“At the end of the fight is a tombstone,
white with the name of the deceased…”
In Meredith, Michigan lies a cemetery, or more correctly, a former cemetery. Like the town itself, little remains to mark what once may have been the burying ground for those whose lives ended in this town in the northeast corner of Clare County.
Meredith was once home to nearly 2,000 people and sported a three-story school, an opera house, a roundhouse for the numerous trains that rolled into town and saloons to help slake the thirst of the lumberjacks that came to the area in the mid- to late-1880s to cut the massive pines that once grew here. Now, Meredith is home to perhaps 300 hardy souls who enjoy the solitude this town offers.
For nearly 20 years this town prospered, grew and was the home of not only lumberjacks but storekeepers, laborers, and railroad men and their families.It prospered. But once the lumber was cut, the jobs, like the trees that brought people to this north woods town, disappeared.
And so did the people. They too left to find new jobs, taking with them memories and leaving behind the graves of loved ones like Edna Ross, who died in 1885 at the age of 10 and was buried in one of two local cemeteries.
Now, Edna’s stone is one of two that can be seen in one of those cemeteries. The other visible tombstone lies some 40 paces away and belongs to a Ebbie Coffill, age unknown. Between the stones, trees grow and weeds flourish over ground where families and friends once mourned the passing of loved ones.
Rumor has it that stones that once marked many of the other graves. Unmarked stones the size of pillows that the families picked out to mark the site where their loved ones would lies for all eternity or until the resurrection, while they, the living, would moved on in search of jobs and better lives.
Did they know that someday, the cemetery would fall into private hands and that a the future landowner would sell those stones to a landscaper and placed as an attractive marker in someone’s yard? That someday, no one would ever know that a mother, father, son or daughter was buried under that spot. That nothing would be left to mark their passing or no one remember their lives.
How many cemeteries are there like that in Clare county? Or in Michigan? No one knows. And they may always remain hidden unless a shovel or a piece of excavating equipment disturbs them as the living go about their lives.
Although the fact the cemetery is gone may be sad for us the living, the fact the cemetery is gone may not matter to the dead. They are gone from this world and may not care. And if they don’t, should we?
Ive seen a few old cemetaries in Clare county.In many,there are a few stones with the rectangular indention behind it of a grave sunken in when the old pine box rotted and caved in.Then when you get an eye for those sunken graves you start to find them all facing the same way,in some cemetaries they are all over the place.a few headstones but many,many graves and in those cemetaries at least,the case is that only those who could afford,or their children could afford a stone,got one.The rest got the old wooden cross with information carved or painted onto it.The majority that is.The cross later went the way of their pine box ,which created the tell-tale impressions in the ground,the only lasting symbol of their final resting place.Is Meredith the same case?The lumberjacks wouldnt have had stones,only the relatively well off for those days.Can you give exact directions to the cemetary? Would love to find it.Thanks
Thanks for the info. I am new to this and don’t have the “eye” for noticing things like this. I’m finally starting to notice old railroad beds or foundations when I stumble across them on my walks but I’m still a rookie there too.
As to the Meredith cemetery, it’s on private land and I was taken there by a local who I met through the owner of the general store at the north end of town. I believe to get to the cemetery we went past the township hall in town (sorry I don’t remember the exact directions). That road led to a private road and the tombstone we saw and the cemetery was not too far down that private road. Although the cemetery is on private land it’s quite a ways from anyone’s home and from what I remember, one could get out and walk to the cemetery and back to the car in a minute. Sorry I can’t be of more help.
Thanks for the directions..there is also Garritys cemetary where those deemed unfit for burial in Meredith got sent.Usually the roughest of the lumberjacks,murderers,thieves or less than desirables as judged by the community. The chant on the way to burial was “Ashes to ashes,dust to dust,if meredith wont take him,Garrity must.” Hamilton twp.,arnold Lake rd. then Trout ave. south,straight up the hill on the dirt ,dont follow pavement to the right. On the left at top of the hill.