27 December 2012

Obituary--Minnie Black

The subject of today's obituary was a long time local resident, a pioneer as the obituary states.  Born in Ohio, she nevertheless lived in Michigan from her teens and saw much change in the area.

From an October 1939 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Came to County in 1880s and Was a Garfield Township Pioneer.

Mrs. Minnie Black, a resident of Garfield township and Newaygo for more than half a century, passed away at her home on East street Monday afternoon.  She had been in failing health for some time.
Mrs. Black who, in spite of her infirmities, always ahad a smile and cherry word of greeting for her many friends, left a written record of her life and less than a week before her passing had completed arrangements for her funeral service.  The following account is therefore based on her own written record.
Minnie Etta Lloyd was born January 19, 1866 in McKay, Ashand county, Ohio, and came with her parents to Michigan in 1882 traveling in a covered wagon.  Two years later, in 1884, she was united in marriage to Myron Sylvester Black at Newaygo.  The couple purchased wild land from the Indians, in what is still know as "Old Woman's Bend," on the Muskegon river several miles below Newaygo.  They cleared their farm and made of it a comfortable home until 1927 when infirmities forced Mr. Black to give up farming.  They then purchased a home in Newaygo, where Mr. Black had resided since the death of her husband Dec. 27, 1927.
surviving are two sisters, Mrs. Phoebe Bullis, residing in Casnovia township, and Mrs. Laura VanSickle  in Rockland, Idaho, and three nephews, I. L. Bullis of Petoskey, Ben Bullis of Newaygo and Archie Bullis of Casnovia township.
Funeral services were conducted at 2:l30 yesterday afternoon from the Congregational church by Rev. Frederick Pinch.  Burial was in Newaygo cemetery.

One of the things that has happened to me while reading those old obituaries is that many of my preconceived ideas get broken.  Covered wagons were supposed to be things of the Old West, that people took when crossing the plains and the mountains.  Not while coming to Michigan!  I knew we still had many Native Americans in the area though.  And I like the fact that even today, people know about "Old Woman's Bend" on the Muskegon River.

26 December 2012

Belated Tombstone Tuesday

Due to the Christmas and New Year's Day holidays, there will be no Tombstone Tuesday postings this week or next. 
But while you wait for their return, let this picture of James Merrill's stone, nestled in the snow tide you over.
If only we had snow like that now.

20 December 2012

Obituary--Henry John Borgman

When I saw this obituary while leafing through some to pick for this blog.  It caught my attention because I believe he was my sister-in-law's great or great-great-grandfather (Hi Patti!).  At the least he is an ancestor of hers.  So for your information as well as her's, here is his storyl
From the 9 January 1936 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Aged Pioneer Claimed by Death at Home of Daughter

Henry John Borgman, one of the pioneer residents of this community, passed away Sunday at the home of his daughter, Mrs. John Stroven, corner of Merchant Ave and Maple St., with whome he had made his home for the past nine years.  He was 82 years of age.
Mr. Borgman was born July 3, 1853, in Bentheim, Germany, just across the border from the Netherlands, He came to America in 1880 and worked in Drenthe, Grand Rapids and Spring Lake before coming to Fremont in 1887.  Shortly after his arrival he bought the farm west of town where his son Albert Borgman now lives.  At the time he purchased this land he was employed at the Gibson saw mill.
In 1889 he was united in marriage to Gertie Brower who passed away on Oct. 18, 1910.
He was one of the oldest members of the First Christian Reformed church and was one of a group of the aged men of that church whose picture appeared in the state press a few years ago.  He was the youngest of six children and the last survivor.
He is survived by the following children: John , George, Herman and Albert Borgman, Mrs. John Stroven, Mrs. Hattie Karnemaat, and Mrs. Gerrit VanEmst, and a number of grand children.  The late Mrs. Steven Timmer was a sister of the deceased.
The funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon from the First Christian Reformed church and were in charge of the pastor, Rev. L. J. Lamberts.  Interment took place in Maple Grove  cemetery.

As I went through this obituary more carefully I was surprised to discover several things.  First, he was not from the Netherlands.  Most area people are proud of their Dutch heritage.  But, also like many of them, Mr Borgman did not come from the Netherlands, but across the border.  I have since discovered that many of our so-called Dutch, are really from Bentheim, Germany, "just across the border." Not Dutch at all but from Deutschland.
And the other item that really surprised me was that my sister-in-law's great (or great-great-) grandfather died at nearly the same time as my own great-great-grandfather, Armenus, my civil war ancestor.  GGGranddad Armenus died on the same day. 9 January 1936, that the paper that carried Henry Borgman's obituary.  Small world.

18 December 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--The Buildings

 One feature of many of our cemeteries in this area of west Michigan is the caretakers building or shed.  Not only are they used for storage of mowers and other maintenance equipment, but in winter they may become the temporary resting place of the deceased, until the ground thaws.
 Maple Grove Cemetery, here in Fremont, has two buildings.  The one above is the original, and below, behind the wall on the left of the drive is a more recent building.  I am not sure if the original is still used or if both may be used.  I do know that at least previously there were no burials from December 1st of each year until the ground thaws in the following spring.
 However if there is a mild winter, as is the case so far here, burials may be allowed, until the ground does freeze.
Below is the building from Prospect Hill Cemetery, in White Cloud.  It is very familiar to the original Maple Grove building, being of stout bricks, and close to the same size.
 But other styles of buildings are also around.  The building below is from the West Hesperia cemetery.  It is a simple building , but I like the extra little cupola on the top.
 This small one is the building at the old Clark cemetery.  This is a much older, private cemetery, rather than being run by the city or township.  The building is very small.  I don't know if the bodies rest here, or at the funeral homes.
Now I cannot say for certain that these buildings are used still for a temporary resting place, but at least one of the area funeral homes doesn't have much storage room, so I would not be surprised to find them still used in this manner.
I do know that the families are notified in the spring, before the burials.  Both in the case of my mother-in-law, who died in January, and my father, who died in December were delayed burials and in each case, the funeral home notified us before the internment.

14 December 2012

Obituary--Mrs. Alice Lock


From the 1 May 1930 Fremont Times Indicator:


Mrs. Alice Lock, a pioneer resident of this county, passed away Monday night at the home of her son, John Hendrie, at the age of 70 years.  Mrs Lock was the daughter of Mr and mrs. Simon Barnhard and was born in Dayton township July 13, 1859, spending her girlhood there, later moving to Lincoln township.
On January 22, 1874 she was united in marriage to John Hendrie and to this union eight children were born, two of whom preceded her in death.  Mr. Hendrie died June 9, 1900, and on December 23, 1908, she was married to Norman Lock who passed away in 1923.  She lived in Lincoln township for many years.
She is survived by six children, Claud, John and Mayer Hendrie, Mrs. Maud DeWitte, Mrs. Will Cornett and Mrs. Bert Peasly, and four brothers Frank and George Barnhard of Muskegon, charles Barnhard of Lincoln township and Solomon Barnhard of Fremont.  She is also survived by 17 grandchildren.
The funeral services will be held Friday afternoon at 1:30 from the home and 2:00 from the Church of Christ and will be in charge of Rev. F. J. Schlueter of the Methodist church assisted by Rev. C. E. Pickett of the Christian church.

11 December 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--A Bit of a Surprise

While looking through the pictures for a stone to post about today, I came across this one.
At first glance it looks like a nicely engraved stone for a married couple.  But look again.

Margaret, the supposed wife was only three years old at death! 
George was 47 years old when Margaret was born.  I can only guess that Margaret was his daughter.  But there is no way of knowing this. 
Are the years misprints?  I know that mistakes on stones are all too common.  My grandfather's name is misspelled on his stone. 
George lived to be eighty.  Did his wife survive him?  Where is she?  I have way too many questions with this stone.  I think if we had our microfilm of the newspapers already, I would be looking for an obituary for George, to see if some of the details can be worked out.

