31 May 2012

Obituary--Pvt. Dale DeVere Whitney

As promised, on this the original Memorial Day/Decoration Day, I have the obituary of our area heroes.  This one is different, not a veteran, but a fallen soldier from World War I.  And a very ironic one because, he received the fatal wound just one hour before the armistice.  
Here is the obituary of Pvt. Dale Devere Whitney, from the 11 August 1921 Fremont TimesIndicator, as reprinted from the Grant Herald.
Funeral of Former Fremont Boy Held in Grant July 31--Died in France November 12, 1918
(Grant Herald)
The funeral of Pvt. Dale DeVere Whitney was held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. from the Grant Community church, Rev. Livingstone officiating.  The church was crowded to the doors while two hundred people unable to even find standing room within, stood outside.  Approximately 60 ex-service men were in uniform attended in a body, representing Ensley, Newaygo and Grant American Legion Posts with a firing squad from Kent City.
About 100 automobiles formed in the procession to the Shippy cemetery where, under the direction of Lieut. DeBoer, of the Carl Johnson Post, Grand Rapids, the impressive military service was conducted.  After the committal service was read the firing squad fired three volleys over the grave, then as a hush fell upon all, from far away the sad sweet notes of "Taps" and once more the brave wearer of the khaki was "at ease."
Dale DeVere Whitney was born at Shelby, April 8th, 1898.  He attended Grant public school in 1908.  At the age of 13 Dale took the eighth grade examination and had the highest standing of any person in the county.  He later attended Fremont high school, from which he graduated in 1915 at the age of 17.  While in high school Dale was very much interested in athletics, being a member of both the football and the track teams.  He was also a member of the glee club and by his cherry manner was a general favorite in the school and community.
On May 14, 1915, he enlisted in the Muskegon National Guards and left with Co. G. for Grayling and from there to Waco, Texas, where he was assigned to Co. I, 126th infantry, Sept. 23, 1917.  After reaching Franch he was transferred to Co. F, 107 supply train.  Here he distinguished himself for daring as a truck driver, his officers stating that there was never a dangerous commission that he hesitated in taking and where other drivers failed to get thru he accomplished the task assigned him.
It was on the morning of the armistice, at ten o'clock that he was wounded by a bursting shell.  He died the following day, Nov. 12, 1918.
Blessed Memorial Day.  Remember those who fought and died for us.  As well as those who fought and survived.

29 May 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Holton Cemetery

 This past Sunday, I finally was able to get some pictures of nearby Holton Cemetery.  It is also known, as you can see in the final picture, Oakwood Cemetery.  However, since the county has another cemetery by the same name, in Muskegon, locals commonly refer to it as Holton cemetery.
 Besides, the original sign, as you can see, simply says Holton.
Being the day before Memorial Day, as it is celebrated now, it was lush, and full of flags and flowers.  Holton cemetery is full of mature Pines, and other trees.  Even though the temperatures were high, the breeze and shade allowed me to take plenty of pictures without melting too badly.  (I'll freely admit, I love winter and am a wimp in anything above 75 degrees.
 Holton cemetery is a delightful blend of old and new graves.  This week, I am focusing on older graves and overall pictures.
While not many graves here are damaged, there are a few where you can see attempts to mend.
 The iron bands held somewhat, but you can see that the years have taken a toll on this poor old stone.  At least the pieces are all together.
 This stone for Raymond Mills, while not intact, is still readable and the pieces all there.
The most touching sight was this, after I had driven past my in-laws graves (and my future resting place).  I had passed these stones many times, but without the flags, I never noticed this grouping of eight Civil War Veterans.
Once again, my thanks goes out to those who preserved the nation and our freedoms.
The Oakwood Cemetery/Holton deserves a second glance.  Next week, some of the more varied stones found there will be featured.

27 May 2012

Oops, My Mistake

I mentioned the "real" Memorial Day as being the 31st.  It was the 30th.  But my posting will still post on the 31st.
So I'm stretching the holiday.

