31 May 2010

In Loving Tribute to All Who Fought and Died for this Country

That haunting tune from the Civil War has words equally haunting.
Thank you soldiers.

    Fading light dims the sight,
    And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
    From afar drawing nigh -- Falls the night.

    Day is done, gone the sun,
    From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
    All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

    Then good night, peaceful night,
    Till the light of the dawn shineth bright;
    God is near, do not fear -- Friend, good night.

30 May 2010

From 1913--Memorial Exercises Will Be Private

So begins a rather sad article taken from the 22 May 1913 Fremont Times Indicator. I felt I had to post it today. No further comment is necessary from me.
MEMORIAL EXERCISES WILL BE PRIVATE Lack of Public Interest IN Most Sacred of Holidays Forces Veterans to Adopt New Course. The Decoration Day exercises which will be held Friday, May 30, will, for the first time in the history of Fremont, be of a private nature. Desecration of this most sacred of secular days has forced the local veterans of the Civil War to adopt this new course.
At a recent meeting of the Henry Dobson Post and the Women's Relief Corps the question of public exercise was discussed but the above course was decided upon. In recent years the public interest in the Memorial Day exercises has waned to a deplorable degree and, under the circumstances, the veterans believe they have adopted the only logical course. The annual Memorial sermon will be delivered by Rev. R. W. Paul at the Congregational church next Sunday. The members of the Post and Corps will meet at their hall ato 10 o'clock and will attend the services in a body. All old soldiers and their wives are urged to be present. The comrads are requested to wear their badges.
On Friday, May 30, the members of these two orders will meet at the G.A. A. hall at 9 o'clock. During the forenoon committees will decorate the graves in Evans, Jewell, Clark ad East Cemeteries. (That would be East Hesperia cemetery, located in Newaygo County.) Dinner will be served in the hall at 12 o'clock.
In the afternoon a short program will be rendered in the hall. These exercises will not be public. The Post and Corps will then go to Maple Grove cemetery where the ritual of the order will be used and the graves decorated.
All the comrades and their families are invited to attend all the exercises.

28 May 2010

Obituary--Walter S (Pabe) Dickinson

A sad story, with typical Mrs. Robertson detail. It is so sad how often, when life seems to be going so well, suddenly there is the Black Camel, kneeling at your door to take you for that last ride. (OK, I may have been reading too many Mrs. Robertson obituaries, now I am starting to sound like her.) This is the last in the series of official Mrs. Robertson obituaries although she may still pop up from time to time.

From the 21 January 1915 Fremont Times-Indicator:

Mrs Wm. Robertson, Correspondent

Mrs Mary Weaver received the sad intelligence last Wednesday that her nephew, Walter S. (Pabe) Dickinson, Orpheum performer was killed almost instantly in Kansas City when the heavy wooden canopy on the new Muhlback hotel that was erected to protect the people from the falling ricks, crashed to the ground without warning, killing two and injuring nine people. Mr. Dickinson was caught at the south end of the structure, as he was standing in front of the new Orpheum theater talking to the manager, who escaped injury. A heavy timber struck him on the head, fracturing his skull. He died on the way to the hospital. Walter S. Dickinson was a Hesperia lad who had his own way to make in life, being left an orphan at an early age. A few years ago he made the discovery that as an actor he had some talent, that as a Rube in plays he was a perfect actor. He cultivated his talent and became great. Mr Dickinson made his first appearance in Kansas City at the Empress theater, when he played on the Sullivan Elonsidine circuit, proving such a brilliant entertainer he was billed on Orpheum time two years ago, his act being considered one of the most clever rube acts on the stage today. At his opening performance at the Orpheum theater Saturday night in the role of an ex-justice of the peace, was one of the stars of the bill. In his "seedy" make-up he provoked laughter before speaking a word. Walter Dickinson was thirty nine years old and leaves a wife and lighter daughter. He was buried beside his mother and brother near Lincoln Neb. He had many friends in Hesperia, Fremont and Newaygo who will be sorry to learn of his untimely death, in the full flush of a brilliant career. The day before Mr. Dickinson was killed, he received a telegram from New York informing him he had been chosen comedian in the Schubert's new Winter Garden play and that a signed contract was on its way to him.

I have to wonder at Mrs. Robertson's methods. Did she carry a notebook with her constantly? Was she just on a large telephone party line and collect her news more surreptitiously? Since she knew so many people from teaching, did she just keep notes on people for use later? Was she someone whose arrival others noted with rolling of eyes and groans like Hyacinth Bucket, or was she a sweet old Aunt Bea type? I really enjoyed reading these old Mrs. Robertson obituaries and will definitely keep my eyes open for more.

26 May 2010

Obituary--Jasper Sweet

This is a rather short obituary, as well as a notice that was posted in another community's column as well. While this clipping does not mention Mrs. Robertson by name, the first sentence gives every indication of having been written by her.

From the 20 April 1916 Fremont Times-Indicator:

West Dayton
This community was very much shocked Saturday when news came flashing over the wire that Jasper Sweet was dead. Only a short time ago he with his wife left for Traverse city to visit Mrs. Sweet's sister, Mrs. Phoebe Forton, and shortly after reaching Traverse City Mr. Sweet was taken much worse. the bereaved family have the sympathy of the entire community. The funeral was held Wednesday at the home of his daughter, Mrs Frank Gates, in Fremont.