07 December 2012

Obituary--Linden Little

Today's obituary is from another area paper, and is about an accident by one of the men working on the river.  A sad story, as he was new to the job.  This accident was after most of the area logging was done.  Instead of a log jam, it was from dealing with an ice jam.  But I would imagine this was a type of death that was all to common in the logging days.
From the 27 February 1930 White Cloud Eagle:

Attempting to Break Up Ice Jam in An Effort to Save New Bridge
Linden Little, 21, was instantly killed Saturday afternoon, when an explosion of dynamite blew up a block of ice on which he was standing in the Muskegon river near the Ox Bow Dam.
Little was a resident of Morley and had been employed by the construction crew at the dam only two days.   The crew was throwing dynamite into the stream in an effort to break up the jam and save the bridge near the dam site.  One stick landed near Little and exploded on the block of ice on which he was standing. 
His father, James Little, has been a member of the construction crew some time.  His mother is employed in a restaurant there.

How sad, dying after only 2 days of work.  And with his father also working in the area. 
 I suppose this is more of a news article and notice of death, rather than an obituary.  His fathers name is given, but no birth date.  And readers of the paper would need to calculate what the date of death was, as the paper just says Saturday afternoon.  I suppose during the lumbering era in this region that deaths on the river were common.  But this is well after the lumbering was done.  And how much worse that is was caused by what his fellow workers were doing on the job.

04 December 2012

Tombestone Tuesday--Doud cemetery's Gronso

I was struck by this stone for the Gronso family, located in Newaygo county's Dayton township in the cemetery known as both Doud and Jewell as well as sometimes Dayton Center cemetery.
The thing I found so unusual about this was not the blank faces that were clearly meant to be written on.  That unfortunately is all to common.  My family especially was famous for that.  But the outstanding feature to me was the use of the two different types of stone.   The pink is clearly granite.  The white may be granite, or limestone.  But at least in this area, the use of two different color stones is very unusual.
It does appear to be a family stone, and possibly the other smaller stones are family members.  I like the G engraved in the cap stone of the monument.
I like the way this two-tone stone looks.  I wish there were more around this area.

29 November 2012

Obituaries--Alyce and Pauline Warmelink

I found this article when going through the obituary files and microfilm.  Such a tragic accident.  It is notable the local slant of this article.  Both the Warmelink women were from Fremont.  The other victim was from Newaygo, and while he also died in the crash, not much information is given about him.  Descriptions are graphic.  Read on with care.

From the 7 November 1935 Fremont TimesIndicator:
Archie McKinley, Newaygo, With Party Returning From Croton Dance
Two Fremont young ladies and a Newaygo man were instantly killed early Sunday morning in the worst automobile tragedy that has occurred in Newaygo county this year.  The victims of the accident were Alyce Warmelink, 20, and Pauline Warmelink, 18, daughters of Mrs John Warmelink, and Archie McKinley, 47, of Newaygo.  William Anderson 23, of Newaygo, who was the driver was badly injured but will live.  Peter Bailey, 22, also of Newaygo was the fifth occupant, but was only slightly injured.
The members of the party had been attending a dance at the Oxbow, near Croton, and were returning home.  It is thought that the accident occurred about 4 o'clock.  The party were driving west on M-82 west of the Oak Grove school and had reached the bend in the road at Pettit lake when they failed to make the curve.  It was evident that the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and it crashed into the forest on the side of the road and struck three trees.
It was two or three hours after the tragedy occurred that the demolished car with its occupants was discovered.  The discovery was made by Grand Rapids hunters who hurried to Newaygo and notified Allen Peterson at the Newaygo garage.  When he arrived at the scene of the accident Bailey was being walked around by one of the hunters but he had not sufficiently regained consciensness to give any of the details of the accident. 
The bodies of the young ladies and McKinley were badly mangled and all three had skull fractures and internal injuries as well as many broken bones.  The two injured were taken to their home and Coroner Willis Geerlings was summoned.  McKinley was not a member of the party but was acquainted with the young men and was given a ride back to Newaygo from the Croton dance.
The positions in the car occupied by the two survivors saved them from death.  These men occupied the left side of the front and rear seats while the right side of the vehicle made the terrific impact with the trees.  Alyce was in the front seat and McKinley occupied the right side of the rear seat.  Between him and Bailey was Pauline.
The young ladies were well known here and the Warmelink family have made their home here for many years.  Alyce graduated from the Fremont high school in 1934 and was attending business college in Grand Rapids.  Pauline graduated from the local high school last June and was employed at The Shack, local restaurant.
Besides their mother girls are survived by two sisters, Mrs Bertha Hollender and Mrs. Jessie Ravey of Sheboygan, Wisc., and two brothers Fred of Harrisburg, Ill., and Leonard at home.
The funeral services for the young ladies were held Tuesday afternoon from the Second Christian Reformed church and were in charge of the Rev. C. Holtrop, the pastor. Interment took place in Maple Grove cemetery.

Such a sad story.  As is typical, they don't spare the reader.  Rather they indulge them with details.  You would never see a local paper giving all that information today.   
While accidents still happen today, as do late parties, but at least now with seat-belts and airbags, many of these serious accidents are usually not fatal to so many.  Of course, there is dangers not thought of then. (Hello, texting?)  But with the wide use of cell phones, help can arrive quicker.  Even if the accident isn't found till later, help can be summoned from the site. 
There are some advantages to modern technology.

27 November 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--P Johnson

Today's tombstone is one that I have not visited.  I'v just seen this picture from Woodville Cemetery Newaygo county, Michigan. 
P. Johnson was born 4 July 1846, and died on 16 September 1895.  Nothing else is known about his or her life.  But the grave says a lot.
A wonderfully shaped stone, with a rose and leaves engraved in the top.  The additional engraving around the point and side give it a little extra oomph.  Clearly this was no cheap slab stuck in the ground.
P. Johnson  died before the age of 50 years.  And apparently there is still family or friends still around.  As this picture was taken many years later, probably close to a century.  But it still has some fairly fresh silk flowers placed on the grave.
Rest in Peace Mr. or Mrs. Johnson.   You are remembered.

23 November 2012

Obituary--Mrs. Mary Shimmons

I love this obituary, if you can call it that.  Virtually no vital statistics; it doesn't even give the name of her husband!  I found that very surprising.  Usually we have his name and nothing else.  But we do have the flowery remembrances, even if she doesn't rate a headline on her death.

From the 14 May 1914 Fremont TimesIndicator:

The death of Mrs. Mary Shimmons occurred last Friday at her home in this place, where she died at noon of dropsy.  Her life answers to the standard of goodness.  She was rich in traits of christian character, well poised, possessing the graces of the spirit and free from those angles that sometimes mar the symmetry of life.  By nature she was modest, quiet and unassuming, yet, this had in it no weakness.  She had opinions and expressed them, they were free from dognatism, and her gratitude was in no sense obtuseness.  The funeral occurred in the Baptist church Monday where a large number of friends met to do honor.  Besides her husband she leaves one foster daughter, Mrs. Geo. Engle, and some distance relatives.  Interment at Newaygo.  Rev. Graham of Newaygo officiating.

In addition to the flowery language, and lack of information, it is unclear just where she lived.  As has happened before, it just says of this city.  Since it is possible, since this appears to be part of a larger column, possibly in the gossip section, the writer could have been in several of the local small towns.  Especially since it specifies the interment and clergy were from Newaygo.  Once we get out microfilm up and running in the history center in a month or so, at least interested parties will be able to look at the context these were written in.

