31 March 2011


The Cemetery Diva's unfortunately will be unable to update our blog for a while a least.  Hopefully this will be just a temporary suspension and we will be back at a later time.
If you have followed our blog, please check back occasionally.  If we are able to continue, we hope you will join us again then.
Until then, please keep this blog in your memory.  Just like a treasured grave stone.

29 March 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

Will be unavailable today. 
Sorry to all our faithful readers. 

26 March 2011

Obituary--Fred Hoad

Just a week from the first announcement of an area soldier dying in battle, is this one.  Very different circumstances, as he was serving with the British forces, but sad nonetheless to come so close to the end of combat. 
From the 17 October 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Hoad Killed in Active Service in France Sept. 4
Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Hoad of this city received a letter from England October 12 conveying the sad news of the death of their son, Fred, who died September 4 in France while in the service of the British government.  Fred served with the British forces in Palestine and while there wrote the interesting letter which appeared in the TimesIndicator last April.  After serving in the Holy Lands he was sent to France for army service.  He leaves a wife and six children.  In his last letter to Mr. and Mrs. Hoad he wrote:
Dear Mother and Father:--I received your letter while I was holding the firing line but the thought of your prayers on my behalf and for the sake of my loved ones and being in the position I was in at the time when readint it, brought tears to my eyes. But thank God He has spared me once more and I am having a little rest at the back of the line, but I still put my trust in God as I thank Him every day not only for my safety but for my mates and I often try and show them their sins they are living in, to bring them out of darkness into light.  No goodbye and may God bless and help you all for many years to come.   Fred

While I realized that in World War II many Americans went to England to join the RAF, I didn't realize that we also contributed directly to the forces in World War I.  I don't know how common it was, but here at least was one instance.  And as I said last time, it is so sad that these deaths only start appearing one month before the Armistice.

24 March 2011

Obituary--Paul Ellis Steffe

As I have been entering information into our obituary index for 1918, I have been touched by the history of World War I.  I know that while the war started for Europe in 1914,  the US didn't declare war until 1917, and it was later that troops began heading over there.  These facts are born out in the obituaries we have.  I am currently entering obituaries for October 1918.  Prior to this I have had men in service dying of influenza.  Even a couple family members who died after visiting their brother in Camp Custer, near Battle Creek Michigan.  But today, I finally entered my first obituary from one who died in conflict.

From the 10 October 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Son of Rev. and Mrs. J. W. Steffe Was Killed in Action in France August 30
Corporal Paul Ellis Steffe of Co. F, 126 Inf., 32d Div. F. F., son of Rev. Jacob W. and Julia A. Steffe died in France, August 30, 1918, from the effects of wounds received in action.
The first of July, 1917, he enlisted in Jackson, Mich., and was a member of Co. L, 31st Michigan, until the National Guard was disbanded and merged into Co. F, 126 Inf.  From Jackson he went to Grayling, from there to Waco, Texas.  The middle of January they were sent to Camp Merritt, N. J., where they remained in barracks until February 16, at which time they sailed for France, arriving at a port of France march 4, 1918.  Their first training was received at Champlette, and from there they were sent to Alsace, and then moved farther north to Lorraine.
When he came out of action after the battle of Chateau Thierry, which was his third offensive, his captain had been killed in action and only 28 out of his company were left.  The 32d Division was known as the "Iron Jaw Division" and was used as shock troops.  Paul wor his sharp-shooter's medal which he had received for accuracy.
After the battle at Chauteau Thierry the 126th went back into the woods for a much needed and well deserved rest, but they soon received their orders to move on to St. Mihiel, his fourth offensive, where he was wounded so severely that he died August 30th.
Paul was of a very bright and cheerful disposition and never during the past year has there been a complaint of any kind in any of his letters home, nothing but hope and cheer and always the word that he wanted to stay by it until the end.
Paul's death is the first death in a family of ten, and while it is a crushing blow to them all, it is with pride they can know and feel that never was there a cleaner, better or braver life ever given for its country and humanity than his.  It can be truthfully said of him, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13--Newaygo Republican.

Even though this article was in the Fremont TimesIndicator, it was reprinted from the Newaygo paper as indicated above.  What I find especially touching is the fact that the first Newaygo county death from combat, appears just over a month from the end of the war.