25 May 2012

Obituary--Oliver C. Buckingham

In honored memory of some of our forgotten heroes, I am devoting the next two obituaries to a couple of our local veterans of prior wars.  And since Memorial Day came about as a day when the graves of the Civil War veterans were decorated, it is only far that the first obituary should be that of the last of Fremont's G A R members. 
 So with here is the first, from the pages of 5 January 1939 Fremont TimesIndicator.

Oliver Buckingham, Last G A R Survivor, Dies Tuesday at Grand Rapids
Was One Of Few Living Witnesses Of Gen. R. E. Lee's Surrender
Oliver C. Buckingham, the last of the few of Michigan's veterans to witness General Robert E. Lee's surrender, died Tuesday at the home of his grandson, Marvin VanBuskirk, of Grand Rapids.  He was the last survivor of the Henry Dobson post, G. A. R. of Fremont and was 92 years of age.
Mr. Buckingham was born in New York state April 23, 1847.  At that time his father was in service in the Mexican War.  His father died when Oliver Buckingham was only four years old.  When he was 15 he left school and moved to Pennsylvania where the oil boom was at its height, working for a while at Titusville and later at Oil City.
At the outbreak of the Civil War he was among the young men from the oil fields who enlisted in the service.  He was 17 at the time.  He was enlisted in company E, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry and was sent to Washington for training.  During this stay he saw President Lincoln twice.  Within a few weeks his detachment was sent into Virginia where he was engaged in the Battle of the Wilderness.  He served under General Sherman in the south and was present to see the general make his famous ride into Atlanta.  At the close of the war he was with Grant at Appomattox and was able to give a vivid description of the surrender of Robert E. Lee;s forces to the Union General.  He said that Lee rode over on his horse and presented Grant with his sword, which Grant took and then returned to Lee, saying "General Lee, you are a brave man and a good general."  Lee then told his men to break ranks and go home to their farms.  The Union soldiers went to Richmond and were discharged.
About a year after his discharge from the cavalry he enlisted again, this time with the U. S. Navy and after a year at the Brooklyn Navy yard he was assigned to the Delaware, which made a three year cruise to South America, St. Helena, Cape Town, the East Indies, Hong Kong, Singapore and Yokohama.
Following his discharge from the navy he came to Michigan, settling in Grand Rapids where he was employed at the Grand Rapids Wagon Works and also the Grand Rapids Bending Works.  He also worked in lumber camps and in lumbering drives down the river.  His lumbering work was done around Houghton Lake, where the firm by which he was employed was cutting virgin pine.
In 1887 Mr. Buckingham moved to Fremont and with the exception of the past several winters which were spent in Grand Rapids, has made his home here.  He was married in 1978 to Maggie Burrows of Grand Rapids, who died a few years later.  In 1897 he married Mary Washburn of Grand Rapids.  Three children were born to them one of whom died at the age of 11 years.  The other two, Mrs. Ruth VanBuskirk of Grand Rapids and Julius of Detroit survive their father.  He also leaves a step-daughter, Mrs. Blanche Giles of Florida and two grandchildren, Marvin VanBuskirk and Mrs. Theresa Noneman of Grand Rapids.
Funeral services will be held tomorrow at the VanStrien mortuary in Grand Rapids and interment will be in Fairplains cemetery.

It amazes me how long lived some of the Civil War veterans were.  My own great-great-grandfather who was a GAR member as well, lived until 90.  Maybe it was the clean air and hard work.  Maybe it was genetics.  After all my GGgrandpa Armenus was the middle of three generations who lived to be 90.  Either way, those who fought and died or fought and survived were no wimps.  They saved the union and continued to wrestle out a living.  My hat goes off to them. 

I will continue with another  veteran's obituary on the "real" Memorial Day.  See you then.

18 May 2012

Obituary--Neil McCallum

This is another obituary that I am not sure of the author, but it could possibly be by Mrs. Robertson.  The area is right.  He has a name that comes up in her writings, and he is Scottish.  She loved her native land of Scotland.  Perhaps this was a closer relative, or perhaps she was simply unable to write up his obituary.  In any case, here he is.