20 November 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Walter and Mary Knickerbocker

Today's stone is for Walter Knickerbocker (2 Feb 1822 to 24 Nov 1902) and his wife Mary Knickerbocker (20 Feb 1835 to 21 Nov 1902), located in the West Hesperia cemetery. 
I was intrigued by this stone, first because they died only 3 days apart, and then because the names were squished so far to the right. 
Upon closer examination, the names were squished because there is a faint outline remaining of an engraving of a plant, possibly of a lily or palm frond.  There may even be more written or a picture carved along the top curved section of the stone.   It is very faint and the enlarged picture still does not make it clear if there is carving there or just the shading of the marble.
What is clearer, although shows very faintly in the picture here is the additional carving below Mary's vital statistics.  The stone reads "Gone but not forgotten".  Perhaps by posting this here, some family member may discover them so they will not be forgotten. 
I must mention the military flag holder show in front of the stone as well.  It is not like the ones I have seen commonly in Newaygo County.  The star has a circle with a small star on each point.  The top arm and the two bottom arms have the initials F C L, one letter in each arm.  Inside the main circle are the words" Our Comrade Soldier" followed by the years 1961-1865.  In the right arm of the star is an anchor.  There is also a picture in the left arm, but both I and a civil war buff friend are unable to make it out.  He was able to tell me though that the letters stand for Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty, the motto of the GAR. 
May their memory live on.

15 November 2012

Obituary--Mrs. Jentje Zuwerink

Now does anyone care to guess where Mrs Zuwerink was born?  With a name like that, it is clear to see that she was part of the German/Dutch immigration to our area.   Another personal connection to her is that she was the grandmother of my uncle (my dad's brother-in-law).  I always enjoy these chances to find out more about family.

From the 11 February 1937 Fremont Times Indicator.

Mrs Jentje Zuwerink, Old Resident of this County, Dies Friday

Mrs Jentje Zuwerink, a resident of this community for more than fifty years, died at the home of her son, Herman Zuwerink, 322 East Cherry street, last Friday following an illness of about two weeks.  She was seventy seven years of age.
Mrs Zuwerink was a native of the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, where she was born April 28, 1859.  Her maiden name was Jentje Koopman.  In 1886 she came to this country, at once taking up her residence near Fremont.  Two years later she was married to Geert Zuwerink of Bishop.  The couple made their home on a farm a mile west of Bishop where they lived until ten years ago.  At this time Mr. Zuwerink retired from farming and they moved to Fremont.  Mr. Zuwerink died January 13, 1929.  Mrs. Zuwerink had been in failing health for some time although she was able to make her way about the home and attended church regularly.  Two weeks ago she became ill with flu and death came Friday morning.
She leaves one son, Herman of Fremont, and three daughters, Mrs Harry Brouwer of Grand Rapids, Mrs. Bert Wolfsen of Fremont and Mrs. Charles S. Craigie of Cleveland, Ohio.  She is also survived by a brother Jacob Koopman of Los Angeles, Cal., and a sister, Mrs. John E. Frens of this city.
Funeral services were held Monday afternoon at the home.  Rev. L. J. Lamberts officiating.  Interment was made at Maple Grove cemetery.

I believe that her son Herman was the father of my Uncle George.  I hoped to have a picture of Jentje  in my collection of pictures from my cousin, but there were none. (Although there was a wonderful one of Herman, his wife Mattie, and a one year old Uncle George).   
One thing I found very enlightening was the fact that Jentje's name was used, she was not called Mrs. Geert Zuwerink.  Although, I have found it more common to use the woman's first name if she is a widow, as she was.

13 November 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--Caruso Family

This week I am not strictly talking about a tombstone, but rather a mausoleum.  This is a very prominent feature of our local city cemetery, Maple Grove Cemetery.
There are very few mausoleums in the cemetery, but this has always been a favorite of mine, even before I started working in their old building.
Our history center here in Fremont Michigan is located in what was once the family's candy store, show below. 
Looking back above to the mausoleum the other day, I was surprised to notice the stained glass window in the rear of the building.  It is very hard to make out in the picture but is is there.  I had before noted the see-thru iron doors, but had never noticed the window.  It was on Sunday noon when I saw it, and took this picture.  It stood out so clearly that for a moment I wondered if it was back lit.
I always thought the mausoleum to be impressive.   The small town I grew up in just north of here did not have any mausoleums.  I was rather in awe of the grave site being so massive compared to regular stones.
While Maple Grove Cemetery does have more than one mausoleum, this one will always be special, both for being the first I noticed, and for being the resting place for the family that build our marvelous building.

11 November 2012

Thank You Veterans

Happy Veterans Day to all veterans, whether they served in war or peace time.
For Dad (center) and his two brothers, Uncle Don and Uncle Howard, who served in World War II.  This picture sits proudly above my desk at the history center.  Dad and the Unc's as I call it. 
For my nephew, who served in Afghanistan more recently.
For my first cousins, once removed.  These two brothers both served in the Marine Corp, one of whom was there when the barracks in Beirut was bombed.
For all my brave family members, living and dead who put their life aside to fight for our country.
And for all those who have worn the uniform of one of the branches of the armed services of the United States.
Thank you all. 

09 November 2012

Obituary--Henry "Peg-Leg" Davis

I am not sure if this is so much an obituary, as an account of his body being found.  There are no dates, not even of the paper.  No personal information.  I am assuming that since this obituary was found in the Civil War scrapbooks, that he is a veteran of that war.  Even that is in doubt, as not all the information was sourced or compiled accurately.  However it is an interesting story. 
The clipping we have appears to be reprinted in the Fremont TimesIndicator, as the end of the article credits it as being from the Hesperia Union.  That alone dates it to the late 19th or early 20th century.

Arthur Cottrell Discovers Body of Man When Investigating, Monday Evening

Henry Davis, better known as "Peg-Leg" because of having one wooden leg, was found dead in his home near huber Monday morning.
Mr. Davis has been living alone on his little farm, just north of Norman Cottrell's for a number of years, and this winter has been in poor health.  Arthur Cottrell has been looking after him, and Saturday afternoon took him some provisions and Mr. Davis then complained of a terrible pain in his head.  Sunday, Nick Rossiter saw him outside of the house, and that was probably the last time he was seen alive by any one.  Monday evening Arthur Cottrell, not seeing any light there, went to investigate and found the furniture and Wood scattered all over the room and blood upon nearly everything, and Mr. Davis was found rolled up in the bed clothes at the food of the bed and his face and hands were covered with blood.  It appeared as tho he died in terrible agony.  Mr. Cottrell uncovered his face enough to see he was dead and then notified some of the neighbors, who notified Supervisor Geo. Miller, Undertaker G. M. Eldridge and Health Officer Dr. S. B. Rolison, who went to the scene Tuesday morning.
It is supposed that he died Sunday night, as his stocking hung near the stove and his wooden leg stood in the corner.  He was a bachelor and has no near relatives in this vicinity that any one knows about--Hesperia Union

As is so common with the accounts in the old papers, it is very graphic.  No paper could get away with that now.  On the other hand, if they did, maybe their sagging sales would improve. 
Not that I recommend such a thing, I don't think I would be able to read them if it was current news, and possibly about people I knew. 