22 March 2011

Tombstone Tuesday--The Local Touch

One thing I find fascinating about our area cemeteries is how the various cemeteries reflect the local landscape. 
I have mentioned before how Curtice cemetery has so many of the cement markers.  Is it just coincidence that there is a nearby ghost town (Marlborough)  that was home to a cement plant?  There are so many of these cement markers that range from ones with professional looking engravings...
to the ones like my Great-grandfather's stone here.  It clearly was hand crafted. 
In the less affluent parts of the county, it is not uncommon to find more temporary markers. 
These wooden ones may not last long but while there they are there, they stand in memory of the departed.
This may not be as temporary as the wooden crosses, but it probably does have a limited shelf-life compared to granite.  But in this part of the country where lumbering and wood cutting was so prevalent, it is not rare to see these large saw blades.  I have a couple in my garage.  So it is a case of using what was at hand as a marker, together with the talents of those left behind.
But the real local touch comes from the stone markers.  Some parts of the county, like much of Michigan are low, flat, and sandy or marshy.  Other areas, thanks to the receded glaciers of the Ice Age, are full of stones and gravel.  These rolling hills and rocky areas are where you find piles of fieldstones, as well as the cemeteries that have monuments like the ones here.
Clearly using what was at hand, this stone from Ashland Cemetery is studded with field stones.
This stone basket style urn is from just north of Newaygo in Lake county.  Hawkins Road Cemetery is surrounded by fields with piles of stones, houses with stone exteriors, and fences of piled stones.  Clearly a case of using what was available to make monuments to the departed.

19 March 2011

Obituary--Mrs. Wm. Robertson

Fremont Area District Library's Local History Room was shocked and reeling at the word that Mrs Robertson's obituary had been found.  (Sorry, I think she influenced me more than I realized.)
I suppose I knew this day would come.  I must admit that I was surprised to feel such a sense of loss when I turned the page in our 1916-1919 obituary book and came across this one.  I have come to love Mrs. Robertson's writings in the gossip columns of the paper, and especially the unforgettable obituaries written by her.  She has seemed like a friend, someone I would like to swap articles with, to have her critique me.
Even though she has been gone for over 90 years, she touched me.  I'm going to miss her writing.

From the 9 May 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Death Came Last Wednesday After Months of Illness From Cancer--Funeral Held Saturday.
Mrs. Wm. Robertson, one of Newaygo county's best known and most beloved women, passed away at her home, eight miles north and one mile west of this city, last Wednesday night, May 1, after an illness of several months.  She was 59 years, 5 months and 12 days old.
Mrs. Robertson entered Hackley hospital last fall and underwent an operation for cancer but relief was only temporary.  About four weeks ago she was again taken to the hospital but her condition continued to grow worse and she was brought home last week Tuesday.  She expired the following day.
Mrs. Robertson was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel McKay and was born in Cambletown, Scotland, Nov. 20, 1858.  At the age of 13 she came with her parents to the United States and located in Montague, Michigan, where they remained for about a year.  They then moved to their farm in Greenwood township, Oceana county, where they lived for many hears.  At the age of seventeen she began to teach school and taught for eleven years.
In November, 1886, she was united in marriage to Mr. Wm. Robertson and passed away on the farm to which she went as a bride.  To Mr. and Mrs. Robertson were born three children, Minnie, Donald McKay and Marjorie Isabel.  The former died in infancy.
Mrs Robertson was well known to the readers of the Times-Indicator through her letters which appeared almost weekly in this paper under a Hesperia heading.  For more than twenty years she covered the Hesperia district, and her column was sought with eagerness by many who found in her original and resourceful comment an interest and an inspiration.  Toward the last when too weak to write she dictated the letters which appeared in the paper.
Mrs. Robertson was a woman of boundless energy and unflagging activity.  She was a tireless worker in church, Grange and Literary club and in spite of her multifarious duties she never shirked a responsibility.  She loved her home and delighted in entertaining relative and friend at "Bunker Hill."  The welcome was always cordial and sincere.
Mrs. Robertson was proud of her Scotch ancestry and loved the land of her nativity.  She never tired of telling Scotch stories or singing Scotch songs.  Many of her choicest writings were in the language of the Scot.  She was a member of the Clan McCallum.
The funeral services were held Saturday afternoon at the home conducted by Rev. M. Klerekoper, pastor of the Hesperia Presbyterian church of which Mrs. Robertson was a member.  A large number of relatives, friends, and neighbors came to pay their last tribute of respect to the one whom they held in affectionate regard.  The floral offerings were many and beautiful.  The body was laid to rest in East cemetery, Hesperia.