And elsewhere in the same issue of the paper, probably in the Fremont gossip/news section:

The body of Jasper Sweet, who died last Sunday while visiting relatives in Traverse City, was brought here Monday. Mr. Sweet was 48 years of age. The funeral services were held yesterday from the home of his daughter, Mrs Frank Gates, Rev. R. A. Thibos officiating.

Apparently Mrs. Robertson didn't know this family as well, if she was the writer. After the first statement of shock, she doesn't share any of the personal memories she so often inserts into the obits.

25 May 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Maple Grove Cemetery (Overview)

Maple Grove Cemetery is the main cemetery in the city of Fremont. The "new" cemetery if you will, established in 1879. I know I did do a brief posting on the cemetery before, but that was when our blog was still in the early days. Now that I've gotten my stride, I decided that Maple Grove deserved to be touched on again. In fact, I may even do a few weeks on it, since it is so big.
With the creation of Maple Grove, cemetery, the old Pioneer Cemetery became decayed and many families moved their family members to the new cemetery. In 1928 more were moved from Pioneer Cemetery and it was basically abandoned. (More on that cemetery in the future.)
Today, I'll focus on the overall cemetery. The entrance to Maple Grove is quite impressive, with the long approach. The drive through the cemetery has several loops both left and right as you get inside.
The cemetery is a bit rolling and has some majestic trees. In the summer, it is a favorite place for joggers and power walkers to exercise in the shade. My mother-in-law lived just down the street and our family found it a peaceful place for an "after a big dinner" stroll.
The big monument in the background here is the Civil War veterans memorial. When we did our Cemetery Walk a few years ago, a Civil War re-enactor set up his pup-tent nearby and did his talk in full uniform.
Not all the cemetery is shady, but it is well kept up and manicured. When Mr Charles Hoad was appointed sexton, in 1913, he helped to beautify it, planting many of the trees and sodding much of the area. Much of the charm of this cemetery come from the huge trees.
And in addition to the older areas shown above, There are many newer stones, both in the newly expanded sections and also scattered amongst the older graves.
We also have some gorgeous mausoleums. This one brings to mind the candy store owned by this family with marble counters.
And heck......
even the utility shed is impressive. Notice outline in the brick from the older door.
Next week or the following, I'll focus on individual graves, as well as the section known as the Indian Cemetery.

24 May 2010

Obituary--Mildred Wilson

Another in the "Mrs. Robertson" series. This one is credited to her as the correspondent. But even with out it, the style and phrases are all hers.

From the 2 December 1915 Fremont Times-Indicator:


Mrs. Wm. Robertson, Correspondent
The Body of Miss Mildred Wilson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wilson, was brought from Woodville for burial last Saturday. Mildred was born in Hesperia and when quite a girl she moved with her parents to a farm in Woodville where she died. She was a member of the Senior class in the White Cloud high school. A short time ago she was seized with an illness which proved to be tuberculosis. She was aware of her condition and was prepared. The night before she died her classmates sent her a beautiful wreath of roses. She was able to look at them and appreciate them and left loving messages to all. The wreath was placed with many other beautiful flowers on the casket. The funeral was held in Woodville Saturday, Rev. Cole officiating and on Sunday Rev. George Vanwingerden held a short service at the home of Mrs. George Seymour. The deceased would 21 years old in January. In the blush of young womanhood when life with all its possibilities was opening up before her, standing on the threshold of the future wondering what it had in store for her, the ruthless Reaper cut her down in her bloom and beauty, and we will still keep on asking, "why was it so." Sheaves a father, mother, two brothers and three sisters to mourn and many sorrowing relatives and friends. Interment in East cemetery.

One of the things I like about Mrs Robertson is she can be writing along in a fairly sober obituary and then she gets the creative streak acting up. "In the blush of young womanhood," "the ruthless reaper cut her down." She must have had a great romance novel bottled up inside her somewhere.

22 May 2010

Obituary--Israel Clark

This obituary is not credited to Mrs. Robertson in the original paper. A careful reading however, leads me to believe it must be one of hers. The setting is Hesperia; the town is shocked, there are minute details; and there is just the right touch of drama and sympathy.

From the 25 November 1915 Fremont Times Indicator:

Hesperia was again shocked last Thursday night when the news went forth that Israel Clark, another old pioneer, had suddenly died. Mr. Clark had retired for the night and was talking to his wife. She went to wait upon her aged bed-ridden mother and when she came back he was making a peculiar noise, and died without a struggle before Mrs. Clark could reach the 'phone to summon help. M.r Clark had not been in robust health but was able to go down to town every day. He came to Hesperia in 1877 and has not lived more than two miles away from it. Failing health made him give up the farm and they have lived in the village for several years. He served his country in its struggle during the civil war. He was married to Mrs. Celia Hale 36 years ago. No children were born to this union. Mrs. John McGhan, of Grand Rapids is their adopted daughter. Mr. Clark will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He was a quiet, inoffensive man and exemplary in his home surroundings. Mrs. Clark has the sincere sympathy of all. She is left alone with an aged mother who fell and broke her hip a few weeks ago and will never walk again. The funeral was held at the house at two o'clock Sunday afternoon. Rev. M. Klerekoper officiated. Many friends and old neighbors gathered to pay their last sad tribute of respect. The casket was covered with beautiful flowers, showing the esteem in which the deceased was held. Interment in East cemetery. Those attending the funeral from out of town were Mr. and Mrs. John McGhan, and Levi Waterman, of Grand Rapids and Geo. Boyer of Blue Island. Ill.

