone, painted silver, with the lettering looking as though someone had carved in the damp cement with a nail. And that may have been the case. However looking through our file pictures from the cemetery, I discovered several other stones about the same general shape as his, but with molded lettering. See below.
Jesse's stone is in the background here, on the left next to the earn. The central stone with the name Thomas is also cement, and also painted silver. It is placed between two granite stones that look much newer. The carving of the granite stones is hard to see in this picture, but when I look at a enlarged version there are deeply carved flowers outlined around the border. The remind me of the early to mid 20th century stones of other family members. The center stone, shaped similarly to Great Gramps, has clearly molded letters and decoration in the center. You can also see the lines of the mold along the edges.
Here below is another stone that, when closely studied, also appears to be of cement. Again a finer molding of the design on front--sort of a double heart inscribed Rest in Peace. The name on the top is difficult to make out even in the enlarged version.
The stone below in contrast looks quite modern. The person it remembers however is one of the earlier burials, dying in 1914. In perusing the transcript we have of Curtice Cemetery, only a handful died earlier.
Most of the names in the transcript show death dates from the early 1920's on into the 1960's, with a few beyond.
Even this large stone in front, for the David family appears with close scrutiny to be made of cement. As with the others, a closeup view shows the wear and pebbles poking to the service. The large stone near the shrub is too dark to tell the material it is made from.
This pictures shows the back of the above scene and the other side of the bordered plot.
The presence of these cement stones causes me to wonder if other cemeteries have this much cement work as well? Did I simply realize it because of Great Grandpa Jesse's stone? Have I overlooked them in other cemeteries?
Or was this a factor of the geographic location? Northern Newaygo county has gravel and marl that were used in the production of cement. Was there a local craftsman or business who specialized in grave markers using local materials?
Definitely worth pondering as well as researching.

06 February 2010

Obituary--LaVerne Bondeville

Another in the series of unusual ways to die.

From the 14 September 1922 Fremont Times Indicator.


LaVerne bondville, aged 19, slipped and fell Sunday into the cement conveyor at the plant of the Portland Cement company, Newaygo, where he was employed, and died of his injuries.
The young man was alone in the basement at the time. Although his body was drawn into the machinery and one foot pulled off, Bondville worked himself loose and then crawled 50 feet to a ladder. He climbed the six foot ladder and then reached the laboratory 75 feet away, where he obtained aid. The leg was amputated at the knee in an effort ot save his life, but he was summoned late Sunday evening.
The young man resided with his parents in Newaygo.

Obviously in the days before OSHA. After crawling 125 feet, besides the ladder, I can only imagine the cause of death was blood loss or shock.

04 February 2010

Obituary-- George Convis

I have been reviewing old obituaries and after the last one from my farm, and the one from my Hubby's great uncle who dropped dead while leading a cow down the "highway" (term highway used very loosely.) I have been inspired to post a series obituaries that have rather unusual ways of dying. Not all will be farm related however.
Having been on the outside of a pen when cattle loading time comes, I can understand how these things can happen. At least we use a truck and trailer.

2 November 1922 Fremont times Indicator, as a reprint from the Hart Courier

Hart Courier--
George Convis, 72, was instantly killed Wednesday afternoon about 2:30 when a three year old bull he was leading suddenly became infuriated and turned on him bunting him against the cement wall of the barn.
Mr Convis had sold the animal to John bothe and with George Blackmer was attempting to deliver it to Bothe's slaughter house. Mr Convis was walking ahead leading it by a leading stick and George Blackmer was in the rear holding the animal back with a 20 foot rope. The animal had been the stall in the barn for the past six months, but seemed all right when taken out and until about 15 feet outside, then it suddenly became maddened and plunged for Mr Convis bunting him up against the barn and then bunting him again in the forehead. The animal then sttod quietly looking at Mr. Convis whil Mr. Blackmer pulled with all his might on the rope that was about its neck, then it suddenly turned and ran down into a field where Mrs Blackmer and some neighbors followed it and shot it. Mr Convis had implicit confidence in the animal and had suggested delivering him alone. He had owned it a long time and had always found it friendly.
Dr. Wood was immediately called following the accident and made an examination of the body of Mr Convis, expressing his belief that death came instantly, in all probability resulting from a broken neck.
Having been around our beef cattle, I can only say--What was he thinking? Of course, Hubby recently sold a heifer who he had kept saying was calm and tame. He was able to pet her while feeding her. He couldn't figure out why she went crazy when he tried to wash her before taking to the sale barn. She also frightened the men in the ring with her while being sold. And this was a bull in the obit. You never can trust them. Yikes!