I have definitely lost a friend.  But both Sandy and I were delighted to find so many of the things we suspected about her were true.  She was Scotch, Presbyterian, a former teacher, acquainted with the McCallum family and familiar with Hesperia as well as the Denver and Dayton township areas.  The only surprise was when I reviewed the obituaries we had labeled with her name.  Only one was dated after this date.  But that was one for Etta Seymour.  Although I hadn't seen any other Mrs Robertson obits around this time, this one (dated Feb 1925) sure seemed to have the Mrs. Robertson style. (My favorite line: Etta is not dead. Etta sleepeth,)  But whether we saw her name or were guessing on her style, all the other obituaries attributed to Mrs. Robertson were during the time she wrote. 
So long, Mrs. Robertson.  I am going to miss you.  But I do wish I knew your first name.

17 March 2011

Obituary--Orlando McNabb

I've mentioned how sometimes when I read an obituary as I am updating our database one just screams to be posted.  This is one of those.  He sounds like quite a character: soldier, turned doctor, turned lawyer, turned lumberman, turned gold miner in one lifetime.  
From the 24 January 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Former Local Attorney and Brother of Dr. J. W. McNabb Passed Away January 11
Milo A. white received word Friday from Dr. J. W. McNabb, who is spending the winter in Darling, Miss., that Orlando McNabb, twin brother of Dr. McNabb, died at the Soldiers Home near Los Angeles, California, on January 11, 1918.  Orlando McNabb was well know in this community about 30 years ago and was one of the leading members of the local bar.  He at one time served as village attorney and was celebrated for his efficient and direct methods of securing practical justice in some instances without resorting to the tedious delays of the courts. 
Mr. McNabb was born in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, Jan. 20, 1846.  His parents were natives of Ohio and were of Scotch Irish descent.  He attended school until 28 years of age, and February 7, 1864 enlisted in CO. A, 155 Ind Reg.  serving one year and was honorably discharged at Dover, Deleware, in September, 1865.  After his return from the army he commenced the study of medicine with Hector & Hill in Rochester, Ind.  He continued his studies four years, attending one course of lectures at the University of Michigan.
In May, 1869 he went to Hesperia Mich., and commenced the practice of his profession.  In 1873 he abandoned his profession and went to Chicago, where he gave his attention to the study of law until 1876, then went to Peru, Ind., and practiced his profession three years.  January 6, 1881 he settled in Fremont and practiced law here several years.
In the latter years and after leaving Fremont he first engaged in timber cruising work in Wisconsin and Northing Michigan, later going to California and Nevada where he prospected for mines andworked at gold mining when his health would permit.  He was possessed of a very brilliant mind and had he continued in the legal profession would undoubtedly have reach a high position on the bench.  His dislike of confinement and love for the out-of-doors caused him to follow his inclinations and abandon law.  His end came as a result of physical and mental breakdown following a sever accident nearly a year ago.

What a refreshing character he must have been!  And don't you want to know just what he did to be "celebrated for his efficient and direct methods of securing practical justice in some instances without resorting to the tedious delays of the courts."?  He is the type of person who is so delightful to find in your family tree, a bit of a rascal perhaps, who left a trail of information behind to follow.

15 March 2011

Tombstone Tuesday--Military Markers

While browsing our cemetery pictures to find a theme for today, I wondered from cemetery to cemetery (by pictures, not literally.)  Different markers and ideas, but nothing really grabbed me.  Then I remembered an idea I had been kicking around and decided it was time. 
Many of the pictures we have show the flag holders and military markers that vary from war to war.  Here just a few of what I've found.
This flag holder from the Everett-Big Prairie Cemetery or Community Cemetery as it is called on our index,  caught my eye because of its unusual shape.  I have not seen many of like this one from the Spanish American War.  The name of the veteran was not included in the picture, but the marker seems to be by a large old monument.  One of my Grandfather's cousins also fought in this war, although he died in World War I.  I haven't found his grave, but I presume he would have the World War I marker.