I just love the opening line of this obituary. Can't you just picture an turn of the century Paul Revere wannabe dashing from house spreading the news? Well, maybe, its just me.

20 May 2010

Obituary--Wm. Kennedy

It always intrigues me when I see familiar names in these obituaries. Growing up near Hesperia, and attending Hesperia schools, I recognize many of the surnames from that area. Hesperia was still under 1,000 people then and the same names still populate the region today. I wonder if I went to school with his great-grandchildren?

From the 5 August 1915 Fremont Times-Indicator:

Mrs Wm. Robertson, Correspondent

Wm. Kennedy died at his home at McLaren Lake last Friday after a long and painful illness with cancer of the stomach. His funeral was held at the McLaren school house last Sunday afternoon, Rev. Spultz, of Walkerville officiating. The funeral was largely attended and interment made in West cemetery. Mr Kennedy was a good citizen and a kind husband and father and an ardent upholder of the Wesleyan Methodist faith. He was 48 years of age and leaves a wife and four children, brothers and sisters and many other friends to mourn their loss. The writer has known Will Kennedy since he was a boy and always found him jolly and full of his jokes, and in his kindly way showing his appreciation of any effort the writer might make along her line. His kindly face and cheery voice will be missed from the haunts of men and it is with the greatest regret that we record his untimely death.

Less emotional and dramatic as some of her obituaries. Nonetheless she manages to bring her own memories of Mr. Kennedy into the article. But I have to wonder, did she never have to write about an old curmudgeon?

19 May 2010

Obituary --Mrs Jane Kingsford

This is another of our "Mrs Robertson" obituaries. She isn't quite as shocked as she often is, but simply reports the facts as she knows them in this obituary.

From 2 April 1914 Fremont Times-Indicator:

Mrs. Wm. Robertson Correspondent
Mrs. Jane Kingsford was found dead in her bed by her daughter, Mrs. Ethel Wolpert, last Wednesday morning. Mrs. Kingsford had been in poor health for some time but no one thought it serious. The funeral was held from the house on Friday at 2p.m., Rev. J Bretz officiating. Interment beside her husband in Doud cemetery. Mrs. Kingsford was one of the early settlers af Newaygo county, coming here when the country was quite new. Like all pioneer women she toiled with her husband in the building of a home. they lived in Dayton where her husband died in 1878. She lived there until two years ago when she went to live with her daughter, Mrs. James Wolpert, in Greenwood, Oceana county. She has long been a faithful member of the M. E. church in Hesperia and always active in church work. She leaves one daughter, Mrs James Wolpert, two granddaughters, Laura Wolpert and Gladys Caldwell, one grandson George Caldwell and many other relatives and friends to mourn their loss.
Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Wilbur and Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Leonard, of Fremont, attended the funeral of Mrs. Kingsford last Friday.

This is not nearly as flowery as I have come to expect from Mrs. Robertson. But she manages to still paints some images as she tells of toiling to build a home.
Even when she isn't shocked.

18 May 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Lincoln Township Cemetery

At first glance, Lincoln Township Cemetery appears to be a fairly new cemetery. A closer look at the sign though shows it was established in 1892. And judging from the field stones around the sign, even though this is a very flat cemetery, it is near the rocky and gravely part of the county.
Even a wide look over the cemetery shows lots of newer stones, although the older ones are also present.
This lovely stone of the Tripp family has some crisp carving. I do love all the detail in the carving. Even the words in the recessed area, "Blessed are the pure in heart," are easy to read. I assumed that George (1863-1943) and Margaret (1910-1913) were husband and wife until I read the dates. While I have seen children listed on the tall obelisk like stones, I have never seen one like this. Now I want to know if this was a daughter, and if so, where is the mother?
As I said there are still some older stones. These types of stones often had parents on one side and children and other relatives on adjacent sides. This stone for William L. Horton (1853-1914) and (presumably) his wife Montana M. (1870-1944) has a huge and wonderful urn beside it. I don't believe I have seen one on a pedestal that tall before.
Or course Lincoln Cemetery has its share of homemade markers as well. I saw at least three different graves with markers similar to the one below. All were well varnished but with different engravings. This one for Julius (Jule) B. Seitz (1923-1994)appears to have an deer's head with a full rack of antlers. Other graves had pictures showing engravings of a leaping fish and a guitar. The plot here has been bordered with landscape timbers and has a slab laying the the middle. With the flag planted next to the slap, it had the look of a military marker. I checked out our transcript but it was too old to have this grave listed.
Another hand-made marker is this one, made from an old saw blade. Painted and mounted in a metal framework, topped with a cross, it appears quite sturdy and durable. but notice anything unusual? No names! It has a picture, wedding date but no name or death info. My co-blogger Sandy lives in this township and says she thinks names may be on the back. I may have to send her out on a reconnaissance trip.
Then there is this one. I love it. Simple, stark. Can't you just picture it on Boot Hill or something?
This stone below I am not sure if is homemade or not. It appears like it could be cement and carved by hand. While the carving is easy to see, I am having trouble making it out. Possibly VanBlargan? With the name Belle below? Back to the transcript.
Well. I was right. Belle VanBlargan, 1884 to 1976--so not as old as I thought, which leads me to believe it is cement. And the inscription below the date--Love.
Another old stone. And another example of the evils of planting too close to the stones.
Not a tree this time, but a rose bush which seems to be embracing the stone. If you must plant roses, do not opt for the climbing or clinging variety.