06 November 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--Contrasts

This picture was taken in one of my favorite family cemeteries: Alton Cemetery, Vergennes township in Kent County, Michigan.  We don't get the really old monuments, like those in New England, or even on the east side of the state, like in Monroe.  Tall and short, marble, limestone and zinc, straight and slanted, the history of the cemetery is visible, as well as the care still taken to protect it.
In contrast, here in Fremont, the older ones, like the Poor Farm Cemetery, or Surrarrer, or even Pioneer Cemetery have been mostly stripped of their stones.  Surrarrer is an abandoned cemetery, but its history goes way back to the early settlers of the area, and even to the Native Americans who preceded them.
The Poor Farm Cemetery is a sore spot with me.  The cemetery was near the present county medical care facility.  In a misguided (in my opinion) effort to remove the sight of the cemetery from the residents of this home, when the facility was built, the stones were laid down and buried.  Personally, and this is just my thoughts, it would have been more comforting for the elderly at the home to know that these departed had been treated with respect, and honored.
Even Pioneer Cemetery was pretty much abandoned and ignored once the larger city cemetery of Maple Grove was established.  Many, but not all bodies were transferred to the new cemetery.  After falling into disuse, the remaining stones were piled into a corner.  There they remained until a local historian named Harry Spooner started researching the cemetery.  He helped organize the restoration of the cemetery, including the building and dedication of the field stone memorial, shown in the background below.
Today the cemetery is marked by this sign, and on the Memorial day when this picture was taken, our friend, the late Terry Wantz, had made sure the cemetery was marked with flags, flowers and a large sign, listing the known names of all those buried there. 

01 November 2012

Obituary: John Pittwood

One of the things that I like about the obituary postings is the things I learn about history in general.  I always thought of the Civil War as being fought by U. S citizens, born and bred.  But with the immigration from European countries, many people who fought were born in other countries. 
Such is the case with today's obituary.  Mr. Pittman was born in England and came to America with his parents at the age of 6 years.
And look, we even found his picture!  
This clipping and picture came from our Civil War files, from an unattributed area newspaper.  (Unfortunately, something that happened a lot from the collector of those files.)  From the font and format of the surrounding articles, I am guessing that this undated paper was the Newaygo Republican.  It is as flowery as are most obituaries of the time

John Pittman, Veteran of Civil War, and Splendid Citizen, Lays Down His Burden 
The subject of this memorial was born at Ringsash, Devonshire, England, Feb. 15th, 1843, and with is parents came to this country in 1849, first settling in Genesee county, N. Y., afterwarding moving to Standstone, Jackson county, and finally in Litchfield at Litchfield, Hillsdale county, which was Mr. Pittwood's home until he came to Newaygo.  He was one of the first to volunteer in defense of his country, enlisting in Co. H of the Fourth Michigan Infantry.  At Fairfax station, during the first battle of Bull's Run, the thumb of his hand was shot away and he was soon afterward discharged.  He again enlisted as chief bugler and a member of the band of the First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, serving in that capacity until his term of enlistment expired in 1864.  He took part in the battle of Stone River, (illegible).  After his discharge, he again entered the service of the (illegible) and was (illegible) in bridge building until Lee's surrender after which he returned home , and December 24, 1866 was married to Mar(illegible) Ribler, who survives him.  He came to Newaygo in 1872 and for many years followed the business of architecture and builder , and there are standing in Newaygo county today many buildings constructed by him. every one standing as monuments to his ability and integrity as a contractor.  He would never undertake anything that he was not sure of doing well.  Upright just, and fearless in his idea of honor, nothing could swerve him him from a course he had once decided was right.  He was an estimable citizens in every respect.  His value was many times recognized by his fellow citizens who called upon him to hold public office and he never failed to perform his full duty.  Four children were born to Mr and Mrs Pittwood; Mrs Blanchard of Milwaukee, William H. Pittword who died August 24, 1903, Mrs Ethelyn Janda and John Pittwood, Jr.  The death of his son William who was just entering manhood's estate and whose bright intellect and pleasing personality gave promise of an enviable position in life, was a blow from which Mr. Pittwood never recovered, and while by many the change was not noticed, his intimate friends and family knew that the affliction was a terrible one, all the more because he made every effort to conceal it.  While steadily failing in health he made a brave effort to continue in the activities of life, but a few months ago was compelled to give up.  Almost to the last he looked forwarded to recovery and made plans for the future, which it now seems was solely on account of his devoted wife and family.  When told by his physicians that the end was near, he met the situation without complaint of fear, and it was evident to all that he was prepared for the worst.  The nature of the disease was such that his stomach would not contain or digest food and death was a longed for release from the pain and suffering he so heroically endured.  His life was a model of probity and uprightness.  What John Pittwood promised, that he performed at whatever cost to himself.  His word was as good as the bond of any man.  His memory is a priceless heritage to his family and he will long be remembered as a "just and upright man."
The funeral will be held from the house at two o'clock this afternoon and will be conducted ty the Masonic fraternity of which deceased was an enthusiastic and devoted member for many years.  Fremont and other lodges have intimated their intention to represented. Rev. Greenaway of the Congregational church will officiate in the religious exercises.

Whew!  Apparently the author of this gem loved run-on sentences and a bit of poetic flavor in his writings.  And did you notice how Mr. Pittman kept on enlisting?  I never realized that happened.  I always thought they were in for the duration of the war.  Too much Gone With the Wind I guess.
The other thing that struck me in this obituary was lack of information.  Granted, the fact that wife's name was incomplete was the fault of the microfilm or copy.  But the lack of age or date of death drives me crazy!  I am not even sure he was still in Newaygo at the time.  
But of course, that isn't a far drive for me to make at times.

30 October 2012

Tombestone Tuesday: Cemetery Frustrations

One of things I find frustrating are buried and broken stones. 
Chief among these types of stones are my whole row of Gilbert family stones in Chase Cemetery, Lake County, Michigan.
Below is the second in line.  I have mentioned before, I think my frustrations with them.  To begin with, the stones for GGgrandpa Armenus and GGgranndma Adelia have no names.  Just dates with the inscription Mother (shown here--you will have to trust me.) and Father.  And as is the case through Ggrandpa Roy and Ggrandma Ada, and their oldest daughter Myrtle, they all have stones that a flush with the ground.  This picture shows what I have to contend with.  Being flush they get buried very easily.
Every year that I can get here, I have to brush back leaves, and try to trowel back the dirt that has started to bury the stones.  I skipped a year and the next year I was there, I couldn't find them.  So I must get there this spring and spend some time there digging them out.
This second stone is of the broken variety.
Very faintly it says wife of Oscar Averill.  The transcript for the cemetery says Oscar and leaves out the "wife of" part.  I was quite dismayed when I went looking for Oscar. 
 For a while I wondered if the stone for Minerva was the top half, but then I poked around the cemetery a little more.
 And there on this newer obelisk style stone for the Averill family was Minerva.
But on closer inspection....  No luck there either.  
Since Michael is, I believe Oscar's brother, I must continue to look.  And besides, I later found that Oscar's wife was Sarah, and no stone around there says Sarah.  
The search goes on.

26 October 2012

S(tuff) Happens

In current real life and in the past, s(tuff) happens.  Life here at our history center has been rather frantic, even since the Open House and Ribbon Cutting.
While those events went smoothly, we suddenly had to make sure some of the donations were scanned, as it turned out, they were not long term loans, but extremely temporary.   And that is where I have been, at the scanner, and away from the blog.  I truly hope that this will be the last hiatus for a long, long time. 
Donations continue to pour into the History Center, here in beautiful downtown Fremont Michigan.  Just yesterday, a member of Colonial Dames, who is cleaning house brought in a pile of magazines and books.  She is sorting and making sure when she is gone, things don't just get tossed, as the next generation is so prone to do.  So often we hear from visitors, when they come in to see what we do, say, "I just threw out a bunch of old (insert here: obituaries, clippings, newspapers, yearbooks, etc.) when cleaning out my mothers house after she died.
So why the picture of this stone for George Cunningham?  How does he fit the theme of this post?
George was the second (or third husband) of my 5th great-grandmother Mary Sitts, and their first born is my ancestor.  Mary let a wonderfully colorful life.  Captured by Indians from New York's Mohawk River Valley to Canada, she was raised by the family of the tribes medicine woman, possibly the chief's family.  She may have been paired with one of the tribe before being ransomed away by Colonel Nelles.  She was later married to his son, before running off with George.  See why I call her colorful?  After the death of George she remarried and lived a long full life as Granny Johnson, local medicine and herbal woman.  But I always considered the fact that she "ran off" with GGGGG-grandpa George rather romantic.  They were only married eight years before his death.  But such a tragic end.  He was helping at raising a building for a neighbor, when he apparently fell from the roof and died, leaving her with 3 small children.
Poor Mary.  As happens to so many people, now and then, when life seemed to be going along fine, s(tuff) happens.  But even when you think it is the end, life goes on.
And so it is here at the Wantz Historical Research Center.  Sandy and I never dreamed, when our funding was cut at the library, that we would continue on with this History Center being such a success.  We have been supported by the community and are thriving.  Even when things happen, sometimes you can still go along having a long full life, just like my GGGGG-granny Mary Sitts, (native), Nelles Cunningham Johnson.
So we also will continue here at the History Center.  Stop by and visit us.

