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Pine Ridge Cemetery - Founded 1858 by Judge James Birney
South east corner of Ridge & Tuscola roads, Bay City, MI.

Comment: The property of Pine Ridge Cemetery was purchased from William Fitzhugh by Judge James Birney, and was originally known as "Birney Cemetery." It was Bay City's first formal cemetery replacing a "potters field" that was located between Saginaw and Washington, just south of Columbus. After Judge Birney's death in 1888, his daughter Sophia took over ownership of the cemetery. In about 1890 she sold a portion of south section to George Seaman, which was operated as Seaman Cemetery. Then in 1900 Sophia sold Pine Ridge to George W. Ames, he owned the cemetery until his death in 1931. Since then, the cemetery has been without an official owner. The sexton of the cemetery at that time was Charles C. Cuthbert who continued servicing the needs of the cemtery until his death in 1952. Since that time the cemetery has survived only through the efforts of various volunteer groups over the years.


Volunteers replacing worn Civl War headstone - 2010.

No local government body has been willing to secure this public place of historical and sacred importance, assuring it will survive so that future generations may respectfully recall the unique contributions of these pioneer ancesters and veterans to our community and country.

--Your involvement is the only hope for its preservation. {Learn More!}

-- Visit Friends of Pine Ridge Cemetery on [Facebook.]

__________

1860 Nov. - Source: Bay County Historical Society. (Added May, 2008)

The Bay City Times and Press - November 1, 1860
----------
PINE GROVE CEMETERY. -- We notice that the carpenters are now putting a fence around the cemetery lot, one mile east of town on the Plank road. It is soon to be laid out in lots, and improved with tasteful walks, setting out of trees &e. It is of convenient distance, and will be approached at all times by a good road.
Notes:
  • Why the paper referred to the cemetery as "Pine Grove Grove" is unknown.
  • Plank road is now the Tuscola Road.

    1861 May - Unauthorized burials. (Added December 2006)

    Bay City Press and Times - May 9, 1861

    A MISTAKE.
    _____________________

    About a mile from this village on the north side of the plank road there is a lot cleared off and intended for a private burying grounds. As we are informed it is exclusively private property. Strangers have no more authority to use it, than they have to appropriate the garden spot of any man in town. -- But we are told that some two or three persons unknown, under the impression perhaps that it was a public buring ground, deposited bodies within the enclosure. Before the privilege of burial is offered to the public, the grounds will necessarily have to be laid off into streets, alleys, and lots, marked, numbered and a map made of the whole. The place has already cost several hundred dollars, and as many more will have to be expended upon it before it is ready for use. It has so happened that the persons who have thus summarily appropriated the ground without leave have made interments on the exact line of the intended Streets. This will necessarily involve removal, and we wouild advise such persons to report themselves, so that the matter can be attended to satisfactorily and properly.

    Note:
  • "Old plank road," is Tuscola Road today.

    1868-9 Directory. (Added Jun. 2009)

    Directory of Bay City, Portsmouth, Wenona & Bangor, 1868-9

    PINE RIDGE CEMETERY.
    _______

    This retired and quiet rest place of those who once took part in life's busy scienes, and who, though dead, yet live in the memories and hearts of the mourners, is beautifully situated at the head of Twelfth street, on the Bay City and Tuscola plank road. It is an encloser of five acres which was set apart for the purpose by Mr. James Birney, the propritor, on the occassion of the death of a younger brother, to whom he was much attached. The soil is well adapted to the purpose for for which it is used -- being light, easily dug at all seasons, and requiring little draining. When mixed with a mold which is procurable in the vicinity, it is very farvorable for the growth of plants such as are generally chosen to adorn and beautify the places of the dead. The ground is laid out tastefully in a variety of shapes, and the divisions names appropriately after choice fruits and flowers. The Proprietor has expended a good deal in fencing and otherwise improving the place, and has lately erected a handsome iron gate and stone gateway at the entrance, and the friends of its dead cannot fail to appreciate the efforts that are being made to make the place somewhat attractive to the living when they visit it from to time.