From the 22 April, 1920, Fremont Times Indicator:


Was Stricken While Assisting Son in Orchard--Was Leader for Many Years

Neil McCallum, one of the best known Newaygo county pioneers, passed away on the far of his son, Archie McCallum, north of Hesperia, Monday afternoon while assisting his son trim trees in the orchard.  Although in failing health during the past yar Mr. McCallum was not incapacitated for work and felt well enough to assist in the orchard Monday when he was stricken.
Mr. McCallum was born in Scotland October 10, 1841, and cam to American with his parents in 1856, settling in Oceana county.  He lived at home until he was 22 years of age when he rented a farm in Dayton township from his brother and remained there about three years, In 1865 he bought 122 acres of land in Dayton and later enlarged his holdings. 
He was married in Denver township December 24, 1864, to Sarah A. Cogswell and to them were born eight children, five of whom survive, namely, Mrs. Chas. Reynolds, Archibald, Henry and Duncan McCallum of Hesperia and George McCallum of Chicago.  Marie, Mary and Annie are deceased.  Mrs. McCallum passed away about 10 years ago.
In the passing of Mr. McCallum this county loses one of its best known and most respected citizens.  He wasa charter member of the Hesperia Grange and has been active in Grange work for many years.  He was also a member of the Masonic lodge and the Presbyterian church.  He was an active participant in politics and several times was his party's candidate for county office.  Of late he has been making his home in his son Archie. 
The funeral services will be held this afternoon at 2 o'clock from the Hesperia Presbyterian church, conducted by the pastor, Rev. M. Klerekoper.

I think the reason I chose this obituary is because, although he died well before my time, he feels like a neighbor.  I grew up in Oceana county, very near where he lived and just down the road from the farm of  his son Duncan.  Perhaps that was originally Neil's home.  
I also never realized that this area had so many Scots.  I guess the fact that Fremont had so many Dutch rather blinded me to the fact that nearby Hesperia had almost none. 

15 May 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--The Immigrant Hagens

 My hubby's family has the most recent immigrants of any I have been researching.  My own line traces back to the colonies for the most part, but his family came to the United States 1888.  The   microfilm of "Extractions from DECLARATIONS of INTENTION and/or NATURALIZATION RECORDS states that: "Petitioner renounced allegiance to the King of Prussia of whom he had been a subject."  The Hagen family stones are located in the Holton cemetery, just down the road from where we live. 
 Ludwig and Wilhelmine came to Michigan with their children Anna, Carl, Martha, Paul, Otto, and Frank.  The daughters moved, one to the Upper Peninsula, and one to Muskegon, and Frank to Wisconsin, the other three sons remained in the immediate area.  Their graves are located in the same cemetery, with Otto and Carl buried near the large family stone.  They have the same small but hefty stones, very like their parents individual stones.

 I recently learned that the original homestead of Ludwig and Wilhelmine is the small home and 80 acres located just down the road from where I currently live.  Previously my husband had called the farm of their son Paul the "home place."  That is another 80 acre farm that backed up to his fathers, and together the family farmed the 160 acre half section.
The one thing that made this family hard to research is the short period they lived here in Michigan.  Coming in 1888, they were only here for one federal census, the lamented 1890 census.  However, Ludwig was still alive for the 1894 Michigan state census. 
Sometimes you have to be happy with the small things.

12 May 2012

Obituary--Dr. George W. Nafe Part Two

As I mentioned in my previous post, Dr. Nafe's passing got not only lengthy post immediately after he passed away, but a week later, after the funeral, there was a wrap-up about that.  So without further ado.....
From the 5 March 1914 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Funeral Services for Dr. George W. Nafe Attended by Several Hundred Sorrowing Friends

The funeral services of the late Dr. George W. Nafe were held last Friday afternoon from the Methodist Episcopal church and were the most largely attended of any funeral services ever held in Fremont, with one possible exception.  Every available space in the church was occupied by sorrowing friends of the dead physician and several hundred people were unable to gain admittance to the church.
The body was brought to the church at 1:30 o'clock and lay in state until 2:30, at which time the services began.
Rev. J. F. Bowerman, pastor of the Methodist church, was in charge of the services, which were participated in by all the ministers of the city, Rev. J. H. Wilcox, of St. Johns, and Rev. Dr. John Graham, of Grand Rapids.
Rev. R. W. Paul, pastor of the Congregational church, representing the citizens in general, paid a fine tribute to the deceased physician, as did Rev. Bowerman, who spoke for the members of the Methodist church.
Mr. Wilcox, who was pastor of the local church 25 years ago, gave some reminiscences of the doctor which were splendid tributes to his character and worth as a citizen.  Mr. Wilcox came to a divided church here and leaned heavily upon the doctor during his pastorate in Fremont.
Dr. John Graham. of Grand Rapids, gave the closing address and pronounced ad splendid eulogy upon the life and character.  Dr. Graham and Dr. Nafe were close friends while the former was presiding elder of the Grand Rapids district.
The floral offerings were numerous and beautiful and literally decked the altar of the church where the casket rested.
The members of the Masonic order and the members of the medical society attended the services in a body.
Those from out of town who attended the services were : Dr. Le Fevre and Dr. Garber, of Muskegon; Dr. and Mrs. B. F. Black, Mr. and Mrs. Herman O'Connor and Mr. and Mrs. Herbert O'Connor, of Holton, Dr. J. C. Branch of White Cloud; Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Babcock, of Newaygo and Mr. and Mrs. James Sharp of Grant.

I think the heading of this final obituary notice says it all.  He seems to have been a very beloved citizen, and this seems to have indeed been a tribute to his life and character.    
R.I.P. Dr. Nafe.

10 May 2012

Obituary--Dr. George W. Nafe

While reading some of the older newspapers on microfilm, I become acquainted with various people by name.  Certain names keep recurring.  Mrs. Robertson, as my favorite obituary writer was one such person.  Various minister of the area also became familiar to me.  And the subject of today's obituary, Dr. Nafe was also a name mentioned frequently, both in the newspapers and other historical articles we have.  I was somewhat surprised that he died in 1914, as we didn't have many papers from before this date, but as a doctor, his name was one that appeared frequently.

From the 26 February 1914 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Prominent citizens Succumbs to Heart Failure in His Office
Death Closed a Life Which Had Been Devoted to Years of Sacrifice in the Practice of the Medical Profession

The death of Dr. George W. Nafe occurred at his office on South Division street about 7:30 o'clock Tuesday evening. The passing of the doctor was so sudden that the entire community was shocked.  Although he has been in poor health of late, his death, the result of heart failure, was unexpected.
Dr. Nafe returned to his office after supper Tuesday evening, as was his custom, and had evidently just attended to his fire.  While passing Dr. Nafe's office, Dr. George G. Burns saw the physician sitting in a chair with his head thrown back.  Fearing that Dr. Nafe might be ill, Dr. Burns entered the office and found that life was already extinct.  Death had evidently occurred but a few minutes before.
George W. Nafe was one of Fremont's most beloved citizens.  His passing is an irretrievable loss to the community.  To leave this earth with universal expressions of genuine sorrow upon the lips of the entire community is the splendid tribute that is being paid to the deceased physician.  His was the mantle of untarnished character and sterling worth if not of great deeds and momentous accomplishments.  His devotion to duty will be a cherished memory to all who knew him.
The sacrifices he made in attending the sick when his own health was imperiled attest an unswerving devotion to his duty as a physician which was constant through the long years of his practice.
The doctor's generosity and tender heartedness were his chief faults.  Had he collected his fees as they fell due he would probably have died a wealthy man.  But this was not his ambition.  He was content with his lot.
Dr. Nafe has been prominently identified with the work of the Methodist Episcopal church in this city and his wise counsel and sound judgment have always been sought upon all questions of import pertaining to church work.  He devoted much of his time and gave liberally to the support of the Methodist denomination and his death will be a severe blow to the members of the local church.
The doctor was a stanch Democrat in politics but he was not a bigot.  His party's candidate was often sacrificed in the booth for a friend upon the opposing ticket.  Up to and including the campaign of 1900 he was an energetic and forceful participant in party activities and one of Democracy's ablest speakers upon the stump.  Although no so active in recent years his interest in politics did not wane.
Dr. Nave was a member of the state board of registration in medicine, an honor which came to him last summer from Governor Ferris unsolicited.  He was also a member of the board of United States pension examiners.  He had served the state eclectic medical society as president of the organization.  He was also a member of the Masonic order and of the Modern Maccabees.
The following biographical sketch is taken from the Newaygo County Biographical Album published in 1884.
"George W. Nafe, M. D., is a son of John and Mary M. (Stewart) Nafe, natives of Maryland and Pennsylvania, respectively, and was born in Ohio June 19, 1848.  He lived with his parents until about 22 years of age, attending the common schools, and afterward the high school at Rochester, Ind.  He early gave his attention to the study of medicine, and attended the Pennsylvania University, at Philadelphia. Pa., two years and was graduated in 1871.  He has previously studied in the office of Dr. Hector at Rochester, Ind.  Upon leaving college he commenced the practice of his profession in Cass county, Ind., where he remained six and a half years.  In the summer of 1877 he came to Fremont, where he has since followed his profession with gratifying success.
"Dr. Nafe has held the office of village trustee three years, president of the village two years, member of the school board four years and director two years.  In the fall of 1882 he was the democratic candidate for representative, but was defeated by Charles W. Stone, the Greenback candidate, who had the plurality, but less than 100 votes.  He is a member of the Fremont Lodge, 741, K. of H., and in politics a democrat.
"The doctor was married in Rochester, Ind., April 6, 1872, to Cordelia, daughter of Christopher and Julia A. Ernsperger, who was born in Ohio, August 15, 1847.  They have had three children: John C., born March 13, 1875; Julia M., born April 2, 1881; Nellie L., born January 9, 1873, died June 24, 1883."
Besides the widow Dr. Nafe is survived by a daughter, Mrs. E. W. Boyer, of Muskegon; a son, John C. Nafe, of Detroit, and three brothers as follows: James, of Rochester, Ind., Jonathan, of Chicago, and David, who resides in Florida.
The funeral services will be held Friday afternoon at 2:00 o'clock from the Methodist church.

Whew!  And after all that in the paper just after he passed away, the next week there was a followup about his funeral.  I'll save that for next time.  
As is often the case with these older obituaries, especially with the more prominent citizens, a lot of attention is paid to the politics of the deceased.  "But, he was not a bigot."

08 May 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--The Vandalized

There is nothing that quite grabs at my heart as the sight of a toppled tombstone. 
This was recalled to me recently with the news that vandals had struck a large  cemetery in a nearby city.  (These pictures are from another cemetery, St. Mary's here in Newaygo County that I mentioned in the past.) 
While I realize that not everyone enjoys tramping around in cemeteries, trying to imagine the stories behind those stones, I still find it hard to understand the desecration.   Stones represent real people.  They mark the resting place of someone's grandparents, siblings, children.  There is a sacredness and a peacefulness found in cemeteries.
I could get on my editorial soapbox, decrying the lack of respect in some people.  I could say they are selfish, uncaring, ignorant.selfish, uncaring, ignorant. 
But instead, I will be thankful that there are people who are selfless, caring and respectful enough to at least attempt to restore these broken and forgotten stones.

03 May 2012

Obituaries--Fred Matthews

One of the many things I like about living in a rural community is the consistency.  Our township has several centennial farms, and others that are close.  Those families that do not have centennial farms, have none the less been living in the same community for many years.  My husband's family, while having family farm, nevertheless settled less than a half mile from my current home.  The original immigrant family lived just down the road.  Their one son, my husband's grandfather had a farm a mile from his parents, across the section.  And my in-laws, Hubby's parents lived a half mile in the opposite direction down the road. 
That all said, today's obituary is about a similar family.  Their name is found on many of our historical plat books, usually in my township, or the one bordering ours to the south. Mr. Matthews story, as told in the obituary is a typical story of many of our local ancestors. 