17 May 2010

Memorial--Arthur L Scott

This is not technically an obituary. According to the text, good old Mrs Robertson wrote this paper to be read at the Grange meeting in tribute to Mr Scott. When not being constrained by the form of an obituary, Mrs Robertson really lets her creative juices flow.

From 23 December 1904 Hesperia Union

Paper read by Mrs Mary Robertson before Hesperia Grange:
"Brother Arthur L Scott for whom we are called to mourn, and whose memory we shall ever cherish, was born in 1854, was married to Ianthe Belle Hain, October 2 1880, and solved for himself the mystery of mysteries the 24th day June 1904.
"His Grange associations began when he was quite a young man. In his official life he has filled nearly every chair in the subordinate and Pomona Grange. he was everywhere an efficient officer, especially in the Lecturer's and Master's chair. He was a great thinker, a searcher after knowledge, and all his rich finds he laid at our feet. His intellectual feats nourished and strengthened us from time to time. We have known what it was to have him with us; we realize what it means to be without him. he stayed by and worked for us as long as he could. His wife's health failed and he was obliged to leave the farm and seek medical aid for her, and the last eight years of his life was the test of his manhood. Put yourself in his place; eight years of awful suffering for her, eight years of patient endurance for him, yet he never shirked a duty, no one ever heard him complain, he always did everything cheerfully. Thus the terrible physical pain of the wife was met by the patient tenderness and indomitable fortitude of the husband. he was often baffled in skill and distressed in mind, but he stood his ground heroically, sparing himself never, until he was seized by the fatal disease which finally ended in death after two years of patient suffering and he passed first into the beyond.
Our brother died at his post and the saddest part of it is, he died away from home and the dear ones who never deserted him, sacrificing for him their all. but he was tenderly cared for and all that was left of a dutiful son and tender husband, was placed in a beautiful casket, covered with flowers presented by the different orders to which he belonged, and brought home by a faithful friend.
He went out like the Quarry Slave at night, scourged to his dungeon; but sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approached his grave like one who wraps the drapery of his couch around him and lies down to pleasant dreams.
Of him as a brother in our order, a kind husband in the home, an exemplary man in the community, it may be truthfully said, he has fought a good fight. And in view of these noble traits of character and in order that his memory my be perpetuated, be it
Resolved, That a suitable page in the records of Hesperia Grange be set apart in which shall be written the record we have just read. And be it further
Resolved, That a copy of the above memorial be prepared by our Worthy Secretary and transmitted to the family of our deceased brother, and printed in our local paper.
Mary Robertson
Neil McCallum

Good old Mrs. Robertson. Of course this isn't a classic obituary. It is however reminiscent of earlier times when these kinds of memories were often recorded. Today with television and such, such little niceties often fall by the wayside.

16 May 2010

Oituary--Mrs Emily Jackson

This obituary starts in typical "Mrs Robertson" fashion with the town being shocked. But before going on to the obituary, I want to fill you in on the Big Meeting that is mentioned here.
If you google "Big Meeting" and Hesperia, you can find a copy of The School Journal, Vol. 65, dated July 5 1902. In it is an article beginning on page 40 (The School as a Culture Center) that refers to the Hesperia movement which was the source of the Big Meetings. The movement was started when some grange members met in autumn of 1892. It was conceived as an effort to bring together the community and encourage the desire to "read the better literature, hear the sweetest song, the eloquent lecture, see the beauty of painting". I would liken the Big Meetings to being like a Chautauqua meeting. It was a big tent meeting held in February for a long weekend. People came from miles around to enjoy the speakers, frequently braving rather harsh elements according to articles I have seen. From the information in the School Journal I surmise the Big Meeting started around 1893. This obituary is dated 1917, so the movement continued for many years. For another glimpse of the Big Meeting, check here.
Now on the the obituary.

From the 8 February 1917 Fremont Times-Indicator.

Hesperia was inexpressibly shocked last Saturday night just as the Big Meeting was out when the word cam flashing into town that Mrs Emily Jackson had just passed away. Mrs Jackson wa a much loved woman and it is with the keenest regret that we record this sad message. Although in failing health her wonderful spirits and ambition kept her always doing for somebody. Just before the holidays she went to Fremont to spend the winter with her daughter, Mrs. Wm. Bird, where she passed away. The body was brought over to Hesperia last Sunday where the funeral services will be held. Mrs Jackson leaves to mourn their loss, six daughters and three sons, Mrs duncan Becker, Mrs Rex maze, Mrs Wm. Bird, Laura, Edna, Mari and Leila Jackson, and John, Henry and Will Jackson, all of whom reside in Hesperia with the exception of Mrs Will Bird, who resides in Fremont, and Will who is somewhere in the West.

Elsewhere in the same issue of the paper, in other columns were these two notices.

While Miss Edna Jackson was in Hesperia attending the Big Meeting she received the sad news that her mother, Mrs. Jackson, had died very suddenly in the home of her daughter, Mrs Will Bird, in Fremont. There will be no school in Miss Jackson's room until next Monday.

So apparently Miss Edna was a teacher. The community gossip columns were usually organized by country school district, so which ever column this appeared in was probably when Miss Jackson taught. This next article was apparently from the Fremont proper gossip column.

