05 October 2010

Tombestone Tuesday--Stearns Prairie Cemetery

 The Stearns Prairie Cemetery is a very old cemetery in Newaygo County.  Located in Croton township, just a couple miles from the Muskegon River, our transcript shows burials dating back to 1850's.  Although this was once logging country, the deaths listed show many women as well as men, civil war veterans and children. 
 As you can see behind the sign, Stearns Prairie is well maintained.  The grass is closely clipped, the weeds cleared.  Then fence appears sturdy and in good repair.  Yet Stearns Prairie Cemetery has feeling of sadness that can hit you as you look over it.
 There are not many recent burials.  The pictures show many flowers left on graves, but few modern markers.  The most recent burial I can find in our admittedly old transcript is for Lloyd B. Davison, who died in 1977.  It appears he died at the age of 49 and was buried next to John L and Ruth A Davison. who died in 1955 and 1962.  A single man perhaps, buried alongside his parents?  It seems likely. 

 Most of the rest of the burials in the transcript are dated from the 1850's to 1880's.  Some probably have no markers at all any longer.  See the above curious remnant.  It appears to be made of cement.  but with a lower center, that is now filled with debris and weeds. It is hard to tell if it is a deteriorated monument, or what.  I am leaning to the idea of a handmade urn, from cement that has perhaps been sunk into the ground, or partially collapsed.

 This row of graves along one edge show that whoever is lying there has not been forgotten.  Flowers on nearly every marker.  And from the overgrown background, you can see that the cemetery has kept been mowed regularly.
 This stone has no apparent markings.  It appears to be marking a grave.  With all of the early burials here, it is very possible that a simple yet distinctive field stone was used to mark the grave of a loved one.
 Here is the marker for Julia, wife of Nathan Bogardus.  It appears to be made of marble with a hand chiseled engraving: Born February 14 1847, Died Aug 13 1886.  As is true of many of the earlier stones, she died fairly young. 
 This is a lovely, well cared for stone, and well preserved as well.  It marks the resting place of Phebe Ann, wife of Cyrus P. Deming.  She died 29 August 1953, at the age of 22.  The stone is in remarkable condition, considering many of those located here have been broken, weathered, and just plain worn. 
 This stone of the Allen family is standing strong and clear.  Obviously it has been sheltered by the lilac bush that nearly surrounds it. The inscription: James Allen--Father   29Y 3 M 22 D. He died 17 Sept 1859.  And also on the same stone: Margaret Harris, wife of James Allen--27Y 3 M 19 D.  She died a little over a year later on 30 August 1960.  They both died so young.  Since the inscription Father is on James's section, I wonder what happened to their child.
Above is an example of one of the broken stones.  It appears to have been wrapped with a piece of wire?   I am unable to find a name in the transcript that fits what bits of inscription I can make out. 
And finally this monument: Sacred to the memory f Merlin Hunter.  Died Aug 25, 1855.  Aged 73 Yrs. 3 mos. 28dys.
Obviously he lived longer than many that are buried here.  The condition of the stone is remarkable, if it was erected near the time of his death.    I do like that this, as well as several other stones in this cemetery have been supported in some manner.  Perhaps that was what the wire on the previous stone was for.

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