[an error occurred while processing this directive]Cemeteriesof the City
"City of Grand Rapids" The History of Kent County,Grand Rapids: Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881.
The first regular cemetery was that in the 8thward, on the west side. It was fenced in by order of Rev. Andrew Vizoiskiin 1836, and continued to be a Catholic Indian burial place until 1853.In 1861 the ancient mound and graves were subjected to the plowshare andsoon disappeared.

The first cemetery in Grand Rapids (for white people) was on lands nearswhat is now the southwest corner of Cherry Street and Madison avenue, onJefferson's Morrison lot. Several burials were made there, among them thatof the first wife of Jonathan F. Chubb. Afterward the site of the presentFulton street cemetery was selected, and the remains moved to that location.Robert M. Barr and an Irishman named James Archibald assisted at the removal.

A man named Digby Baker, popularly known as "Big Baker," of powerfulbuild, a giant almost, while at work for Alvin Wansey, splitting rails,was suddenly taken sick and died. He was buried in that first cemeterya short time before the removal was determined upon. When his grave wasopened, "Jim" Archibald remarked that they would "have a lift for a stameinjin," and getting down at the end of the coffin postured himself fora tremendous effort, when lo! it came like a feather, with such ease asto nearly throw "Jim" against the opposite bank. The coffin was openedand found to contain � nothing! There were but two or three physiciansin town at that time, and the general opinion was that one of them hadan unusually large skeleton somewhere in his outfit.

Zenas Winsor's first wife, Darius Winsor's mother, and Doctor Platt'sdaughter were among the number interred there.

Fulton Street Cemetery � An indenturemade July 9, 1838, between James Ballard and Emeline Ballard and the Presidentand Trustees of the village of Grand Rapids, provided that the followingdescribed property should become property of the village in considerationof the payment of $300: A part of the northwest quarter or section 29,town 7 north, of range 11 west, beginning at the southwest corner of saidquarter section, and running north on the line between sections 29 and30, 40 rods from the place of beginning, then east at right angles withthis line 40 rods, west 24 rods, to the place of beginning, making in allsix acres of land, the same to be used and reserved expressly as a cemeteryfor the village of Grand Rapids, and one-third of which cemetery is tobe devoted to the exclusive use of the people called Roman Catholics, andthe said cemetery is to be fenced immediately, and forever kept in repairat the sole expense of the village.

This deed was executed before C. I. Walker, Notary Public, July 9, 1838,in the presence of Stephen Hinsdill and W. B. Starky, and a record of thesame made by Register Luther Beebe, Aug. 1. 1838. This property was conveyedby deed of warranty, dated March 23, 1836 from Geo. M. Mills to ChesterWalbridge, and he in turn made a conveyance to James Ballard, Feb. 2, 1838.On June 16, of that year, Geo. M. Mills sold his interest in the equalone-half part of the northwest quarter of section 29, to Ballard. In areport made to John T. Holmes, Solicitor for the city, in August 1852,he states, "That the city's title to the cemetery is sound, that the groundwas used a burial ground from about the time of the making of the 'KentPlat;' and although some of the bodies were removed, there yet remain manyof the early interments."

Additions have been made to the original plat, and improvement afterimprovement effected. Among the additions are blocks 7, 8 and 9, plattedfor Thomas D. and F. B. Gilbert, in September 1862, west of the old burialground, and blocks 10, 11, 12 and 13, of the same cemetery, July 1863.

The Catholic Cemetery (St. Andrews Cemetery), on Madisonavenue, near the northern limits of the city, is another large burial ground.A monument is erected there to the Rev. Andreas Vizoiski, bearing Latin,French, German and English inscriptions. This cemetery, like the others,is well located. The first Catholic cemetery on the east side, was withinthe gore formed by Cherry street and Lake avenue.

The Valley City Cemetery groundswere purchased by the city of Grand Rapids of G. B. Rathbun and Emily Rathbun,in February 1859. The cemetery was dedicated to the purpose of a city burialground, Dec. 17, 1860 by Mayor Martin L. Sweet, Clerk E. M. Doubleday andComptroller Nelson Robinson. The cemetery contains 40 acres. The firstinternment was made in 1859, but the grounds have been in city charge for12 or 15 years. Only have of the grounds have been platted, and improvementsare now being pushed rapidly forward. R. C. Luce is Cemetery Commissioner.No soldiers are buried here. Oak, Central, Crescent and Cedar avenues arethe principal drives. A drive called the "Tour" will encircle the cemeterywhen completed.

Among the finest monuments are those inscribed with the names of Richardson,Carpenter, Phelps, Nason, Kendall, Mangold and Smalley. The brick vault,near the Richardson monument, is the property of Melville, of California.The city vault is capable of holding 24 caskets. It is located near thenorthwest corner and is surrounded by many very fine burying sites.

Greenwood Cemetery, a tract of20 acres, was deeded to the city of Grand Rapids, Feb. 8, 1859, by Danieland Sophronia Bush, of Allegan county. It was dedicated as a city cemeteryby Mayor Sweet, Clerk E. M. Doubleday and Comptroller Robinson, Dec. 17,1860. It is located in Walker Township, northwest of the city limits. Onlya portion of it is under improvement. What is now devoted to cemetery purposesis laid out tastefully, and well cared for. A small, neat vault, locatedin the hollow near the center, is the property of the Stephenson family.Numerous monuments of granite and marble adorn many of the lots. The drivesare 24 feet wide, bordered by strips of lawn, eight feet in width. The"tour" is 1,575 feet long on each side, aggregating 6,300 round. Threemiles of beautiful driveways will form one of the features of the burialplace when completed. Fred Spath, a victim of the Alpena disaster, liesin this cemetery; above his remains is a neat monument.

Oak Hill Cemetery -- This new burialground comprises 40 acres of land near the southeastern limits of the city.The survey was made by Wright L. Coffinberry, from plans by his assistant,A. C. McKenzie. The plat shows 1,350 lots, averaging 16x32 feet. The centralavenue is 40 feet wide, the circular driveways 24 feet in width, and theroad round the entire property 20 feet wide. It is estimated that eachlot will give space to 16 graves, giving an aggregate capacity for theinterment of 21,600 persons. Extensive improvements are contemplated.

The Hebrew or Jewish Cemetery islocated in the southern portion of Oak Hill. It is surrounded with a neatpicket fence. 

Document Source: History of Kent County,Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881.
Location of Original: Los Angeles Public Library
Transcriber: Jennifer Godwin
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/chapman1881/cemeteries.html
Created: 11 May 1999[an error occurred while processing this directive]