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. 

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