Locals describe historical figures buried at Coleman Cemetery

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Local historical figures were brought to life on the Civil War Veterans Tour of Warren Township Cemetery in Coleman.

The tour, hosted by the Midland County and Coleman County Historical Societies, brought together county residents to hear stories from the past from local actors who portrayed Coleman’s Civil War veterans.

Floyd Andrick, who is on the board of directors of the Midland County Historical Society, began the tour under a tree that had started as a sapling up to 150 years ago – the period to which tour guides have narrowed it down the participants.

Andrick has cleaned around 200 headstones from Civil War veterans cemeteries in Midland County so far this year. Of the 40 known Civil War veterans buried in the Warren Township Cemetery, 33 of their headstones have been located and cleared. Five of them were featured on the tour.

Andrick’s goal is to clear the 354 headstones of Civil War veterans in Midland County.


Andrick said the Civil War had interested him for most of his life, as 13 of his ancestors were in the war; all of them survived the war.

His passion was evident as he arrived early to ensure that the five Civil War veterans highlighted on the tour had new American flags next to their graves. He wore a Union Civil War uniform throughout the tour.

Abram Van Voltenburg

Alma’s Richard Tesman – who is a member of the Coleman Historical Society – provided his own research and history on his great-grandfather and Civil War veteran, Abram VanVoltenburg.

Tesman said VanVoltenburg lied about his birthplace when he enlisted in the military. Tesman and his family initially believed he was from California, but VanVoltenburg was actually a native of Canada.

“I was born in Canada, Middleton Township, Norfolk County, Ontario, October 18, 1838. When I got old enough to leave home, I traveled west across Canada. and entered Michigan into St. Clair County, ”Tesman said, describing his ancestor. “This is where I was when your Civil War broke out in April 1861. It seemed like a good cause and an interesting adventure, so I decided to enlist.

“To do this, I had traveled south of the county to Memphis,” he continued. “There on August 12, 1861, I met a recruiting agent. He described me as a lumberjack, standing, five feet nine inches tall, with black hair, blue eyes, and a dark complexion. I told him, I’m 22 and I was born in San Francisco, California. This little lie became a myth that was perpetuated by my family for a few generations, until a great-grandson finally discovered my true birthplace decades later.

Seth bowdish

Jake Huss, director of historical programs and exhibits at the Midland County Historical Society, described Seth Bowdish: “A man of service, at your service.

Bowdish was born in New York City in 1825 and moved to Michigan before the Civil War. This is the state in which he enlisted in the war. In 1861, he enlisted on August 23.

He served until 1865 when he was recruited, prompting his return to Michigan. He married a woman named Lucy in 1881.

A few miles northwest of Coleman in Loomis, Isabella County, Bowdish was the postmaster.

“In 1882, I was setting up a grocery store in town,” Huss said during a lively performance of Bowdish. “That same year I found myself a partner and TV / B Simmons, some of you may have heard his name already, I let him redeem me in 1884. Then I set up a rival grocery store the same year.

“Here’s the real thing: I asked the city to move the post office from my old partner’s store to my store. Let me tell you, folks, Benjamin Franklin was wrong. Three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and mail. Everyone in town had to go through my store. But that’s just another way I’ve been happy to serve the people here in the great town of Coleman.

Huss said Bowdish was a school board member and chairman of the county’s Soldier Relief Fund to help local soldiers.

Della Pierce, daughter of Civil War veteran Jonathan Pierce

Pam Dashner portrayed Della Pierce, Coleman’s first teacher, on the tour. Pierce was the daughter of Civil War veteran Jonathan Pierce.

After the Civil War, Jonathan returned to New York to work in the lumber industry. In 1869 his wife was pregnant when he announced that the family was moving to Midland. They waited for the birth of one of their daughters in 1870.

As Della, Dashner said a rumor had started about the Pere Marquette Railroad Company. His father, Jonathan, advocated for the tracks to be incorporated into Coleman.

“My dad was on the very first train that came here,” Dashner told tour participants. “He came down to find out what he wanted to do. Everything was in favor of what he had planned, so he bought a property and became Coleman’s first citizen, and he immediately started working on his sawmill and exchange hotel, which would also be our home. In 1871, just in time for the holidays, we moved in.

He accommodated men who worked on the railroad and his wife prepared meals for the railroad workers.

Jonathan died in 1898, just 10 days before what would have been his 77th birthday from complications from polio. His entire family, with the exception of one member, is buried in Coleman Cemetery.

Harrison sampson

Bill Campbell portrayed Harrison Sampson, a potter and farmer. After serving in the Civil War, Harrison Sampson returned to Pennsylvania, where he had lived before the war.

Sampson, who was born in Ohio, eventually found his way to Michigan after marrying his wife in 1865.

In 1900, his family moved to Midland County.

“I continued to work as a potter and farmer with my grown children,” said Campbell, as Sampson, adding that his wife and some of their grown children died a few years later. “I was still a lively young man at 70, still able to work. I moved in with my son Harry and his family to bond. I spent the rest of my life playing with my grandchildren and breathing the wonderful Michigan air.

Sampson died in 1915.

Nina Brown, a granddaughter of Civil War veteran Isaac Carrick

Anastasia Breen, a high school student from the Bay City area, played Nina Brown, the granddaughter of Civil War veteran Isaac Carrick.

The Brown family has a long history at Coleman. Carrick moved to Coleman in 1906 when he was about 70 years old.

In 1861, Carrick had married Brown’s grandmother and they had two children during the Civil War. He joined the war in 1864.

He was released on disability after falling ill the following year.

“But, he was able to make a good ‘Bony Clapper’, which is German slang for cottage cheese,” Breen said as her granddaughter. “Family legend even says that grandfather was nicknamed Bony Clapper Ick.”

“We had a good 14 years as a grandfather until he died of a sudden heart attack in the kitchen,” she continued. “My mother always said that Grandpa went to war (like) a young boy and came back (like) an old man. I would just like to thank this old man for his service.

Breen herself is an actress at the Midland Center for the Arts. She also works in high school programs.

“Coming here and using the game in a historical sense by telling the story of the real story is really interesting,” she said, adding that actors her age usually have a limited range of opportunities to play. exercise and display their skills.

Al Selesky from the Coleman Historical Society also shared stories about the Civil War cannon stationed in Coleman Park.

Tours sold out early between registration and tours. The Midland County Historical Society said they were pleased with the participation.

Proceeds from the Warren Township Cemetery tour will be distributed between the Midland and Coleman Historical Societies.

The Coleman Historical Society plans to renovate the city’s oldest commercial building and turn it into a museum with the funds.

Historical societies are still working to find and clean the tombstones of Civil War veterans in the weeks to come.

Warren Township Cemetery opened in 1883. According to Andrick, the first known Civil War veteran to be buried there was Silas May, who was a wartime medic and died at the age of 63. in 1896. And the last known Civil War veteran to be laid to rest in the cemetery was Levi Klinger in 1934 at the age of 90.

The Midland County Historical Society has been organizing cemetery tours in Midland for over 20 years. This year, staff decided to partner with the Coleman Historical Society and the Township of Edenville to shed light on other areas of the county and its history. Friday’s Coleman Tour kicked off that effort.

The Old Edenville Cemetery Tour will take place from 1 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. on Saturday, October 16 at 455 West Curtis Road.

Tickets cost $ 8 for the public and $ 5 for members.

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