Thursday, January 21, 2010

Indian Burial Mounds

Sorry I haven't written lately I have had computer issues at work and at home.

As I have said I would write about Native American Burial mounds in Newaygo County. There isn't a week that goes by that we don't get a patron coming in or calling about them in the area. They want to know if they could be on their land, where they are located, If you dig them up what would you find?

I have a tendency to get on my soap box on this subject. Some day I will have a Patron get upset with me but I feel it is wrong to dig these up or show disrespect for any reason. It is sacrilegious to dig them up or in anyway deface them.

Newaygo County has 234 lakes and 356 miles of rivers and streams that has a rich history along their shores of Native American villages, hunting and fishing grounds. Many of the mounds are also in the woodlands and prairies in the county. There were literally thousands but sadly the numbers are shrinking every year. I do have to give credit to Consumer's Energy Company here in the county that actually have fenced in several mounds and protect them along a river bank.

I am unsure what we can do about saving them. I have worked with the Native American Council a few years ago to research, count and preserve some mounds that was "in the way" of development. Fortunately we preserved them but for how long? The council did open a couple up with a blessing from a shaman and was re buried with the proper prayers and respect. They did not allow anyone there except Native American Shamans and the researchers from the Council who were all of Native American blood. They did share the information that there were signs of shells, bones and not much else. So please people realize this is someones ancestor! Would you like it if someone dug up your ancestors out of curiosity? Your not going to gain great riches or find artifacts for your mantle. Let the dead remain buried where they are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Burial of Poor

The complaints against government are nothing new. This letter to the editor, taken from the 10 November 1927 Fremont Times Indicator, by a local funeral director, shows that while the amounts may have changed, the pinch to the pocketbook is still there. Warning--this is a long post.



Editor Times Indicator:
Having heard much controversy lately in regards to Newaygo county's part in the expense incident to the burial of indigent Civil war veterans and the county poor, I take it that at its recent session the board of supervisors did not take into consideration the actual cost of either. Perhaps it was not explained to them and I therefore write this in a spirit of friendly helpfulness, as the system certainly should be changed, there being but few veterans left in the county.

In the matter of soldier's burial, Newaygo county allows $55.00, Muskegon $75.00 and Kent county $100.00, this allowance being fixed by the supervisors. Why so low in Newaygo county? I will illustrate with the case of a veteran who died in Grant township, this county. I went to the place where he died and cared for the body. Owing to conditions, it was necessary to embalm, using $2.oo worth of fluid. I paid $2.00 for an auto to take me there and I found the house in such condition that I had to go back and bring the body to Grant, at a cost of $2.50. There was no clothing of his that could be used for burial purposes. I took my coat, shirt, collar and tie and put them on him, but did not have any pants to spare at the time. When I meet this partly naked soldier in the next world he will probably ask me why I sent him on the long journey with no pants and I will have to tel him that he died in Newaygo county, where the allowance made by the board of supervisors was not sufficient to buy a pair. If I had used a burial robe, the cost would have been $6.50 more. A casket would cost $38.00 and outer box $7.50, at wholesale prices. Certainly nothing less should be used for a veteran. Cost of hearse and driver, $6.00, ($5.00 of which goes to the driver), and one dollar for taking the box to cemetery. The township generally pays for opening graves. This leaves no compensation for minister or funeral director.

Probably some will say that a veteran who draws a pension should save enough to provide for a decent burial. The one I have mentioned cared for or supported three grandchildren as well as himself entirely out of his pension.

Thus it will be seen that even the cheapest burial figures $66.00 at cost and there are conditions which necessitate a greater amount. The statute allows $75.00. Why not pay it?

Now I will take the case of an inmate of the county home, who at one time lived in Ashland. When he died, his mother, in poor circumstances, wished the body brought from the county home for burial in the family lot beside others of his family who had gone before. The Newaygo county allowance for a burial is $30.00 dollars, the figure being set by the board of supervisors. I got a body from the county home and it cost me $13.00 beside the cost of the casket and outer box, $26.75, bring the body from home to Ashland, $5.00 for embalming fluid, $200, taking box to cemetery, $1.00, hearse and driver $6.00, making a total of $40.75--leaving nothing for minster or funeral director.

I believe if all taxpayers would talk this matter over with their supervisors, the latter would look at the matter in a different light. Some would blame the county home inmates for being there, but I can not look at it that way. They are there and why not give them a fair burial, or at least pay the actual cost. Why should any funeral director of Newaygo county have to stand a part of the expense of burying indigent veterans and county poor charges, instead of having a reasonable compensation for his services?

I would like to see the citizens of the county take an interest in this matter.
A___ J M________
Funeral Director,
Grant Michigan.

Apparently either the county gave in and paid more, or they had less poor to bury. The same funeral home is still functioning today, proudly run by the same family.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Cemetery Visit

My father died in 2006, the day after Christmas. Ironically the same day as a distant cousin you may have heard of, President Gerald Ford.
This is not my parents' gravestone, although it is for a more distant family member. It is located in Alton Cemetery, a little bit north of Lowell, in Kent County MI.

This is a story about a road trip I took with Dad and his last two sisters, the summer before he died. He was weak even then, but wanted to take this trip. Aunt Glenna and I are always up for cemetery hopping, and we even managed to drag Aunt Joycie along.
It was a fairly long day, and by the time we got to this cemetery, Dad was rather tired and stayed in the car. The Aunts and I roamed the cemetery and showed me some of our family stones. There are lots of names from the family tree here. Ford. Condon, Aldrich, Barto. The nearest relatives are my great grandparents, Omar and Carrie. (Why, oh why do I have so many family stones that are flush with the ground?)
They are part of the tangles found in every family tree. Carrie was my paternal grandmothers mother. She is buried with her second husband, Omar. He is my paternal grandfather's father.
They were part of the reason Dad wanted to make the trip.
Above is Carrie's mother and one of my Fords. That is another twisty branch. Below is the stone of Edna's parents. Her mother Fanny's name is on the side to the left of this, facing south if I remember right. Both have the clasped hands emblem. Her dad's side, shown here, shows my favorite family name: Barlo Barto.
Even though he wasn't able to wander the cemetery, my dad did enjoy making the tiring trip. A farwell to his grandparents and beyond perhaps, but also a chance to pass along the family to me.
Thanks Dad.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What if?

I had a interesting patron come in to the library this morning very happy that she had finished recording a small cemetery by her family home in another state this past summer. She is now realizing the oops she made she didn't record them by lot numbers and has no photos. There were many stones that were crumbling, handmade stones falling apart, hard to read stones but may were unique. My question to her is what if? What if something happens before she gets back to photograph them? vandals, weather, clearing of the land so many things effect these stones and in the course of one year you never know what is going to happen. What if you can't get back to the cemetery and it is two or three years? I always tell people when given the opportunity to always get a picture don't wait until tomorrow. Maybe it is because I am married to photographer but more likely because I learned the hard way and didn't listen to my own words. Now I even resort to sketching the stone if I can't get a good photo of it. Always try to get a image never wait until tomorrow. What is that old saying Grandma use to say "do it today we never know what tomorrow will hold".