The above marker and the one below were from two different years on my Great Uncle Bert's grave.  The above one is in a common star shape and says veteran.  Below you can see one that says American Legion on it.
The stone on Uncle Bert's grave is the military marker that was typical of military stones, and it gives his rank, and the unit he was in: Co G  64 Infantry, World War I.  His wife was the Aunt Lyla that my dad made a stone for. They are found in Clark Cemetery, west of Fremont.

My Great Great Grandpa Armenus was my first discovery in doing my genealogy when I found him in the Michigan 1890 Veterans Census Index.  My thrill at connecting with him was dimmed by his flush stone that regularly needs to be dug out and made visible again.  Above and below are his military flagholder, showing him to be a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The holder is in great condition.  GGGramps is in Hawkins Road Cemetery, just north of Newaygo County, in Lake County. 
As is this stone and marker found in the East Hesperia cemetery.  The flag holder is also GAR.  I suspect that the worn marble slab may  be a military stone. 
Last of all are these: the flag holder and plaque marker for my Grampa's younger cousin, Paul Davis.  He grew up with my Great-Granddad who was his uncle/stepfather.  I was forever finding information on him because he enlisted under my GGranddad's surname, rather than his own, as a tribute for being raised by him.  While I neglected to turn the flag holder around to see the front it when taking the picture, you can see shape is different than the previously shown holders.  The bronze marker, the kind now used rather than marble, I find unique because it only has his first name.  Perhaps the confusion caused by his enlisting as a Gilbert, while his family name was Davis is the reason. I have found the news articles from when his body was brought back from France after the war so even though he died in France, he is interred here. 
Cousin Paul is also in the same cemetery as my GGGrandpa Armenus, just outside the county.  I often stop and hello to both, assuming I can find Armenus's grave.

12 March 2011

Obituary--Ellen Amelia (Mrs. Henry) Coy

This is another obituary of a woman whose obituary appeared in the fall of 1917.  Again born out of town, even out of state in this case, Mrs. Coy was very active during her long life.  The obituary of her husband was previously posted.  Now is her turn to shine.

From the 8 November 1917  Fremont TimesIndicator:


Eighty-three years ago in the little town of Medina, Ohio, Ellen Amelia Harrington was born, and this place was her home for nearly thirty years when she came as one of the pioneers to Michigan.  Three years later she was married to Henry Coy of Fremont, where together they built and occupied the first fram house which was their home for nineteen years.  They then removed to a farm one and one-half miles northwest of Hesperia where they lived until a few years ago when they both being aged, went to Grand Raids to live with their daughter, at whose home Mrs. Coy passed away very suddenly October 31, 1917 and was laid to rest by the side of husband in Fairplains cemetery, November 2.  Rev. Garfield of Berean Baptist church officiated, and Mrs. Mary E. Bodwell conducted the services for the W.C.T.U. which order came in a body.
Mrs. Coy was active in all good and helpful things, having had charge of one of the stations for relief work among the soldiers of the civil war.  She was one of the Crusade Mothers in the W.C.T. U work and helped organize the work among the women and children of Newaygo county.  In this work she retained an active interest until the last, having helped to raise funds and distributed literature during the fight last Fall to make Michigan dry.
She was a devoted wife and mother and with her sweet cheerful personality endeared herself to all who knew her.  Two daughters and the husband preceded her in death, and she leaves to mourn her loss besides countless friends, four daughters, Mrs. Carrie Clifford of Washington, Mrs. Sarah Howe, Ohio, Mrs. Ollie Waterman, 2 Travis St., Grand Rapids, Mrs. Emma Robbins, one son, Charles E. Coy, 125 Ottawa St. Muskegon, eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Mrs. Coy lived nearly 50 years longer than Mrs. Davis in the previous obituary.  And truly an active live, helping with relief for soldiers of the civil war, as well as active in the Temperance Union almost to the end.  And her tie to the area is clear, having lived for many years in Fremont and Hesperia.  
One thing puzzles me here.  (There is always something you know.)  His obituary said he married Ellen Tanner.  Her obituary said her maiden name was Harrington.  No mention of a previous marriage.  Did she have a first husband that died in the Civil War or something? I hate it when obits contradict each other, or leave out marriages altogether. 

11 March 2011

In memory of a dear friend

Linda has been after me for quite a while to write this posting but to be honest it is a hard one to write. On 22 November 2010 we lost a dear friend, mentor and co-conspirator. Terry Earl Wantz passed from this world into the next.