Mrs Emily Jackson of Hesperia died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Wm. bird, in this city last Saturday at the age of 60 years. Mrs Jackson was spending the winter with Mr. and Mrs. Bird. The body was taken to Hesperia Sunday and the funeral services were held from her home Tuesday.

Due to the many area community news (gossip?) columns back then and on up past the 1950's it is not uncommon in these older editions of the paper to find many items listed in various sections. In this case it is perfectly logical to have several notices if Mrs Jackson was from Hesperia, died in Fremont and had a daughter who taught in a nearby country school.

13 May 2010

Obituary--Mrs. George VanWingerden (Bertha)

I could tell from the first sentence that this had to be a "Mrs Robertson" obituary. And sure enough, there at the end was her name. Never one to use one word when 10 could tell the same story, Mrs Robertson still manages to paint a picture of valued member of the community.

From the 14 December 1916 Fremont Times-Indicator. Take a deep breath and plunge in.

Not in years has this community been so shocked as it was last Wednesday when the news went flashing all along the line that Bertha, wife of the Rev. George VanWingerden was no more. We all knew that her life had been hanging by a slender thread, but everyone hoped and prayed that her life might be spared for the sake of the helpless ones who were dependent on such care as only a daughter, wife and mother, as she was, can give. But the grim Reaper with his relentless sickle cut her down in matured womanhood when her life like the noonday sun had reached its highest altitude. We all know that death is inevitable and everything must die, but it seems more harrowing and heartbreaking when a woman possessed of the many talents and housewifely qualities and all so vigorously employed for the good of her family and humanity should be thus cut down. But this is life, full of sorrow, full of disappointments. And we ask the question, Who (rest of the line is obscured on the microfilm.)
Bertha Tibbitts, second daughter of Shepherd and Elizabeth Tibbits was born March 28, 1876 on the farm where she always lived until death called her. We knew her as a happy dancing child, and one one time she was the writer's beloved pupil; we watched the young bud gracefully unfold from girlhood into sweet womanhood. We saw her as a happy bride, and we saw her again as a tender mother, crowned with the crown of motherhood, and through all these changes she still remained on the old farm.
On November 27, 1902 she was united in marriage to Rev. George VanWingerden and she was a wife whom Solomon would have delighted to honor, for she looked well to the ways of her household. Her price was above rubies and honor and strength were her clothing.
For the last two or three years she was scarcely know outside the home circle, having the care of her children and her blind mother, but these divine missions were performed with earnest devotion and unselfish efforts. She was a home builder as one seldom finds. The comfort of husband and children and mother always uppermost, and the gap in the family wall which her passing has left, can never be filled.
she was a sympathetic neighbor, a true friend in need, as those can testify who have been comforted by her timely aid.
The funeral services were held at the house at Two o'clock last Saturday, conducted. by Rev. M. Klerekoper, of the Presbyterian church, and Rev. Wylie of the M. E. church. Her casket was covered by the flowers she cultivated and loved, and she was surrounded by her nearest and dearest. She was borne tenderly from the home she had made bright by her presence, separated for the first time from the dear mother who nurtured her all her life; from the husband and children who called her blessed, and she went alone. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.
Bertha, farewell, may your beautiful life be an inspiration to all those who come after you; may your kind deeds ever shine forth; sweet be your last repose and may your crown be studded with the brightest stars.
Mrs. VanWingerden was laid to rest in the East cemetery. She leaves to mourn her untimely death her husband, seven children, Margaret, George, Alta, Verna, Doris, and the week old twins Willard and Bertha; an aged blind mother, two brothers, Willard and John, and a sister, Mrs Judson Cochrane, all of Hesperia.
Those attending the funeral from a dstance were Will VanWingerden (eldest son of Rev. VanWingerden) and wife and Mrs Anna Beatty, of Youngston, Ohio; Mrs Katie McQuaig, of South Boardman; Mrs Maggie VanMeter, of McBain, and Mrs Mammie Wing, of Big Prairie. The first three are sisters and the latter a sister-in-law of Mr VanWingerden. John VanWingerden, a brother, of Muskegon, Mrs Hart, of St. Joe, Ind., Charles Coburn and wife of Fremont, and Mr. and Mrs Will Anderson, of Brunswick.
Mrs Mary Robertson

Whew! I think the only thing missing from this obituary is some mention of the Black Camel of Death kneeling at the door. And did you catch the clue into Mrs Robertson's background? She apparently was a teacher at some time.
Yup, you could depend on it. If you were an acquaintance of Mrs Robertson, when you died, your obituary was a thing of beauty.

12 May 2010

Obituary--George W. Kenyon

Here is another of my "Mrs. Robertson" obituaries--flowery, fun and yet full of facts. (My, I am full of alliterations today. She must be rubbing off on me.)