From the 27 November 1918 Fremont Times Indicator:

Fred Matthews, Who Died at Sitka Nov. 17, Came to this Section in 1861
Fred Matthews was born in St. Barthelemy, Canada, Province of Quebec, October 30, 1835.  Remaining at home until the age of seventeen, he and a friend three years his senior set out for Chicago by way of the canal, Mr. Matthews having fifteen dollars for traveling expenses.  But at the second lock his friend's courage failed him and he returned home.  Under trying difficulties, unable to speak the English language and alone, without friend or relative, Mr. Matthews met a fellow countryman at the docks of Chicago who took him home as his guest for three days until he found employment.  He remained in Chicago one year, going from there to the pineries in Wisconsin where he worked for two years, becoming a skilled worker in wood.
From Wisconsin he came to Muskegon to visit a brother and while he was there he was associated with the George Arms Lumber Co. for several years.  In 1861 he preempted 160 acres of land near Sitka.  Out of this wilderness of forest without road or path, save the trail of the Indians he set about the task of wrestling a farm home from the wilds.
He was married in 1872 at Muskegon to Laura L. Lee, bringing his young bride to his farm home.  To this union were born six children, tow of whom, with the widow, survive him, a daughter, Mrs. Mae Crawford, of Fremont and son, George, of Sitka, also six grandchildren.
Mr. Matthews was always an active worker in all social and civic enterprises, taking an active part in the erection of the Sitka church.  A highly respected citizen, a devoted husband and father and a good neighbor, he leaves a host of friends to mourn his death.  Mr. Matthews died on Nov. 17, 1918, at the age of 83 years and 18 days, after a long and painful illness of stomach trouble.
The funeral services were held at the residence Nov. 19 at 10:30 conducted by the pastor, Rev. H. H. Wliey of Holton, and the body was laid to rest on a southern slope in the beautiful Oak Grove cemetery at Fremont.

This obituary does raise a some thoughts.  You can't trust everything you read in obituaries.  First, the cemetery in Fremont, is Maple Grove, not Oak Grove, and the slopes there face north, not south.  The cemetery in Holton, where many nearby citizens were buried is named Oakwood cemetery--close but not a match. A transcript of that cemetery shows several Mathews (one t) including a Freddy and one other Matthews (Erne H.).  There is another Oak Grove cemetery in Newaygo county, but clear across the county--not likely.  So where is he?  A bit more digging in a rough index to Maple Grove cemetery in Fremont, yields not one but two Frederick Matthews.  And a Laural, which could be his wife, Laura L.  Bingo. 
Even if you cannot always trust everything you read in these old (and new) obituaries, they do make for great reading.

01 May 2012

Tombstone Tuesday--Elizabeth and Sara Jane

 One of my favorite family cemeteries is the one where my first "discovered" ancestor is.  GGGrandpa Armenus was the first family member I found on my own, since my aunt and cousin had don't a great deal of research on my fathers side.  Armenus is my mother's father's father's father.
In the same cemetery, is the family my GGrandma and her ancestors.  GGrandma Ada was the first wife who died earlier and GGrandpa Roy married her sister Delia, whose son was the Davis/Gilbert soldier I posted about a short while ago.  She was one of the Samis children.
The cemetery in question is in Chase township, Lake county, Michigan.  The family stone is an impressive monument, resembling a stack of logs, with a scroll falling down the front.  If only someone in the family had taken the time and money to inscribe it with the family names and dates.
 Sarah Jane Smith Samis was originally the daughter of Elizabeth and Levi Smith.  And Elizabeth Cunningham Smith was the granddaughter of my favorite ancestor: 5th GreatGrandmother Mary Sitts Nelles Cunningham Johnson.  (More on her another time.)
The original stone of Elizabeth and Levi was one that had more or less worn away.  But this replacement stone was installed in 2006 by some of my cousins.  It is so nice that descendants care enough to keep the memories and resting places of their ancestors visible.
 Over one hundred years after her death, Elizabeth's memory lives on.