12 October 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Surrerrar Cemetery

 Yes this really is a cemetery. Surrerrar is a very old cemetery that is no longer actively used. 
Located along eastern Newaygo county, this ancient cemetery is one that predates even our earliest white settlers.  Surrerrar Cemetery is one that was used by Indians long ago.  It was located near the crossways of several Indian trails and while probably not ever a location of a village, it was an area where they gathered and had meetings.
At one time, Indian mounds were discovered in the area.  Some of these old mounds were ones that were very unique in that the bodies were buried vertically, feet down/head up.  Very few of these style mounds were found in Michigan, other than the ones that were found here in Surrerrar.
A couple of our favorite local cemetery buffs helped in the rescue and preservation of Surrerrar Cemetery.  Andy Whitlock, shown above in the green tee, is the originator of http://theoctoberproject.com/, a website that has quite a bit of information on Newaygo County history, including information on Surrerrar and all of the cemeteries.  Most of our pictures are from his collection.  The woman is a descendant of pioneers who were buried here.  And the gentleman in the foreground on the right is Terry Wantz, our favorite local historian.  If you look closely, you will see in his hands the "dowsing rods"  or "witching sticks" that he has used to help determine the boundaries and numbers of bodies buried here.  People may scoff at these tactics but many of his finds have been verified by sonar and x-rays.  Behind Andy, there are some small flowers in a line that marks one side of the cemetery.  In the distance, the hayfield in front of the trees marks the farthest border.
Recent research, much done by Andy, Terry and co-blogger Sandy has determined that the cemetery was larger than originally thought.  Evidence of a homestead in the area has been spotted in the area.
In the past Surrerrar has been neglected and vandalized.  We hope that through the efforts of Andy, Terry and others to protect and preserve sites like this.

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