07 September 2012

Obituary: Peres Miner Picket

At first glance this appears to be a reprint from an Newaygo paper.  But the date in the byline makes it look like the original article was dated March 28.  That would hardly give time for it to appear in a March Indicator.   But the obituary itself is still important, as it marks the passing of the old guard.  It is especially my own G.A.R. ancestor died a few years later.  While I have seen a hard copy of his obituary, in the Reed City Clarion, I have not been able to obtain a copy.  Hopefully this obituary will be of use to his descendents.
From an unidentified Fremont Times Indicator from March or April of 1933:

Newaygo, March 28.--Peres Miner Picket, born in New York state on Jan. 30, 1843, died at his home here Monday at the age of 90.  Mr. Pickett came to Michigan at the age of 9 and lived in Eaton county for a short time, then came to Newaygo at the age of 16 and lived in this vicinity or maintained his home here for 74 years.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mr. Pickett, then 18 years old said he was 21 as many did and enlisted in the Second Michigan calvary.  He was wounded and on recovering attempted to enlist again but found himself barred on account of his former service.  He attempted it again, this time under a different name, without divulging his former enlistment and served three years more.
In 1865 Mr. Pickett married Miss Ellen Platt who died here in 1915 and in 1918 he married Bilinda Shineldocker.
Mr Pickett was an active member of the Samuel Judd G. A. R.  post which once had a large membership here.  He was the last survivor and to him was given the colors to carry on to the end.  This flag will be used to drape his casket and then returned to his family.
for many years after the war, Mr. Pickett was occupied as a mason and a carpenter.  He is survived by the widow, one daughter, Mrs. Flora Burnes of Newaygo; two sons, Ed of Grand Rapids and Roy of Newaygo.
Funeral services will be held at the Newaygo congregational church Wednesday at 2 p. m.  Burial in the Newaygo cemetery.

I find it touching that the flag from the chapter was used on his casket and that it was then the property of the family.  And on a side note, what did that enlisting under another name do to his pension records?  Nothing like using an assumed name to mess with the genealogists' mind.  Especially as they did not mention here what that name was. 

04 September 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--Peter and Mary Wells

I wanted to share to the stone of my maternal great-great grandparents, located in the Copemish Cemetery. 
It was one of my finds when cemetery hopping with my cousin.  We found the Stiver branch as soon as we drove in on the right hand side of the drive.  After that serendipitous start, we covered the entire right side rows of the cemetery with no luck. 
We continued to circle the small older cemetery, working methodically.  As we neared the end, we were in despair that with the day getting late, we may have to start in the newer cemetery, across the road.  Just as we were almost done with that side of the road, as the sprinkles started, we found them.
GGreat Grandpa Peter Delos Wells and GGrandma Mary Jane Nolf were married in April 1871 and their oldest son Calvin Wells is my ancestor.  This nice stone is simple, yet nicely shaped and in fairly good condition.  The main problem is the lichens, which plagued many of the stones there.
Just down the row from them, next to the road, were Mary Jane's family the Nolfs.  Unfortunately, by that time the sprinkles were a bit much, and the picture was rather waterspotted.  But it is always so fun to find ancestors. 
Even if they do like to hide as long as possible.

01 September 2012

Obituary--Mrs. John J (GertrudeVanderPloeg) Oosting

In many ways, this obituary is typical of many area obituaries of this time.  Born in the Netherlands, a member of First Reformed Church, and even the so common blatant typo/editorial mess-up.  But in this one, a little more is given about her.  Her maiden name and brief biography, that are so often missing, are told here.  It is refreshing to see a detailed yet unembellished obituary.
From the 20 February 1930 Fremont Times Indicator.

 Mrs. John . Oosting died Monday night at her home on Decker Ave at the age of 88 years.  She fell and dislocated her hip and broke a limb about two years ago and had been in ill health since that time.
Mrs .Oosting is survived by her (this is the mess-up I spoke of, the line is repeated in the proper place below.) was Gertrude VanderPloeg, was born in the Netherlands October 12, 1841 and was married when she was 24 years of age to John J. Oosting.  Nine days after their marriage they left for America and settled in Muskegon where they lived until 1886 when they moved to Fremont and took up farming a mile south and a quarter mile east of Fremont.  They lived there until 1903.  They then moved to Fremont and have since made their home in the city. 
She was a member of the First Reformed church.
Mrs. Oosting is survived by her husband, one daughter, Mrs. C. J. Appel of Grand Rapids and four sons, Peter, Jacob, Corneil, and John all of Fremont.  Two sons died in infancy.
The funeral service will be held this afternoon at 1:30 from the home and 2:00 from the First Reformed church, East Main St. the pastor, Rev, Wm. Rottschaefer, officiating.  Interment will be in Maple Grove cemetery. 

Just a simple little obituary. 
And one other item that is a sign of the times.  That simple sentence: Two sons died in infancy.  Those were simpler times to be sure, but also more fraught with heartache and danger.

29 August 2012

Tombstone Wednesday(?)--Elizabeth Cunningham Smith

This stone in Chase Cemetery, Lake County, Michigan, is a replacement stone.  Some of my distant cousins had it put in place in 2006, as you can see by the cement base. 
Elizabeth Cunningham Smith was born in Ontario Canada.  I like her because she is my tangible link to Mary Sitts, who as a young girl was captured by Indians from the Mohawk River Valley in New York and taken to Canada.  Mary Sitts was Elizabeth's grandmother.  Elizabeth is my great, great, great grandmother.  Her father was Mary's second husband, the one she "ran off with."  After that husband fell from a roof and died, she married John Johnson and settled eventually in Norfolk county, Ontario.  Loved that story.
Elizabeth came to Michigan with her husband, Levi Smith and children.  There they settled in and thrived.  Their previous stone was illegible.  I do not have a picture of the original stone, so it may have been completely gone, or perhaps never existed in the first place.
I am so grateful that these two cousins were able to put this stone in place.
And sorry about the lateness.  Connectivity and busyness continue to conspire against me.

21 August 2012

Quick Tombstone Tuesday--Armenus and the No Name Stone

Just a quick post today.  It was a busy day at our history center.  Always a good thing.
But I wanted to share the stone of my great-grandfather Armenus.  He is my first discovery, and I was so delighted to find his stone.
But as you can see, not much identifying information.  In the beginning I had to go by the fact that Great Grandpa Roy was next to him and his wife, along side his wife Ada.  Since Ada's father's stone is in another section, I knew this was Armenus.  Especially when I was able to get his Civil War papers and verify some other dates.
This stone, along with the others in the line, drive me crazy.  Flat, constantly getting covered by sod, and Armenus and Adelia's with no names.