    1875 - history. (Added May, 2010)

    History of Bay County, Michigan (1875)

    CEMETERIES.
    _______

    Pine Ridge Cemetery was laid out by Hon. James Birney. It is well located on the Tuscola plank road, near the city limits, and the grounds are sufficiently extensive and have been considerably improved. There are several private vaults and monuments of more than ordinary excellence and execution.

    The Catholic Cemetery is located south of Pine Ridge, and has ample grounds, well kept.


    Pine Ridge - 1880s.

    1882-82 Directory. (Added Jun. 2008)

    Pine Ridge Cemetery -- East side of Tuscola Plank Road, opposite east end of Twelfth street. Hon. James Birney, proprietor. Office, Chronicle Building, Water street. George D. Seaman, sexton; resides in cemetery.
    Note:
  • Directory also lists George D. Seaman as sexton at Green Ridge cemetery (across the road from Pine Ridge) and the Hebrew cemetery bordering Pine Ridge on the east. Mr. Seaman died at the age of 72 on March 2, 1899. He was married to Cornelia Smith of Sault Ste. Marie.


    Soldiers Rest - 2002.

    May, 1889: Solders Rest. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Jun. 2008)

    Bay City Tribune - Thursday, May 2, 1889 (Page 4)

    Soldiers Rest
    The Last Resting Place of the Old Vets
    -------

    For the past two weeks Grand Army men have been busily engaged beautifying Soldiers Rest in Pine Ridge cemetery, and their labors were completed Monday night. The ground was raised to the proper grade, sixty-two loads of fertile black dirt being placed theron. Then 250 yards of sod were laid. Walks have been laid out and fixed up in the best possible manner, and Soldiers rest with the large round oval bed, which contains over 500 tulips in bloom, presents a beautiful appearance. There are eleven old soldiers buried here and each mound that covers the respective remains has been nicely sodded and a plain marble stone with the inscription of the name and rank of the deceased mark the grave.

    Sexton Fisher has taken great pains with Soldiers Rest which is the source of attraction to visitors at the cemetery.


    Memorial Day Service - 2009

    May, 1889: Soldiers Rest. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Jun. 2008)

    Bay City Tribune - Tuesday, May 21, 1889 (Page 6)

    Were Not Forgotten
    -------

    Some two years or more ago Bay County purchased a plat of ground in Pine Ridge cemetery for the burial of the soldier dead of the county. The plat was transferred to the U.S. Grant Post No. 67 G.A.R. and that body acquired by purchase a very important acquisition thereto. Improvements have been made in the ground from time to time, nine bodies have been transferred thereto and the name “Soldiers’ Rest” given it. Sunday was selected for the dedication of the ground by the formal ritual of the order and at 2 o’clock U.S. Grant post assembled at their headquarters and marched to the cemetery, preceded by the drum corps and John A. Rawlings camp S. of V. The number of veterans in line was seventy, with some twenty of the camp. Arriving at the cemetery the comrades formed a circle around the mound where it is intended a monument shall be placed in the near future. The ritual service was then read by Post Commander George Turner and the ritual prayer of dedication offered by Chaplain Glidden, the comrades responding with a hearty “amen” and saluted the dead , after which comrade Rev. W.W. Lyle made a short and appropriate address. The ranks were then broken and time given for the rest and social intercourse, after which the ranks were reformed and the post returned to headquarters.

    The day was a delightful one and a large number of people, men, women and children were present to witness the dedication.

    Nine soldiers have been buried in the ground and a number of the gravesites are marked with neat headstones furnished by the government. The plat is situated in the east end of the cemetery and is in fine shape. It is laid out in a circular form and is one of the handsomest pieces of ground in Pine Ridge. It will accommodate a large number of burials.