From the 22 July 1915, Fremont Times-Indicator:

Mrs. Wm. Robertson, Correspondent
Death has again entered our village and taken from us a pioneer, a prominent business man, a veteran of the Civil War, and once again we bow in submission to the dictates of our arch enemy, death.
George W. Kenyon was born Nov. 21, 1840, in Chittend county, Vermont, and died at his home in Hesperia July 12, 1915. In the year 1862 he came to Hudson, Mich., and learned the wagon and carriage makers' trade. In the year 1863 he enlisted in the 4th Michigan Volunteers in the Army of the Cumberland and was discharged October 6, `865, at Detroit, Michigan. He returned to Hudson, Mich., resuming his trade of wagon making. He was married to Miss Jennie L. Stephenson, of Hudson, Mich., August 15, 1871. They moved to Green Bay, Wis., where he worked at his trade until 1876, when they moved to Lenawee cou7nty, Mich., engaging in farming, moving again that same year to Mason county where he engaged in farming until 1883. They then moved to Oceana county, locating on a large farm where they resided until 1907, when they moved to Hesperia, engaging in the milling business, which he conducted until the time of his death.
He was a kind and loving husband and father and leaves to mourn his loss a wife and one son Fred L, and an adopted daughter, Mrs. Frank Darlington, all of Hesperia. He was long a member of the Presbyterian church and died rich in the Christian faith.
The funeral services were held at the home Thursday at 3 p. m., Rev. M. Klerekoper officiating. The members of John A. Dix Post and a large circle of neighbors and friends were present to do honor to the memory of a much loved comrade and friend. The casket was covered with the flag of the country for which he fought and a profusion of beautiful flowers. He was followed to the West Cemetery by mourning friends, where he was laid to rest to await the coming of the One who will some day awake those who sleep and they shall see Him in all His Glory.

It still amazes me how much people traveled from state to state back then. Maybe I am just a home body. But people were much more mobile than I ever dreamed them to be. Mr. Kenyon moved from Vermont, to Michigan, to war, back to Michigan, to Wisconsin, back to Michigan, and several places in Michigan before settling in Hesperia. I live about 9 miles from where I grew up. Aside from college, (abut 90 minute drive), I never have lived more than 30 miles from home, in an age when travel is much easier.

11 May 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Lilly Cemetery

Lilley Cemetery is located in, strangely enough, Lilley Township, in the northern tier and is almost in the exact center of the township.
My first impression in looking at the pictures of this cemetery is that it is very flat. Unusual, because much of the northern area of our county is hilly but not here. The second impression I have, after looking through the pictures we have of this cemetery, is that it is a fairly new cemetery. I looked through our transcript and found only three graves that date back to the 1920's--the earliest 1924. There are about a half dozen with no death dates and about 15 to 20 from the 30's. Most of the graves are 1960 and newer.
As you can see above and below the cement borders for plots exist here. Most plots seem fairly empty, or at least unmarked.
These graves have not only the granite stone and also the bronze military plaque but also a couple crosses. I am not sure if the smaller one is wooden or not but the larger is obviously wood. Possibly created from fence posts or such that have been treated to help slow decay.
You know how I love a home-made stone. This stone for the Murrow family uses a regular stone that some family member may have pulled from the field. A place was smoothed and the name engraved. I had often thought that would make for great marker. It would be hard though to preserve the natural rustic appearance of the stone and still be able to smooth off enough to record all the pertinent data. Here just the one name is all they added.
This view gives a typical glimpse of the cemetery. While some areas are not as full, you can see the mostly new granite stones, as well as the military plaque next to the stone urn. While there are many of the stone baskets in this northern region, I have never seen one with a pedestal like this one.
Another of the homemade stones so near and dear to my heart. This one for Oradon Ramsey, who died in 1958 unfortunately already shows signs of cracking. You can see the moss growing along a couple cracks on the top.
This pair of stones I found unusual. At first glance, they appear to be two separate stones sharing a common base. But for both the Weathers and the Whites (in the background) the stone when I looked closer I could see that there was no break in the stone where the surname is engraved. So while it appears Sherman (1880 - 1938) and Mittie (1865-1943) Weathers are on separate stones, they were one in death, as in life.
And a side note on the stone for Ella (1889-1948) and James (1884-1985) White. According to our transcription they share the lot with Clara (1898-1974) I do not see a stone for her, even in the non-cropped version of the picture. I suspect that James may have remarried, but still kept his shared stone with Ella.
One last interesting item about Lilley Cemetery. While we have some cemeteries where we do not even have an up to date listing (or in some cases, even an out of date listing!) we not only have a transcript that has burials as recent as 2001, for Lilley, we even have a copy of the 1995 price list and the cemetery ordinance, from the same year.
Very interesting reading.

09 May 2010

Obituary--Christian Worthner

Another rather Mrs. Robertson obituary. And brief though it is, she still is shocked!

From the 1 April 1915, Fremont Times-Indicator:

Mrs. Wm. Robertson, correspondent
Hesperia was shocked last Thursday morning when the word was received down town that Christian Worthner was found dead in his bed. Mr Worthner had apparently been all right as he worked in Manley Seymour's shop the day before. The family came to Hesperia from Indiana three or four years ago and are people that are held in the highest esteem in church and other circles. Mr. Worthner was 53 years old and he leaves a wife, two girls and a son. The funeral was held in the Mission church and largely attended. Rev. David Stucky from DeKalb, Ind., officiated. Interment in West cemetery.

What I find shocking is that I find so much enjoyment in the writing style of a woman who was writing these obits 95 years ago!

08 May 2010

Obituary--Mrs S. B. Rolison (Martha Jane)

This obituary is signed by my favorite obituary writer, but after the first line, I knew it was her work without looking. The first in a series of "Mrs Robertson" or suspected Mrs Robertson obituaries.