17 August 2012

Obituary--Eva M (Mrs. Harry) Hooker

This is a straightforward simple obituary, of a woman who lived nearly her whole life in this area.  While born outside Newaygo county, her early home was in a neighboring township.  Her surname and that of her husband, are names of people in my neighborhood.  She was very young, but, since she attended what later became Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, she was apparently healthy enough to venture from home.   I wonder, given the death coming a mere 9 months after marriage if she died in childbirth. 

From the 20 February 1930 Fremont TimesIndicator:


Mrs. Harry Hooker passed away Tuesday at Gerber Memorial hospital.  She was 23 years, five months and 21 days old.
Mrs Hooker, whose maiden name was Eva M. Church was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Riley Church and was born in Holton township August 27, 1906 .  She spent the greater part of her life in that vicinity.  She graduated from the Holton high school and later attended Western State Teachers college, Kalamazoo.
She was married May 17, 1929, to Harry Hooker of Brookside and sonce (repeated line here that apparently covers another line) Harry Hooker of Brookside and since Croton where Mr. Hooker teaches school.
Besides her husband, she is survived by her parents, four sisters and three brothers.
The funeral services will be held Friday afternoon ad 12:30 o'clock from the home of Mr. and Mrs. Riley Church and at the 1:30 o'clock from the Reeman christian Reformed church.  The pastor, Rev. Herman Goodyk, will officiate.  Interment will be in Reeman cemetery.

I think the editors had a bit of problem correcting their spelling error.  They changed sonce to since, but put the correction in place of the wrong line.  I dare say the missing line went something like "since then they have resided in Croton."

14 August 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Anscomb Cemetery

Once again, I am stretching the Newaygo county boundaries with this one.  This is located in nearby Muskegon county, but only barely. 
One evening after work, several years ago, my co-partner in crime Sandy, and another friend, Lois, went out determined to locate this cemetery.
As near as I can remember, (and take this with a grain if salt if you wish) this nearly abandoned cemetery was near an artillery shooting/practice range.  I guess either for a gun club, or the national guard.  Perhaps for the factory in Muskegon who used to manufacture tanks.  That part I am fuzzy on.  But as a result, cemetery and its grave stones and rumored former Indian mounds are nearly gone. 
 As you can see above, there are one or two stones in remarkable shape.  Allen and Maggie Anscomb only died in 1948 and 1936 respectively according to their stone.
Other, presumably older stones are much less clear.
 The best I can make out on the above stone is that it is the daughter of Allen and Maggie Anscomb.  Since the parents are buried in the previous stone, apparently it is a sibling or other family member who still remembers this grave with the silken lilies.
 The most noticeable feature of Anscomb cemetery is this small wrought iron enclosure.  How it managed to stay intact is probably a modern miracle.  Since the cemetery has been kept mowed, except for the interior of this, maybe the sexton has been keeping it up as best they can.
 Here is a closer view of the wrought iron fence, with the gate post.  The corners and gate posts were square structures.  There are flowers inside the plot, but also it was overgrown with ferns and other plants.  While rather rusty, perhaps someone still has a key to get inside and clear it occasionally.  If you look closely, in the background, you can see Sandy and Lois pulling weeds and generally tidying the grounds. 
This is one of the few upright stones, and you can see where it has apparently was broken off just above the plaque-like section with the name.  Also, if there was a finial on top, that is long gone.  This stone for James Anscomb, who died in (I think) either 1883 or 1888 is still fairly clear, and again, with flowers below, proves that someone still is taking care of this cemetery, despite the treatment it received in the past.

11 August 2012

Obituary: Frank Cook

This is not so much an obituary but a rather a long article about an automobile accident that caused the death of a passenger.  Still it does tell about his death, and the times. 

Reprinted in the Fremont TimesIndicator 21 Sept 1922, from the White Cloud Eagle:


White Cloud Eagle--
Running out of the road and into the ditch, the Ford car driven by H. J. Hanson turned turtle about 5:30 o'clock Friday afternoon, Sept. 8, just east of the Selin residence near the Decker bridge, and Fron Cook, a single man of Everett township, was killed.  Mr. Hanson was bruised somewhat but nothing at all serious.
Mr. Hanson stated to The Eagle he was driving west when he passed a car.  As he passed the car, he got a flat tire on the right front wheel, which veered him to the side of the road, where he hit a small washout which dragged him further out.  He stated he was not going over 20 miles an hour, but he could not get the wheel back onto the road, that he continued thus, getting farther out of the road, until the right fender struck a tree which prevented going further down into the hole which is about three or four feet dee,p but level at the bottom.  With the left wheels near the top of the embankment and the right wheels down in the hole the car was nearly on edge, and flopped upside down soon after passing the tree.  Mr. Hanson stated he thought had the tree not been in the way the car could have been driven into the hole with out upsetting.
Both men were pinned underneath the car, with Cook's face downward and Hanson on top of him.  As the cap came off the gasoline tank the clothing of the men and the ground were soaked with gasoline, the fumes of which is ascribed as being the cause of Cook's death.
While the top of the car and windshield weredemolished, the rest of the car was not so badly damaged but what it was towed home soon after the accident.
Justice of the Peace Reed acted as coroner and empaneled a jury consisting of J. J. Terwillegar, Lyle Webster, N. E. Branch, J. N. Patterson, W. E. Patterson and David Moote.
Mrs. Charles Selin, who saw the car go in the ditch, called her husband and his brother Ed who were bathing in the river, also telephoned to town.   Before the arival of the Selin boys to the scene of the accident, Albert McGowan passed along.  He cut some poles and tried to raise the car, but couldn't even with the assistance of Ira Johnson who arrived about five minutes later.  As the pair were vainly tugging on the pole, W. J. Larkin was driving along, and the three succeeded in raising the car off the postrate forms below.
After hearing testimony of witnesses the jury rendered a verdict that Frank Cook had met an accidental death.

In current times, how much different are peoples response.  It is almost dangerous for those passing by to lend assistance.  And three passersby just cut a pole (?) and finally lifted the car off the victims.  With leaking gas and fumes all around.   Yikes.  
Another point that struck me, back in the early days of automobiles, after rolling over, they later just towed home, "not so badly damaged."  Changing times indeed.

07 August 2012

Tombestone Tuesday: Chester Township Relatives

 For a long time, when I was just beginning my genealogical journey, I thought my Gilbert line just dropped out of nowhere. 
But then, on the 1890 Civil War Census, for Michigan I made my first discovery.  My great-great-grandfather Armenus.  And with him came a whole boatload of Gilberts. 
 As I researched further, I found that after the Civil War, Armenus and his family came to Michigan from Ohio.  They settled in what is now Chester township Michigan, just a few miles from where his son, my great-grandpa Roy last lived in Muskegon county, Michigan.   With that and contact with a distant Gilbert cousin, I discovered a world of cousins. 
 And armed with that information, and the help of the Chester township website linked above, I ventured to Chester township and its cemeteries. 
Regardless of the background visible above, behind my ggg-grandparents stone, I was surprised to find the area to be rolling graveling hills.  So much of Michigan that isn't low, flat and swampy are these glacial moraines.  What surprised me was that it was so similar to the area in northern Newaygo, southern Osceola counties that my family later moved to.  Heck, even the land I grew up on, next to my grandparents farm was similar.  
These stones were found in McNitt cemetery.  Sadly the death information for Jacob was never filled in.  The stone below is inscribed with his death date. 
 It is so wonderful to find websites devoted to township history, like the one linked above.  The actual township sites only list the owners of the graves and if they are open or closed.  The historical site gives the cemetery burial information with lot number, names and dates.
Another township cemetery of interest to me was the Bennett Cemetery. It is a smaller cemetery, on a side road with deep ditches and not much parking.
In this cemetery are many relatives of the wive of Armenus Gilbert, Adelia Averill.  Below is the stone, I believe of her mother.
In a printed transcript I have seen this listed as Oscar's grave.  Although it is hard to make out in this picture, the portion of this stone that remains says"Wife of" above the more clearly written Oscar Averill.  I have looked around, as best I could for the upper portion of the stone.  But without digging, this is the best I could find. 
I find it very interesting that I was able to feel so at home in the region my ancestors came to in Michigan.  It makes you wonder, is there some kind of genetic imprinting of the type of land that feels like home?  Especially when the family next moved to similar ground a bit north, and more recently my parents and grandparents also built their home on the same rolling moraines of Oceana county Michigan.