02 February 2010

Posting note

Just a note to followers:
Sandy, who is my co-poster on this blog, is having surgery today. It is repairing work on her ankle and tendons that were broken a year ago. She will be off work for some time, as well as heavily medicated. So for a while at least posts will be few and far between from her. And if you see one from her that looks a little loopy. Well, for the time being, we can blame the medication.

Tombstone Tuesday--Culp Cemetery

This is another of the county cemeteries I have not visited. With none of my family from the eastern part of the county, I have never visited it.
I do enjoy going through the pictures for each cemetery as I prepare these posts. Each of them have their own particular flavor. I especially like the old-fashioned wire fence surrounding Culp Cemetery. I also noticed that while the ground was well maintained, I did not see any modern granite stones. You can see that the background looks fairly empty here.
And indeed, when digging out the listings in the transcript book we show only 3 surnames in this cemetery--Culp, Daggett, and Rice. The most recent listed is 1875. I venture to guess that not all the stones are still readable or even visible.
Below you can see the condition of some of the stones. They are also visible in the picture above.
The darker set of stones appear to be for at least two different people. Maybe even three, as the stone still standing appears to wide to match the two pieces leaning and lying down. All the pieces are too dark and too weather weary to make out the inscription. The nearly buried stone may read Mary E, but not sure. The lighter stone, when I view a larger view of the stone, appears to have a picture of a lamb on the top, but the names are still illegible.
This broken stone appears to be made of cement. Unadorned except for the name inscribed it has been carefully laid on another piece of cement. I cannot match the letters I can read with any of the names in the transcript. This is one of the ones that lead me to believe not all of the names are listed. Notice that the ends of the stone above do not appear to match the broken section of the cement slab below it. Is that another tombstone?
As is so often the case, in the same cemetery here is this stone, barely touched by the elements. The name of William Erastus. son of William and Catherine Rice is clearly visible. Even the script at the very bottom appear to be still clean and crisp. Interestingly, the graves of William and Catherine do not appear anywhere in the cemetery transcript.
Overall as I look at the pictures we have of Culp Cemetery, the feeling I get is sadness. So many broken and possibly missing stones. The sight of the marble slabs laying flat on the ground is somewhat depressing.
I close with this stone that typifies Culp Cemetery. The name is only partially readable. I think it belongs to one of the Culp family members, possibly the Christopher listed in the transcript. The picture of the clasped hands, collecting sand as the stone lies quietly. The missing wedge from the side and next to it, the curved top of another stone.Somehow, I think that the rest for those in this cemetery was not peaceful. May they have it now.

01 February 2010

Part 2--Mrs Charles Kempf

There, I feel better now after my rant yesterday. Now, not to the elusive Mrs Charles Kempf.

One fact is that in the same house she and her family lived in, my husband and I were crowded with just our 2 boys. Where in our house would they have put that big a family? This is a drafty farmhouse, and the upstairs, although it does have 3 rooms, is unfinished—not to mention not well insulated and unheated. Brrrrrrrrr.

But the thing that really kept bothering me about Mrs. Kempf is the lack of her own identity. I poked and researched around and finally on the 1920 census found out that her name was Flora. They also lived with his parents during 1910 census. I also found her in the Holton Cemetery records. Listed as Flo Kempf in a grave purchased by Fred Kempf who was Charles’s father.
Charles later moved his family to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by the time of the 1930 census, along with his mother. That explains why I couldn’t find him or his children in the area.
I was so moved by this story of this young farm woman that I have decided to tell her story for our next cemetery walk. One of the almost nameless woman who helped make our country grow.
Unsung, but if I can help it, not forgotten.