From the 22 April 1915 Fremont Times-Indicator:

Mrs. S. B. Rolison

The reaper, Death, silently entered the home of Dr. Sidney B. Rolison last Saturday morning and took from him his life long companion, at the age of 63 years, 11 months and 17 days. This coming was not unexpected, for Mrs. Rolison had long been in failing health. Over two years ago she was stricken with paralysis and steadily declined from that time, but always showing marked fortitude and patience through it all.
Martha Jane DeVinney was born in West Sparta, Livingston county, New York, and was married to Dr. Sydney B Rolison January 19 1878. (Did you notice she spelled his name differently here?) In 1880 Dr. Rolison and wife came to Ann Arbor, where they remained until he graduated from the medical department. In 1888 they came to Hesperia, where they have since resided, the doctor building up a successful practice, and in this she was faithful even unto death, for her husband was her sole care and she always had his interests close at heart; when she was not keeping weary givils for him at night, on hand ready to answer every call, with all the comforts of a well kept home, and the sympathies of a loving wife waiting for him on his return from his long, hard drives, she was with him on his rides to lend her aid and sympathy to suffering humanity.
Mrs. Rolison was a fellow traveler on the highway of life who helped carry the burdens of the wayfarer. A conscientious Christian, she was ever ready to give hop and cheer, make life a little brighter, a little sweeter, a little more worth the living for those with whom she came in contact.
She leaves a husband and three sisters to Mourn, Mrs. Hattie Rolison of Hart;, Mrs George Schutt of Hesperia, and an elder sister, near Cadillac, who was too ill to attend the funeral. These stricken ones have the heartfelt sympathy of all, especially the one who must travel the rest of the way alone, but who has the solace of knowing he has done what he could.
Mrs. Rolison has entered into the eternal; and we feel as she passed through the gates she heard the welcome shout, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
The funeral service was held at the home Tuesday afternoon and 3 o'clock, Rev. M. Oldt, of the M. E. church officiating, assisted by Rev. Geo. Van Wingerden. the quartet of the M.E. church sang. The floral pieces were many and beautiful.
Those from out of town attending the funeral were Fred Duryea of Caddilac; Mr. and Mrs. Henry DeVinney, New Baltimore; M. A. (illegible), Hart; Ray Rolison and Mr. and Mrs Benj. Candee, White Cloud; Mr and Mrs Gage, Newaygo, and Mr. and Mrs. W. Leonard, Fremont.
Mrs. Mary Robertson.
Whew! What can one add to that?

06 May 2010

Obituary--Mrs Horace Jenne

One thing I love about old obituaries is the detail. They are so much more than a mere statement of facts. This one is a fine example.

From 29 February 1912, Fremont TimesIndicator:

Mrs. Horace Jenne

Mrs. Horace Jenne passed away at the home of her son, Hamilton, last Saturday morning after an illness of nearly two weeks. Mrs. Jenne has been in poor health for a long time and about two weeks ago was stricken with paralysis from which she never rallied.
Mrs. Jenne came to the wilds of Newaygo county with her husband, in 1855. She at her first supper by the light of a brush-wood fire; she held the distinction of owning the first kerosene lamp in Newaygo county. In her country's hour of need she saw her husband march away to the war of the rebellion.
They lived on their farm one mile east and one mile south of Hesperia, as long as they were able to work it. Mrs. Jenne was noted for her love of flowers, always having the choicest in her home and in her garden. Growing too feeble to work, they were obliged to sell their beautiful home and they moved to Fremont, where they lived for several years. they wanted to be nearer their son and old friends so they moved to Hesperia. After getting nicely settled there they both became so feeble that they could not live alone, so they went to their son Hamilton's, where they have since resided.
Mrs. Jenne was an active worker in the Presbyterian church and society and when the writer was secretary of their society, Mrs. Jenne gave one tenth of his pension every month, towards missions. They were both so interested in the work of missions.
In the passing of Mrs. Jenne another pioneer, wife and mother has left us and we regret her passing because it was such people as she that have made our country great. She has left one son, Hamilton, an aged husband and a host of sorrowing relatives and friends who deeply mourn their loss.
Monday at 2 p.m. funeral services were held in the Presbyterian church, Rev. Lawton officiating. Interment in East cemetery. Notwithstanding the blizzard that was raging the people turned out in large numbers to do honor to her memory.

(Now that's how I want to go, in a raging blizzard.)
And wouldn't you want to be remembered like that? Owner of the first kerosene lamp in Newaygo county.
No where in this particular obituary is there mention of the name of "the writer", but something in me just knows it is my favorite obit writer, Mrs William Robertson. She has such flair, and is not afraid to express a little drama.

I think I will go through some of the future obituaries I've pulled from our records and do a little series on them.
Just because I like her.