03 August 2012

Obituary: Paul Troost

Most readers know by now that I love reading these old obituaries.  Even if you move away from town, your obituary can still make it in the local paper.  Of course, often the deceased is the close relative of a current resident.  That still is the case today as well. What often drives me crazy, is those obituaries where you are left to wonder why they appeared in our local paper. 

From the 20 February 1930 Fremont Times Indicator.

John Troost received a telegram from Portland, Oregon last week announcing the death of his father, Paul Troost, a former resident of Fremont, who died at the age of 84 years.
Mr. Troost was born in the Netherlands, April 10, 1845, and came to this country as a young man.  He was married in Grand Rapids to Miss Mattie Bouwman and they lived in Big Rapids before coming to Fremont almost 38 years ago.  Mr. and Mrs. Troost left here for Oregon in 1910 and lived there until their deaths, the latter passing away in 1920.
Mr. Troost is survived by the following children: Joe Troost of Niles, Neal and Homer Troost, Mrs Kate Webber and Mrs. Mattie Wheeler all of Portland, Mrs. Walter Gorham of Beaverton, Ore., Paul Troost of Seattle, Wash., and John Troost of this city.
The body was interred in Portland.

I was puzzled at the line about the son in Fremont just receiving a telegram, and nothing noted about him going.  In my mind I was imagining the parent all alone, clear across the country.  But reading on, it was clear that there was plenty of family out west.  The parents had left about 20 years ago, and the mother had died 10 years after the move.  Perhaps an estrangement.  Perhaps a question of distance and money.  Just another mystery from long ago.

31 July 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: An Infinite Variety

It always amazes me that cemetery stones come in so many different varieties.  Flush to the surface, tall, stout, thin and massive.  This massive stone from Newaygo county is definitely massive.  The Brooks were a prominent family in early Newaygo county history, and this is a very fitting monument.
I am sure that cost is a factor in some of the variety.  But even so, it is fun to see the many different shapes these stones come in.
Of course one of the most obvious shapes of the older stones is the obelisk shape. The one above, from Jewell cemetery is a smaller but typical example of those.  And in the background are two of the very common and more recent wedge shaped stones.   They seem to have replaced the obelisk in modern usage.
Another style of cemetery stones not seen any more is the cement logs or trees.  This one above from the Newaygo cemetery is a fine example of the tree stump variety.  Another style is this one below found in Clark cemetery.
This type of stone I call the stack of logs.  Usually there is some kind of scroll cascading down, or a plaque to display the family name.  My Samis line has one, in Chase cemetery, with nothing written on the stone.  So frustrating.
Not so common is the style above.  A more shaped stone.  It is ornate and often like a medallion. This one is also in Clark cemetery.
Then there are the handmade stones. This one from Curtice cemetery in northern Newaygo county
county is one of my favorites.  It is my great-grandfather’s stone and the picture was taken by a friend who only thought it was an interesting stone.  It is constructed of cement and then painted silver.  This particular cemetery has several of these painted stones.  Other handmade stones are of cement, treated lumber, or even iron work. 
The ways that the deceased are remembered in are definitely of infinite variety.

26 July 2012

Obituaries: Hazel Hopkins

I missed Tuesdays post again due to connectivity problems.  Hmmm.  I wonder if all the road construction in town is interfering with our connection?
Anyway, this is not technically an obituary, but it is a report about a girls death.  Sadly this type of death seems to have been all too common.  And it still occasionally happenes today.  

From an unspecified paper.  The only date on it is "1930 -31?" hand-written across the top.


Hazel Hopkins, 14, Succumbs After Kerosene Explosion

Hesperia, May 31.  One girl is dead and another is near death in a Fremont hospital following the explosion of kerosene used by the children in an attempt to start a fire in a stove at the farm home of Jesse Marten, two miles south of here about 8 o'clock Wednesday evening.
Hazel Hopkins, 14-year-old sister of Mrs. Marten, died at 2 a. m. Thursday in Fremont hospital and Florence, 12-year-old daughter of the Martens, is in critical condition.
Mr. and Mrs. Marten and their four smaller children were visiting a neighbor at the time of the accident.  The home was not damaged to any extent from the fire that followed the explosion.
According to a story told by Hezel just after the explosion the two girls were filling a lamp with kerosene and also were using the oil stove, The oil exploded and enveloped both girls in flames.  Hazel dashed from the house and ran across the road to the home of Duncan McCallum, owner of the farm on which the Martens lived.  She hurridly told her story of the accident and McCallum  rushed to the Marten home and found it in darkness.
He tried several doors before he gained admission to the house and then he could not find Florence at once.  After a search he found her unconscious in a bedroom.  Her clothes were virtually burned from her body.
McCallum carried Florence to his home and a physician was called.  Both girls later were removed to Gerber Memorial hospital in Fremont.  According to McCallum, Hazel's clothing was burned from her body when she arrived at the McCallum home and she was soon lapsed into unconsciousness from which she never recovered.
The Martens have lived on the farm about a year.

This was followed, apparently in the next week's paper by the following notice.


Hesperia, June 6.  Hopes are held for the recovery of Florence Marten, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Morten, who was severely burned by explosion of kerosene, which caused the death of Hazel Hopkins, 14, sister of Mrs. Morten.  Miss Morten is in a hospital at Fremont.
Funeral services for Miss Hopkins were held Monday at the Lambers chapel at Hesperia and the body was taken to Fremont cemetery for burial.

Several things come to my attention on reading these clippings. 
One of course is the causal attention paid to the spelling of names.  Hazel became Hezel just a few lines later.  And the Marten family became the Morten family a week later.
The second is trying to identify the paper.  Because of the byline noting Hesperia, at first thought it would be the Fremont papers.  But the people are from the Hesperia area, so perhaps the articles are from the Hesperia paper.  The only thing that puzzles is again the Hesperia byline at the beginning of the articles.  
But until I can get my hands on Hesperia microfilm, which I am not sure exists, I guess I will have to continue puzzle about.

20 July 2012

Obituary--"Uncle Joe" Reed

In the same paper as the obituary posted last week for Manly Seymour, was another one for Joe Reed.  While both men died out of town, Mr. Reed's obituary is a bit smaller and less detailed.  Perhaps it is that his life was less in the public eye, or maybe or the fact that he was not a life-long resident.  But still, at least the details were recorded in the obituary. 

From the 26 January 1939 Fremont TimesIndicator.

"Uncle Joe" Reed, 92, Dies Tuesday At Muskegon
 Funeral services will be held at two o'clock this afternoon from the Crandel and Ensing funeral home for Joseph Reed, 92, early Brookside resident, who died Tuesday evening at his home in Muskegon after an illness of about a month.
Rev. Arthur E. Gay, pastor of the Fremont Congregational church will officiate at the services.  Burial will be made in the Holton cemetery.
"Uncle Joe" Reed, as he was more familiarly known to local residents, was born in Canada, April 15, 1846, and was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Reed.  He came to the United States in 1886, settling on a farm near Brookside.  His wife died shortly after her marriage to Mr. Reed many years ago.  He lived with Mr. and Mrs. A. I. Miller for 35 years, moving to Muskegon a year and a half ago.  He was a carpenter by trade.
He is survived only by his niece, Mrs. A. I. Miller.

