2008-08-09 / Top News

Residents Asked To Reserve Family Burial Plots Now

Space Limited in Old Cemetery Sections
By Ryan Schlehuber

Record keeping of the City of Mackinac Island's two cemeteries is being reorganized. In the process, residents who may want to claim remaining burial plots in the older sections of the cemeteries are being urged by the city to make reservations now, since the space is limited.

The city's cemetery committee, headed by Councilman Armand "Smi" Horn and the mayor's assistant, Kelly Bean, are organizing the remaining plots in older, unsurveyed cemetery sections in Ste. Anne's Cemetery and the Mackinac Island Cemetery, commonly known as the Protestant cemetery. Both are on Garrison Road.

The cemeteries were developed in the 1850s, when the Borough of Mackinac Island closed both the Catholic and public cemeteries downtown.

With space becoming limited in the older sections of the cemeteries, the cemetery board is pressing those wanting to be buried next to their families there to plan now.

Both cemeteries are split up in two sections, older areas that have never been surveyed, and newer sections, where the board has an accurate layout of how many plots can be accommodated. The board determines who is allowed to be buried in the old sections of the cemeteries.

"A lot of the original family plots are full in the old sections," said Ms. Bean. "There's still room in the old section for people to be buried in the vicinity of their family, but people have to understand that it's a first come, first served system."

Ms. Bean is encouraging members of families with a long history on the Island to begin planning to reserve plots for each family member who wants one.

The city only sells three to four plots a year, said Ms. Bean.

Candy Smith, a member of the cemetery board, has already purchased a plot for herself, and two of her three children have one, as well. Their plots are in the older section of the Protestant cemetery, next to Mrs. Smith's husband, Bill, who died in 1996, and Sergeant William Marshall, who was the last enlisted soldier to serve at Fort Mackinac.

Mrs. Smith said her family is buried in all three of the Island's cemeteries, which includes the U.S. Post Cemetery, operated and maintained by Mackinac Island State Park Commission.

The first interments of Fort Mackinac soldiers and their families in the U.S. Post Cemetery took place during the 1820s.

There are 82 surveyed plots available in the new section of the Protestant cemetery and 52 in Ste. Anne's Cemetery. Both cemeteries have additional space that has yet to be surveyed.

Residents can purchase a four-foot by eight-foot cemetery plot for $300 and non-residents can buy one for $1,700. The city allows one casket, or two cremations, to be buried per plot, said board member Mr. Horn.

A $300 one-time perpetual care fee is also assessed and can be paid in advance or at the time of interment.

Residency is determined by the cemetery board, currently comprised of Mr. Horn, Clayton Timmons, Kathi Wightman, Candy Smith, and Dale Gallagher. The task is difficult, because some former residents have moved away but want to be buried here.

"If their family is buried here and the current generation moves off Island, they may still have the right to a residential plot," said Ms. Bean.

People who may have not been born on the Island or may not have family buried on the Island, but who have lived here and contributed to the community, could earn their way in, which was the case for one couple last fall.

Another challenge for the board is preventing people from moving corner markers on purchased plots in the old sections of the cemeteries.

"People were moving their markers, making their plot bigger than four-by-eight," said Mr. Horn. "We're still trying to straighten out older plots, and we've got it pretty well under control now."

Those who do plan to purchase multiple plots must reserve them for specific people now, said Ms. Bean.

"If you buy four, for example, you have to explain to us that it's for you, your husband, and for your two children," said Ms. Bean. "We're trying to avoid any kind of dispute that might happen later. We don't want to be faced with a situation down the road where family members are fighting over whose plots are whose."

Rite of burial certificates are combined with copies of receipts from those who have already paid for perpetual care. Reissuing certificates to people who need them is getting much easier, Ms. Bean said, as she continues to work further back into the records.

With the most recent records, she can now easily see who has paid in advance.

Wawashkamo Golf Club hosted a nine-hole mixed scramble Wednesday, July 23, with 48 players in attendance. Players enjoyed a cookout at the picnic grounds after the game.

President Steve Rilenge also hit the first hole-in-one this season while playing with four guests from Indianapolis Friday, July 25, on the fourth hole, which is 123 yards long.

The team of Rusty Preston, Terry Rayment, Mary Dufina, and Carole Erbel won the event with a score of 31. Each received $65 in credit at the Wawashkamo golf shop.

Cub Horn, Bob Gillespie, Debra Orr, and Janice Preston took second place by winning the chip-off with a score of 32. Team members received $45 in credit to the golf shop.

Two other teams scored 32, with Doug Rearick, Larry Berke, Mary Callewaert, and Alice Bloswick coming in third place, earning $35 in store credit and Sean Preston, Michelle Stuck, Cammie Hart, and Kelly Rayment in fourth, with $25 in credit.

Coming in last were Dick Gilles, Tony Spata, Sara Sutherland, and Syndee Borst. Each team member received $20 golf store credit.

In other contests on the course, Jeff Dupre was closest to the pin on hole 13, and Lin Sheppard was closest on hole 17. Garry Cousino, Lin Sheppard, and Loretta Spata were closest to the pin in three shots on hole 10.

The longest putt on hole 18 went to Doug Rearick.

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