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.