Northern Michigan in Focus: Pioneer Cemetery Restoration

Most of us have heard the saying “out of sight, out of mind.”

That’s what happened to a cemetery in Osceola County until now.

“It’s really been in everybody’s mind for years,” said Adam Riggleman.

It’s just a small chunk of land on a small hill, just north of Evart, that looks like nothing more than a farmer’s field. But this land means something.

“We have an old cemetery that’s been forgotten and abused over the years,” said Adam.

It’s the Pioneer Cemetery in Hartwick Township.

It got shuffled to the back of people’s memories over time, but not anymore.

“We want to restore it and give peace back to the people, and restore the cemetery back to her respectable place,” explained Adam.

Adam Riggleman lives across the road from the cemetery. 07 29 20 Nmif Pioneer Cemet.mov

“What really started this is when the electric company was going to come through and trench through this area. We informed them that this is a cemetery and we didn’t think that that was too good of a deal to trench through it,” explained Adam. “So the electric company actually did good, and they put a halt on trenching through here and drilled underneath the whole cemetery.”

The story starts in 1873 when a woman named Lucy Hawkins donated the land for a cemetery.

“You don’t know if it’s two people or 20 people or 200 people, but we do believe it’s around 30 or 40 people, but we’re not for sure until we do more research and find out what we got,” said Adam.

They have found base stones. They’ve also found what looks like where some graves used to be due to the indentations in the ground, all forgotten, except for one single marker.

“Then a bunch of us doing more research on it and with a little girl up there by the road, from what we gather so far with our history lessons we’ve learned, that kind of sparked an interest in a lot of people. Let’s quit forgetting about it and let’s do something,” explained Adam.

Under a marker a little girl is buried. No one knows her name or why she died, but that is her resting place.

“Even if it’s just one person, even if it’s just possibly that little girl up by the road, I mean I think that’s more than enough for everybody in their hearts to do something. Not forget it and move on. Give the respect to the people that are buried in the ground. Let’s not forget about them,” said Adam.

To do that, Adam and his group could use your help.

“We are looking for help some more on the clean-up. Looking for anybody that knows any history about it,” explained Adam.

They’re looking for help finding where the grave sites actually are in the barren field.

“It would be awesome if we could find somebody with a GPR to come here and help us out. That’d be nice,” said Adam.

Because time gets us all eventually.

“We’re all going to end up in a place like this and, hopefully, 20 years down the line or a hundred years down the line, that people don’t forget about us and disrespect us. So that’s kind of our goal here is the give them respect and don’t forget about them.”

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus