Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An Evening Romp Through Quaker Cemetery

I have a fascination with cemeteries because of the history of the dead laid to rest in them and their peaceful atmosphere. A friend and I went to this little hidden gem of a cemetery yesterday in eastern Barry County Michigan, only a few miles south of where we live, located in Maple Grove TWP on a dirt back road. It's easy to miss it if you don't know where to look for the drive, partially hidden behind wild shrubbery and grasses, looking every bit like a private drive. The drive is a two-track that goes up a steep hill, full of ruts from the heavy rain we've had lately here washing out parts of the drive, and on either side wild growth trimmed just enough to not scratch up your car too badly. However, not all the tree and shrub branches are cut back far enough to avoid scratches, so taking a car you wouldn't want scratched would be a good idea, or leave the car parked at the bottom of the hill off to the side of the road and walk.

Entry of the cemetery. No signs to let you know there's even a cemetery here.

View of drive going toward the cemetery.
View of drive from atop the hill.

Perhaps driving the Cadillac up there wasn't a good idea.

Once you reach the top, the drive ends in a tiny little parking area big enough for maybe three vehicles. The cemetery sits on a sandy hill surrounded by woods, a swamp, and someone's property to the south. There are several very old maple trees growing there, from their looks I would guess they had been there as long, or almost as long, as the cemetery. At first I thought they were oaks since I had never seen maples as huge as these before, but their leaves gave their identity away. The headstones here are sparse, according to records there are only 61 known persons buried, most of them during the 19th century with a few buried in the early 20th century, but is still maintained by the township. The headstones on most are hard to read, worn from the weather and time. As the name implies, those of the Quaker faith were buried here and the motifs used on many of the headstones imply such.

There's a sign as you enter the cemetery that tells you a little about the place and the history of the area, and I do mean little. The first settlers in the area were Quakers, and once they had disappeared, so too did most of the remnants that they had even settled here, except the cemetery and the brook named after them, Quaker Brook. At least, that's what I gathered by the sign. I hadn't done any research on the place, but after my visit my curiosity is perked, and I may do some more.

Perhaps what is best know of this cemetery with the locals is that it's supposedly haunted. I think that goes for any cemetery, but there have been stories of lights in the cemetery after dark, or of a man with a shot gun at the top of the hill if you drive up it after dark with the car lights off, or other men wandering the cemetery or some other nonsense. Apparently one is supposed to get a sinking, sick feeling when they enter, but my friend and I only experienced joy and amazement when entering this little place. In fact, the whole day up until we went there my stomach had not been feeling well, but afterward I started feeling better. So, take what you make of that. But then, after I uploaded the pictures onto my computer, I noticed this picture:

Those are tree shadows upon that headstone shaped like a human figure. Creepy! But other than that, neither of us experienced anything out of the normal with the place. Perhaps a drive to the cemetery at night is in order? Hmmm...

Our stay there wasn't very long. After several snapshots of the headstones, landscape, and the big old trees, we headed back home. I would like to go back there again, but next time with paper and charcoal and rub some of the headstones to see if they can be read that way. It's sad that many were broken, but at least they are still mostly there. A few were repaired as best as they could be, others are so worn that they are unreadable. Since I have way too many pictures to share on this post, here's a link to my Photobucket album that you may browse through: Quaker Cemetery.

A Revolutionary War soldier, Sergeant John Quick.

He was a soldier of the revolution
Under General Washington cms(?) at valley forge
Inst(?) at the battle of trenton.

Enjoy the pictures, and if you are ever in the area, stop by and take a walk through this little piece of history.


Diane Carlisle said...

Oooo, I love cemeteries, too. I'm working on a website which is a bit darker than my normal personality, but it will be where I post much of my ghost stories and darker mood stuff.

They can be creepy, but with the right mindset, they are beautiful and elegant. :)

K.E. Skedgell said...

Your new website sounds like it's right up my alley. Let us know when it's up!

Rose Hines said...

Nice pictures of the old Quaker Cemetary. I am the 4th Great Granddaughter of John Quick. He was the ancestor that made it possible for my sister & I to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. My nieces have joined, and my nephew is a SAR member. The man nor his service to this country have been forgotten. We are hoping that the next generation of our family will find the same pride that my sister & I have found in being a descendant of someone who helped shape the future of this great nation. Thank you for posting his tombstone. We are grateful to the SAR for repairing his tombstone. The inscription reads: He was a soldier of the American Revolution under Gen. George Washington. Was at Valley Forge and at the Battle of Trenton.

K.E. Skedgell said...

Thank you, Rose, for commenting! I'm glad you liked my post and I'm glad you could share what the description on the tombstone says.