    1889 Soldier burials. Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - July 2008.
    Note: Extracted portion about Pine Ridge from Memorial Day article. {View}

    The Bay City Tribune -- Thursday, May 30, 1889 (Page 6)

    The Soldier Dead
    -------

    Program to be Carried Out by The Brave
    Heroes Who Are Still Among Us
    -------
    List of The Veterans Interred In The Various
    Cemeteries About Bay City
    -------

    Pine Ridge Cemetery

    F. J. Buckman, lieutenant . Co. F. 20th Pennsylvania Cavalry *
    Edwin Campbell, sailor Mississippi river navy *
    E.J. Colburn, Co. H, 12th Wisconsin Infantry *
    E. F. Hart, Co. H, 1st Michigan Infantry *
    Stephen H. Hagadorn, Co. K 1st Wisconsin heavy artillery
    G. M. Hemingway, Co. H ,4th Michigan Infantry *
    Thomas J. Kelly, Co. D. 74th New York Infantry *
    Harrison Maxon, Co. D, 10th Michigan Cavalry *
    James McCormick, Co. F, 23rd Michigan Infantry *
    A. L. McCormick, Captain ,51st Illinois Infantry *
    Moses Page, private, Co. K, 14th Maine Infantry *
    D. B. Patterson, Chaplain, 78th U.S. Colored Troops *
    Ransom W. Randall, private, Co. I, 14th Michigan Infantry
    Levi Sheppard, private, command unknown
    George P. Shawl, private, Mexican war
    J. R. Thompson Sr, private, Co. C. 7th Michigan Cavalry *
    W.L. Thompson, private, Co. E., 23rd Michigan Infantry *
    J.R. Thompson Jr. private , Co.D, 29th Michigan Infantry *
    J. Thornwaite, Lieutenant, 6th Minnesota Infantry
    A. J. Walton, Berdan sharp shooters *

    Soldiers Rest
    Leonard Jewell, private, Co. A, 14th Michigan Infantry *
    Henry Deniker, private, Co. H, 14th Ohio Infantry *
    David Baker, private, Co. D, 10th Michigan Infantry *
    John Kittle, private, Co. H, 5th Michigan Cavalry
    John Robinson, private, Co. B, 9th Connecticut Infantry
    Alexander Boyd, private, Co. A, 2nd Michigan Cavalry
    Levi Prime, private, Co. D, 10th Michigan Cavalry
    Louis McNeal, private, United States Navy
    John H. A. Bunz, private ,Co. K, 23rd United States Infantry
    Henry Thies, private, Co. G. 10th Michigan Infantry
    Moses Wells, private, Co. K, 23rd Michigan Infantry
    Coney Wolf, private, Co. B, 63rd Ohio infantry

    1892 First Interment. (Contributed by Alan Flood - Jun. 2008)

    The Sunday Times - Sunday, April 24, 1892 (Page 13)

    PINE RIDGE CEMETERY
    -------

    How the First Internment Took Place There.
    -------
    Brief Historical Sketch of the Old
    Burying Ground Near the
    Foot of Eleventh Street.
    ------

    Said a pioneer resident yesterday, in a conversation with The Sunday Times: "There have been almost 5,000 interments in Pine Ridge cemetery since it was then known as the Birney cemetery. The first burial took place under singular circumstances. The laying out of the cemetery grounds had not yet been completed, and one morning, when the men engaged in the work reached the place , they found that during the night someone had buried a child, digging the grave directly in the center of the main path. This child's body had been exhumed from the old burying ground which was located near what is now the corner of Eleventh and Washington streets.

    The old burial place alluded to was in use from 1839 to 1859. It was a sand ridge, and was selected on account of its elevation. The first internment there was that of a man named Bennett, whose death occurred at Pine River. The next burial was that of a Mrs. Derr. These were the only deaths in the settlement for several years.

    About 1859 the late Judge James Birney purchased and set apart five acres for a buring ground, in order to have a suitable place of the grave of his younger brother, George Birney, to whom he was much attached. As soon as the cemetery was ready Judge Birney gave notice that all who had relatives or friends buried in the old place could have the bodies exhumed and re-interred in the new one, and it is said that of all who availed themselves of the opportunity many did not pay a cent beyond the expense of digging the grave. The grounds were enclosed and tastefully laid out, and have been known ever since that time as Pine Ridge cemetery. This city of the dead has been gradually filling up with its silent inhabitants. There are only a few more lots to sell, and not many single graves. Within a few years the portals of Pine Ridge cemetery will no longer be passed by furneral corteges, but the spot will remain sacred to the memory of the departed so peacefully sleeping, undisturbed by the noise and strife of the busy city spread out at their feet forevermore.