Terry authored many books on Newaygo Counties history and I am sure that anyone researching in this county has come across his work and name. Terry has been the "to go to person" for any questions on the county. His interests ranged from the Civil War, Post offices to lumbering and every thing in between. He always decorated the graves of the counties veterans for Memorial Day often at his own expense. Keeping the cemeteries as a memorial to the county veterans and the service they gave to our country.

I have many fond memories of Terry from his coming into the Local History Room to share a new discovery. Honking his horn early in the morning in my driveway yelling to get moving we were heading out to a cemetery usually Surarrer Cemetery ( I like to sleep in late on my days off). Then came the lessons in Witching (Divining). Terry would often get teased about it but he was very good at it. Terry would find grave sites, water or foundations of old buildings among other things. He had come from a long line of people we used this ability and was very proud of his skill. When he first tried teaching me I also learned he had a lot of patience, it took me a while since the minute the rods would move I'd drop them or hold on to tight for them to move. But I am now proud to say it works for me too, just not as well.

Terry was always busy between his history projects, volunteering at Bay Cliff Camp, collecting and going to yard sales and auctions. I miss him dearly. So often I think oh I need to ask Terry this or that, or say Terry will know before I realize I no longer can do that.

So many people come into our lives that we take for granted that they will always be there. Loosing Terry has made me aware how important it is to take that second to let people what a difference they make in your life. My life has been made better for knowing Terry and his passing has taught me to always tell your friends they make a difference in your life you may not have tomorrow to do it.

10 March 2011

Obituary--Cora A. ( Mrs. Harry D.) Davis

I thought this week I would post the obituaries of a couple women who died within a month of each other.  Both were born out of town  and lead active lives.  But very different lives for a couple of very different women. 
From the 11 October 1917 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Cora A. Post was born in Bangor, VanBuren county, Michigan, September 30, 1882.  At the age of 16 she was converted and baptized in the Christian church at Dowagiac, later transferring to the Methodist church at Traverse City.
She was married to Harry D. Davis at Elk Rapids May 27, 1901.  After a short period Mr Davis went into the employ of the Pere Marquette railroad, moving to Grand Rapids and residing there until 1910 when he was transferred to Chicago, where they have since resided and where her pleasing personality won her a host of friends.  She was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary, division 414, serving as its president for one year.
Mrs. Davis was always of a frail nature and her health slowly began to fail as one severe illness after another robbed her of her strength until valvular heart trouble developed and for the past three years she has been a very patient and cheerful sufferer, always thinking of others before herself.  All that science, medical help and loving care could do was done for her and she passed to her reward October 2, 1917.
She was a woman who endeared herself to all with whom she came in contact.  Her kind disposition was an example to all she met.  Mrs. Davis' faith in her saviour was a great comfort and her rest was well earned.
She leaves a husband, father, mother, one brother, many other relatives and a large circle of friends to mourn their loss.
The funeral was held at the home of her mother, Mrs. G. Vanderhill of Holland where she spent the last few months of her life.  The services were conducted by the Rev. J. W. Esveld, pastor of the Fremont Methodist Episcopal Church.  The floral gifts were beautiful, a fitting tribute to the beauty of her life.
Those who attended from out of the city were Mr. and Mrs. D. Stocking and Mrs. Bertha Davis of Fremont, Mr. and Mrs. J. Davis, Mrs. A. Cole, Mrs. A. Gannon, Mrs. C. Wilcox, Mrs. W. Combs and Miss Sara McWade of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Ross Heck and Mrs. C. Cushing of Dowagiac, Mr. and Mrs. J. Ebach and son Charles, and Mr. and Mrs. J. Ritchart of Grand Rapids, Mrs. C. Gibbs and daughter, Evelyn of Battle Creek, and Mrs. Lynch of Muskegon.

I was puzzled why this appeared in the Fremont newspaper.  She apparently never lived here, although a few people from Fremont attended the funeral.   Perhaps Mrs Bertha Davis was her husband's mother. This was apparently published in another newspaper first, as the Fremont people were considered from out of town.  Although not attributed to them, I suspect it either appeared in a Holland newspaper, or someone from there wrote up the obituary and sent it on to the Fremont TimesIndicator.
And as one of those things that just bug me--she was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary.  What was it an auxiliary of?  Just something to ponder.

08 March 2011

Tombstone Tuesday--The Trees (and Stumps) of Stone

I know much has been written about the gravestones shaped like trees.  I have in some previous blogs.  I have picture and talked about them in Maple Grove, Clark and others.  I can't pretend to offer a thorough lecture, but as always, just my personal comments and reflections.  With maybe a real fact thrown in here and there.
A great book we have in our collection is "Tree Stump Tombstones  A Field Guide to Rustic Funerary Art in Indiana" by Susanne S. Ridlen.  It is a wonderful source of information on these type of stones.  Lots of pictures and explanations of the different symbols that can be found on these unique grave markers.
This is one of my family stones, located in the Hawkins Road Cemetery, near Chase, Michigan.  And while not a tree stump, the "stacked log" shape makes it easy to find in the cemetery.  The back is the shape of the stack of logs, while the front has this scroll like feature that hangs down as though held by the top log.  A bit of engraving of a palm frond is across the top, with the family name on the bottom.  But what drives me crazy is the fact that the scroll portion is left blank.  Ok, it is a family marker; James, Sarah and others have small markers nearby.  See the tip of one peeping over the pink flowers?  But think of the info that they could have put on the blank space.  Nothing!  (Drat.  Darn ancestors anyway!)
A similar stone is this one from Clark Cemetery.  Part of the pink granite found there, it is very similar in shape to my Samis stone, but this stone for the Skeels family is also different.  The name is still just a family name, but it appears on the scroll, that is again tucked in and hanging from the logs.  And it has the same palm frond design.
This is another unique style and also from Clark cemetery.  It has the scroll feature, with the family name of Hermance at the top (and blank scroll again!) but this time hanging from one log held upright by a couple forked logs.  I believe this is the only one I've seen shaped like this.  Very striking.
This pair of stones is from Newaygo Cemetery.  The family name is on the branch that crosses both stones, but unfortunately is hard to read in the picture, even in a larger view.  The lichen and coloring almost make the stumps look like the bark has peeled off the center portions.  Vines and flowers climb the trunks and the base looks like roots.  Did you notice too, the two small logs on either side of the large double trunks?  There appears to be a name written on at least the closest one, but again, the lichens and weathering make it difficult to read.  That can be a drawback with these otherwise beautiful stones.

This is one of the groupings of tree stump stones in Fremont's Maple Grove Cemetery.  One that we of course do not have pictures of has the stumps and even benches fashioned as though from branches. This tall family stone has several flat rectangular stones inside the bordered plot, but notice too that there is a small log monument also within the plot.   And again, although no close up here, the main stump is very ornate with flowers, ferns and even a stone potted lily at the base.
This last stone is from East Hesperia cemetery.  It shows more of the possibilities open with these types of monuments.  There are many cut branches from the main stump.  Fronds adorn the bottom but of course the best part is the banner.  Appearing to hang from a rope draped across one of the cut branches it is clearly visible.  This stone is for Hannah S. Bush.  Born Dec 26 1868 and died Oct 7, 1893, not yet 25 years old.  And this banner like section keeps on giving--it also states she was the  "gone but not forgotten Wife of  W. R. Bush".
Some ancestors are not as disappointing as others.  (Did you hear that great granny?)

05 March 2011

Obituary--John G. Frens

My last World War One obituary of the week.  This is so sad because, even though he was "the first local boy to pay supreme sacrifice", nonetheless, his death came after the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Forgive me for being rather long, but I wanted to include the entire article, including letters.

From the 5 December 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator.....