Ok.  That explains his nickname of Uncle, since he lived for years with his niece.  This leaves me asking why he moved, at the probably age of 90, to Muskegon, unless he was in some sort of nursing home or hospital.   But, as with so many of these obituaries, they leave me asking for more than they tell me.

17 July 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--Peter and Mary Wells

 I thought I would share the stones of my great-great grandparents through my maternal grandmother.  I never got to know any of Grandma's family, other than her sister, my great Aunt Neva.  I am embarassed to admit but as a child I hated to visit her.  It seemed like every time we went to see her, we had a horrible store.  (Trees blown down in the road or blizzards.  Every time!)  On the upside, we got to have "jump steak" which I loved when we visited.  (That is venison for the uninitiated.)
One July in 2004, one of my cousins who also has been bit with the genealogy bug went finding ancestors.  Some of the graves we looked up were ones I had previously found.  I'll share more of them another time. But these in Copmish were brand new to both of us. 

 The graves of PeterWells (18 January, 1844 to 15 March, 1924) and Mary Jane (Nolf) Wells (20 October 1852 to 23 December 1929) are located in the Copmish cemetery, Cleon township, Manistee county, Michigan, along with many of my Stiver line. 
 The cemetery is a split cemetery.  The smaller, and apparently older portion is on the north side of the road and is where my family are located.  At least it seemed to be older.  We never got to the south side of the road because it was much larger.  And we had found everyone we were looking for in the north cemetery.
I must go back there, because althugh I did find the parents of Mary there as well, I had a drop of water on my camera lens and all the pictures after these three have one blurry corner.
But for a Cemetery Diva like me, I can't think of anything I would rather do.

14 July 2012

Obituarie--Cassius and Mary Bunker

This is a touching obituary, where a long time couple, died within a few hours of each other.  I have seen that often in reviewing the old obituaries.  One of my set of great-great-grandparents, William and Abigail Brown Cross, died withing a couple weeks of each other.  (If I could find an obituary, I would share that here.)  But where my family members died as result of a house fire and smoke inhalation, these two devoted people died of illness and a heart ailment. 

From an undated, un-named paper with only 1937 handwritten on the top:

Man and Wife Die Three Hours Apart
Years of Devotion End for Mr., Mrs. Bunker of Bailey

Bailey, Feb 1--(Special)--Many years of devotion to each other ended here Sunday when Mrs. Mary Bunker, 74 years old, died at her home at 6 A. M., and her husband Cassius Bunker, 76 years old, a retired merchant, died three hours later.
Mrs. Bunker had suffered from a heart ailment for three years and much of the time she had been confined to her bed.  With patient solicitude, Mr. Bunker cared for his wife until two weeks ago when he became suddenly ill.  A week later he also became confined to his bed.
The aged husband became unconscious Saturday.  He did know know that his wife had died.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Bunker had lived in Muskegon county nearly all their lives and had been residents of this community for many years.
When Mr. Bunker became ill and was no longer able to care for his wife, Mrs. Howard Seccomb of Lansing, the only daughter of the couple, came to keep a bedside vigil.  When she was unable to be at the parental home, Mrs. Carl Pendell of this community stayed there.
Double funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday from the Church of Christ of which Mrs. Bunker was a charter member, with Rev. Frederick Pinch, pastor of the Newaygo Congregational church, conducting.  Burial will be made in Seaman, hear here.  The bodies will lie in state at the church from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday. 
Mrs. Bunker is survived by one sister, Mrs. Clare Reeves of Addison, and three brothers, John Davis of Traverse City, and Joseph and George Davis both of Bailey.  Mr. Bunker is survived by one brother, Miles Bunker of Muskegon.

Since this came to us by way of a visitor, and not from the microfilm, I suspect this is perhaps from one of the Grand Rapids newspapers.  Bailey is a very small community and  located quite a distance from the nearest larger towns.  Muskegon and Grand Rapids are quite a distance, and since Bailey south of Newaygo county.  Although it is in Muskegon county, Grand Rapids is closer, and if I were a relative searching further, I would look at Muskegon county vital records, but also look in the Grand Rapids newspapers for information on this family. 
Sometimes, it helps knowing the area.

13 July 2012

Names and Places

Here at the Terry Wants Historical Research Center, one of the resources that we are working is an index of our scrapbooks.  These books were kept by area residents of newspaper clippings of people they knew, for the most part.  Occasionally there are clippings of items of national news that was of interest to them as well.  Charles Lindberg's transatlantic flight for example.  But most are of local news: marriages, anniversaries, enlistments, etc.
The scrapbook I am currently indexing is full of small articles from a nearby town in the county, Newaygo Michigan.  The time frame of this one is mostly early 1940's, the World War II era.  Most of the articles I have come across has been of service men and women: being on service roll after the war, going to training, working with the SeaBees and other gossipy tidbits of friends and family.  Finding so many of the same names repeating, they begin to almost seem like family.
Occasionally though, a series of clippings will really touch me. 
Since the book is not always pasted together in chronalogical order, sometimes I will find an entry about someone attending training, or being shipped to the Pacific or European theatre.  While saving the clipping under their name, I frequently find a previously saved clipping under the same name.  And sometimes the previous clipping provides a poignant bit of foresight.  While saving a clipping that someone was missing, I found a clipping about them being released from POW camp.
Sometimes it may be a clipping about their heading to combat after a leave, only to find one already saved about their memorial service.
Sometimes foresight is the pits.

12 July 2012

Obituary--Manly C. Seymour

Back some time ago we featured a tribute to Mr. Seymour's wife that had probably been written by my favorite flowery obituary writer, Mrs. Robertson.  Here I've found the obituary of Mr Seymour.  Several years after his wife's death, he is only 59 years old, but a prominent resident of Hesperia whose name appeared frequently in articles about the Hesperia area. 

From the 26 January 1939 Fremont TimesIndicator:


Fatally Stricken At Wheel Of Car While On Visit To Indiana Saturday

Manley C. Seymour, a prominent Hesperia resident, was unexpectedly taken by death when he was stricken by a heart attack as he was driving his car at New Haven, Indiana, last Saturday noon.  He had been in ill health for several weeks and wat the time of his death was visiting relatives in Indiana.  He was 59 years old.
Mr Seymour was a resident of Hesperia all his life and was born at that place September 30, 1879.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Seymour.  On June 1904 he married Miss Etta Johnson who died 14 years ago.   As a young man he operated a harness shop in Hesperia and later owned a store.  For the past several years he owned a service station in the village which he recently leased out.  He was a member of the village council until last year and was a member of the Greater Hesperia association.  During 1935-36 he was Newaygo county welfare agent.  Last fall he was candidate for the Republican nomination for the state legislature from the Newaygo-Oceana district.
For the past 10 days he had been visiting his daughter Evelyn June, at the home of his brother-in-law, Clyde Moon and family in New Haven.  While driving his car about the town he succumbed to his heart ailment and the car continued through a stop light at an intersection, coming to a halt against a telephone pole.
Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon from the Hesperia Methodist church of which he was a lifelong member.  Rev. E. M. Mumby, pastor of the church officiated.  Burial was made at East cemetery, Hesperia.
Besides his daughter, he is survived by one sister, Mrs. Gladys Evans.

The headlines were rather frightening on this one, stricken while driving his car, but apparently he was the only one insured.  But he was apparently a real go-getter, having owned several businesses in Hesperia, as well as active in the county and state politics.  And as a native of Hesperia, I had to chuckle at the phrase "Greater Hesperia association," as Hesperia is not a very large village.  Clearly Mr. Seymour was a person who was able to adapt to the changing times, as he started out with a harness shop, and ended up with a service station.