04 May 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Jewell Cemetery

To say that this weeks cemetery is off the beaten path is an understatement. In Dayton Township, western Newaygo county, I grew up abut 1 1/2 miles from it but never knew it was there. (Of course the one room school I also should have attended for about 4 or 5 years was also near there, and I never saw that either.)
Jewell Cemetery has at times gone by the name of Doud Cemetery (the name shared by the aforementioned school) Dayton Cemetery and Dayton Plains.
This is one cemetery that we have a fairly complete transcription of. A patron recently spent a lot of time to compile information on the cemetery. She took pictures and they are organized by section so it is a fairly easy operation to find a grave of someone buried there once you find them in the book. I skimmed the book and found many familiar names--a neighboring farmer here, great uncle there, former Sunday school teachers. Graves as recent as the 2009 are listed. I just wish she had made an alphabetical index.
The cemetery, according to this transcription was established in 1871. The above stone for Maria says she died in 1889. I wonder how large that tree was then.
While our new book on this cemetery is full of pictures, not every grave was pictured. I was not able to find the above stone of Clarence somebody in the book. The obviously hand made stone is still in good shape, with very few pebbles missing.
These two stones are so alike with the same picture of the weeping willow. The taller, for Mary Amanda who died at age 13 in 1861 is a bit more ornate, with the carved border around the stone. The shorter fatter one for John is a bit harder to read. Possible death date is 1850, and a different last name. Are they siblings? Or even relatives? If not, why so close in death?
Another buried stone, this time in grass and, what appears to be day lilies. However;
It does appear that this nearby stone is part of the same plot. The names of Edward, Lillian and Ada Peckham are all inscribed on this side of the stone. More questions-- is it a second wife, a child maybe, and what is on the other sides? And who is the small stone for?
I must get to this cemetery.
I picked this picture because of the contrast between the two stones. The larger one in the foreground for Bigelow is older looking with the crosshatching on the base, seen so often. The one in the background for Gronso was striking in its use of two different colors of stone. This area family has large stones in several cemeteries, the nearest to this being the East Hesperia cemetery. I have never seen one using the two color combination before. I like it.
This is definitely a cemetery I am going to have to visit soon. The varieties of shapes, colors, and ages of stones are a feast for this diva's eyes.

03 May 2010

Obituary --Mrs Nicholas DeHaas

This is a obituary that lead me to some investigation. I had read several obituaries referencing the same hospital, but had never heard of it. Ahhh, Google is a wonderful thing.

From the 21 December 1911 Fremont TimesIndicator:


Wife of Local Physician Passes Away At U.B.A. Hospital, Grand Rapids, December 13th.

The death of Mrs. Nicholas DeHaas occurred suddenly last Wednesday at the U.B. A. hospital in Grand Rapids. Mrs. DeHaas was taken to the hospital December 2 and underwent an abdominal operation from which no unfavorable symptoms resulted. However, on the 13th other complications caused a turn for the worst and she passed away about 9 o'clock Wednesday evening.
Mrs. DeHaas, whose maiden name was Marie Teressa Dorman, was born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1875. She resided in Canada until she was seven years of age at which time her parents came to Michigan. they moved to Beaver township, Newaygo county, were Mrs. DeHaas spent the early part of her life. She attended business college in Muskegon and Grand Rapids and held several positions as stenographer in the latter city.
Three years ago last November she married Dr. Nicholas DeHaas of this city and to this union one son, Moyer who is now 17 months old, was born.
Besides a husband and son she leaves a mother and step-father, Mr and Mrs Joseph Castonia, of Beaver.
The funeral services were held last Saturday morning at All Saints Catholic church, Rev. Father Drew saying the mass. The services at the grave were conducted by Rev. R. W. Paul, pastor of the Congregational church interment in Maple Grove cemetery.

She showed no unfavorable symptoms? Seems to me that death is a fairly major unfavorable symptom. I also had to do some digging on this obit to find out where the U. B. A Hospital was. It a forerunner of the current Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids MI. The initials stand for the Union Benevolent Association. The image was taken from from this website: http://www.jengod.com/postcards/slides/105.UBA Hospital.html

01 May 2010

Obituary--George Alfred Graham

This obituary is full of goodness and light, obviously not written by someone who did not like him. Many obituaries of this area are full of background information that you certainly do not see today.

From the 1 January 1913 Fremont TiimesIndicator:


George Alfred Graham, more familiarly known as Fred Graham, was born near Kingston, Canada, July 16, 1862, and departed this life at his late home in Fremont Friday, December 27, at 10:30 p.m.
Mr. Graham was of Scotch-Iris extraction, splendid stock, that has given a good account of itself in the settlement and development of this country in various localities, both north and south. When he was two years of age his parents with eight children came to this county, taking up government land near Bridgeton, endured all the hardships and privations incident to life in a new and uncleared country. His parents lived honorable and exemplary Christian lives and rounded out their full cycle of years and died full of faith and in the love and esteem of their friends. As might be expected they bequeathed the richest of heritages to their children, an example of piety and Christian conduct beside a certain well defined predisposition to a religious life.
Fred was converted and joined the Baptist church when 24 years old. but moving from the farm to Fremont and then to Muskegon, Grand Rapids and then to Fremont again, his church relations were allowed to lapse, and the only regret he seemed to have when visited by the writer, was that his christian life has not been of uniform earnestness and devotion, yet he was always a good man and much respected.
In his last ilness he renewed his covenant vows with God and experienced a happy assurance of His favor, and by his own request was taken into the membership of the M. E. church and died in the triumphs of the christian faith. He was married to Jessie Holmes, August 17, 1884. she has been a faithful wife and the comfort of her husband during the weeks of his suffering and with their son, Harry C. survives the husband and father. There are also living two sisters, Mrs Rice of New York; and Mrs Harry of Muskegon.
During his illness he was presented with a splendid purse from his fellow employees in the tannery. He also received a beautiful Christmas present from the same source.
The funeral took place from the M. E. church, Monday at 10 a. m., and the remains laid to rest in the Bridgeton cemetery, Rev. W. J. Cross, the writer, officiating.

Well that was out of left field. In the last paragraph his pastor is revealed to be the author of the obituary. That explains a lot about how it was written. I can just image his sermons.