First Local Boy to Pay Supreme Sacrifice in Active Service "Over There"
John E. Frens who lives two miles west of Fremont received a telegram from the War Department Friday conveying the sad news of the death of his son, John G, Frens, who died in France November 12 of wounds received in action October 15.  He was 22 years, 9 months and 25 days old. Mr. Frens is the first freomong boy to have given his life as a direct result of the contact with the enemy.
That Mr. Frens did not believe his wounds would prove fatal is evident from a letter dictated by him to a Red Cross nurse.  The letter follows:
American Red Cross
October 15, 1918
Dear Folks:  Just a line to let you know that I have been wounded and am getting along fine.  There is nothing to worry about and I will write very soon myself. I will be sent to a base hospital in a few days and will write you as soon as I can from there.
Best love to all, Your loving son, John.
Written by Rose Peabody,
Red Cross, Mobile Hospital No. 2
A. E. F
John G. Frens was born on the farm where his father still lives west of the city and grew to manhood in this community.  In August of 1917 he went to Platte, So. Dakota for his health and remained there about three months.  After spending a few weeks at home, he went west again in January of this year and remained there until called into the service May 29 when he went to Camp Custer.  He remained at Custer until July when he sailed for France with the 85th Division.
Besides his father and step-mother he is survived by three sisters, Mrs Gerben Bekkering of Denver, Col., Mrs Arie DeKuiper of Grand Rapids and Mrs. Herman D. Kolk of Fremont and one brother, Richard Frens, of Grand Rapids.  His step-sister and brothers are Miss Hattie Nieboer of Muskegon, Ed Nieboer with the colors in France, John Nieboer of Fremont and Gerrit Nieboer of Platte, So. Dakota. 
Mr. Frens was one of the fine young men of this community.  He was always especially solicitous for the the welfare of hsi parents and his one ambition was to alleviate their burdens.
Following is the last letter he wrote his parents before being wounded.
Somewhere in France
October 2, 1918
My Dear Folks at Home:
I suppose you folks I have forgotten you altogether but that is not the case at all.  I could have written a week ago but we could not get the mail out, so you don't want to worry if you don't hear from me for quite a while, because there is always some little reason.
I sure am feeling fine and I am in the best of health and hope you folks are all the same.
Well we have seen some of the real stuff by this time.  We were at the front for about eighteen days.  got along fine.  Do you folks ever hear from Ed?  I suppose he is over here some place, but where I don't know.  But no doubt he is getting along fine also.  Is he still in the Artillery?  I don't know if I wrote it before, but we were transferred into the 42nd Division quite a while ago.  Ed may have been transferred also.  It would not surprise me any if he was.
I have not had any mail yet but expect some most any day, as some of the boys that came over with me have received some already. 
I suppose by the time you get this letter the fall work will be about done.  I do hope you are getting along well with it.  Is Dick going to school again"  Well, father, you have got it pretty hard this year, but I hope and pray that things will be different next year.  From the way things look now, I think they will too.
I have written about all I can think of this time.  Will try and not wait so long with writing next time.
Your loving son and brother

Gone but not forgotten.

03 March 2011

Obituary--C. C. Upton

One of those listed on the list I posted yesterday was C. C. Upton.  At the very bottom, he is listed as having been gassed. (Actually he was gassed, then later wounded, but died of disease.)  His death is one of those that so surprised me.  Today, when we can nearly instantly communicated with our loved ones in harms way in one battleground or another, it seems strange that so many families were not notified of deaths until much later, in this case nearly a month.  And also heartbreaking to me is that so many deaths took place after the Armistice. 
Again as a tribute to all who fought in World War I, and especially to those who died here is another obituary of a local soldier.
From the 18 March 1919 Fremont TimesIndicator:

C. C. Upton, Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Upton, Gassed and Wounded, Dies in France

C. C. Upton, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Upton of this city, has made the supreme sacrifice at the altar of universal democracy.  A message to Mr. and Mrs. Upton received from Washington last week conveyed the sad news of the death of their son in France February 17. Death was the result of pleural pneumonia.
C. C. enlisted on June 28 1917, and was a member of the 78th Co., 6th Regiment of the Marines, and went overseas the latter part of January, 1918.  The first battle in which he was actively engaged was on the Marne.  He was gassed June 14 in the battle of Chateau Thierry and was confined to the hospital until October.  For two weeks he was totally blind and was in total darkness for six weeks which restored his sight.
On October 31 he was shot through the left thigh and was again confined to the hospital but recovered sufficiently to start for the place of embarkation.  he was taken ill with pneumonia and from this last siege he did not recover.  During all the months he was confined to the hospital no letters from home reached him.
Mr. Upton was a graduate of the Fremont high school in the class of 1912.  during his high school course he was prominent in athletics, being one of the best basketball players the local school has produced.  He also excelled in the out-door athletic activities of the school.  He was a member of the Church of Christ.
Mr. Upton was in the employ of the Cadillac Motor Co. in Detroit at the time of his enlistment.
He passed away in his 26th year leaving a father and mother, one brother and four sisters.  The sympathy of the entire community goes out to the bereaved family.

