07 September 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--St. John's Cemetery

This week's cemetery threw me for a loop. It is hard to give an informed report on a cemetery, when we have nothing about it.
We do have pictures and they include a shot of the sign for St. John's Cemetery. However, I could find no record of a St. John's Catholic Church. We have no transcript of the cemetery. But, it is shown in the Library of Michigan's Michigan Cemetery Atlas, dated 1991. St. John's is located in Ensley township, section 11. It is almost directly across from North Ensley cemetery, located in section 2. I dug deeper.
Armed with this information, and a brief paragraph in the book Grant Area, Yesterday and Today I felt I was getting somewhere. (It was locally published in 979 and is the history of that area of the county that includes Ensley Township.) That in turn lead me to Pioneer Parade, which is a history of Ensley Township assembled in 1978 by the Ensley Historical Committee.
There I hit pay dirt. There was a photograph of a narrow wood framed white church labeled St. John's Roman Catholic Church. It was erected in 1881 sometime after the first services were held in the 1870 in the home of an Irish family named Kinney. The cemetery was formed in the church yard. The Pioneer Parade states, at the time of publication, except 1971-72, the cemetery has been maintained by descendants of the original Kinney family.
The monument above was erected in 1889 for John Kinney, Sr. As one of the leading parishioners, and one who donated the land, he was able to choose the first lot according to the Pioneer Parade, and he chose what was then front row center. A very impressive piece of Vermont marble.
This lovely tall stone is not a Kinney, but the exact name is unclear. Perhaps Lauder. But probably still a Kinney relative. The Pioneer Parade reports that approximately 100 persons are buried here. Most stones bear the name of Kinney, and many that do not, were probably related through marriage.
Many of the stones here are the taller style, which were quite typical of the late 1880's
Here is another Kinney monument, with great detailing and bordered plot. John Kinney's large massive stone in in the background.
This more secluded area shows a grave covered with what I believe to be creeping myrtle. According again to the Pioneer Parade, the cemetery as well as the church, were patterned after what they had left in Ireland. The Kinney family sent back to Ireland for the creeping myrtle that reportedly covered the cemeteries "back home." Many of the picture we have show this dark, low lying ground cover in the cemetery.
I don't know if in the last 30 years or so if the Kinney family still maintain the cemetery, or if it has come under the township. But it is clear that in this area of the county, one family made quite a difference.

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