 These are the deaths that are so tragic, after the war ended, and recovered enough from his wounds to head for home, he then dies of sickness.  Thank goodness for modern medicine.

02 March 2011


This past week, the only surviving veteran of World War I past away, leaving only one from Great Britain and one from Australia, or so I've read.   That got me thinking about the many who lost their lives during this fight.  I had a first cousin 2x removed who died then.  I have a few obituaries I have found in the 1918 obit book of men who died then, often of disease rather than fighting.  I found this column that lists names of those killed or wounded in that war.
From the 30 January 1919 Fremont Times Indicator. 

Following is a List of Boys Killed or Wounded in Democracy's Struggle

Casualty list of Newaygo county as compiled by Dr. L. S. Weaver:
Ole Webster, big Prairie
Don M. Dickinson, Fremont
Frank Clark, Fremont
Paul Steffe, Newaygo
Carl Loxen, Grant
Clyde Crabtree, Big Prairie
Herman Brandt, White Cloud

Leo McGrath, Bitely
Frank Raymond, Fremont
Jack Stewart, Woodville
Herbert Lenard, White Cloud
W. H. Dubois, Newaygo
Cornelius Wolters, Fremont
Selah Reber, Fremont
Chas. Risher, Hesperia
Wm. Sherman, Newaygo
Glen anthony, Newaygo
E. O. Cooper, Newaygo
Will H. Horton, Fremont
D. J. Carlington, Fremont
A. C. Harper, White Cloud
Andrew O. Goebel, White cloud
Clyde D. Chism, Fremont
John D. Brookhuis, Fremont
Milo Ostrom, Grant
Howard Brown, Fremont
Howard Brown, Fremont
Geo. K. Bowen, Hesperia
Alto Sherman, Hesperia
David Hopkins, Fremont

Died of Wounds
John G. Frens, Fremont; France

Died of Disease
Carl Reynolds, Hesperia; Great Lakes Training Station
W. H. Fowler, Hesperia; Camp Custer
Glen Taylor, Fremont; Camp Custer
Bert Lambers, Fremont; Ann Arbor
H. Teisenga, Fremont; Camp Custer
Auren Brown, Grant; France
Wm. Hutchinson, France
Chas. Alvord, Croton, Camp Custer
Dan covey, Paris, France
A. D. Jordan, Paris, France
Howard Schoolmaster, Fremont; Great Lakes Training Station.

C. C. Upton, Fremont

01 March 2011

Tombstone Tuesday--Stones That Aren't

Aren't really stones that is.
We have many monuments and "tombstones" in the Newaygo county cemeteries that are not really stones.  Many have been made by those left behind in remembrance of one who died.  And there is great variety in those so called stones.
 These examples are from various cemeteries in Newaygo county.  The one above is a fairly recent one, made from a buzz saw blade and painted, then mounted in a metal frame.  While not stone, it very lovely memorial.
This one was know as the Shell grave stone in Newaygo cemetery.  Constructed of cement, it was once studded with the shells from the deceased's collection of sea shells.  Sadly now most of them of fallen or been picked off, but still a great monument.
 The marker for Henry L is clearly a hand-made one.  Just a simple block of cement with his name and initial carved into it.  And clearly made to last, even if a bit skimpy on the information.
 Another "non-stone" stone is this hand made wooden cross.  Adorned with a wreath and what appears to a real book, this wood cross, if made of treated wood, could last for years, even if the extras fade away.
 Mary A Maus, 1935-1935 is one of the many cement stones in Curtice cemetery.  One of my great grandfathers also has one of these, made of cement and painted silver.  There are many in this cemetery of the same shape, and others more ornate, that are made of cement.  I still think that someone had a business making them, as marl and sand were so plentiful around that area.
Then of course is the neighborhood stone for Henry Wilde.  In a small family cemetery, with similar sized and shaped markers, in the middle of a hay field, the Sitka-Wilde cemetery is just down the road from my home.  The stones are all handmade, in small grove of  young trees.  As the farm owner respects this small private cemetery, carefully farming around it, this group of  non-stone stones should be around for a long time.
It is interesting to see that so many people took the time to be sure the graves of their loved ones were marked, some with elaborate stones like the painted saw blade and the shell monument, and others with simple cement markers, carved with the name of the loved one. 
May they all rest in peace beneath their stones that aren't stone.