    1892 Memorial Day. (Contributed by Alan Flood - Jun. 2008)

    The Bay City Times-Press, May 10, 1892 (Page 5)

    MEMORIAL DAY.
    -------

    Invitations Sent to Various Organizations
    to Take Part in the Exercise May 30.

    Invitations have been sent to the drill corps of the Y.M.C.A., the city police and fire departments, common council, board of education, Polish military society, woman's relief corps of U.S. Grant and H.P. Merrill posts, G.A.R.: Rawlings camp, sons of veterans, Burnett post, of West Bay City; company C, third regiment, M.S.T., and the G.A.R. post at Auburn, to take part in the Memorial day parade in this city on Monday, May 30. The school children will be asked to contribute plants and flowers to decorate the soldiers' graves. The desire is to have as many potted plants as possible, in order that they may be kept green during the summer. C.D. Fisher, sexton of Pine Ridge cemetery, has been employed to take charge of the graves in "Soldiers' Rest," to sod them and help them watered during the summer season. Care will be taken of the plants furnished, and they will be kept in good condition during the entire season. The address of the day will will be delivered by Rev. Dr. Hunting, of Flint. The exercises will take place in Carroll park, unless the weather prevents. Major E. R. Nugent has been designated as officer of the day. The arrangements are under the supervision of a joint committee appointed by U.S. Grant post and H.P. Merrill post.

    1893 Aug. - Soldier's Monument. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx. April 2008)

    The Bay City Tribune - August 19, 1893 (Page 5)

    The Soldier's Monument
    -------

    It Occupies A Conspicuous Place
    In Pine Ridge Cemetery

    The monument designed by the G.A. R. posts of this city to perpetuate the memory of the dead soldiers , has been placed in position in Pine Ridge cemetery. It is of Whitney granite resting on a base of the same material, and stands on a mound three feet high. On the sides of the monument are the following inscriptions:

    “They saved their country
    And fought for freedom.
    They are quietly sleeping
    Under the “Red,White and Blue”

    “To preserve and strengthen those kind and fraternal feeling
    which bind together the soldiers and sailors of the rebellion.”


    Soldiers Rest Monument - 2008

    1896 Shallow Graves. (Added Jan., 2009)

    Annual report of the Commissioner of the Michigan Department of Health, 1896

    ALLEDGE NUISANCES IN MICHIGAN IN 1896.
    _______

    Page 471.

    SHALLOW GRAVES IN PINE RIDGE CEMETERY.
    ______

    The “Detroit Evening News” of March 13, 1896 contained the following item: --

    Bay City, Mich., March 13 – A shocking state of affairs has been revealed in the Pine Ridge cemetery, commonly known as the Birney cemetery. The News directed the attention of the officials to the matter Wednesday afternoon. Officer Wyman obtained a pavement probe, a sharpened iron rod, and accompanied by Dr. Kerr and the News, went to the cemetery. The newly-made graves were the object of immediate attention.

    “Near the rear of the cemetery, along the road leading to the right after entering the main gate, a person was buried only a few days ago. The probe convinced the party that the top of the outside box was on a level with the ground. Bunches of sod and dirt formed an embankment. The mound generally made over a grave indicated that special care had been taken to give the grave an appearance of repose.

    Other graves were subjected to the same test. As many as five of the late ones were so shallow that the outside box came withing two feet from the surface. Some were of the proper depth. In the majority of cases, however, the depth to the top of the box was about two feet. In the Hebrew burying ground, located in the rear of Pine Ridge cemetery, the shallowness of one new-made grave was clearly revealed.

    Dr. Kerr and Officer Wyman were convinced beyond a reason of doubt that the manner in which many of the dead were buried was outrageous. The other cemeteries will be given a thorough investigation. It will not be surprising to find the graves dug in the winter in about the same state as in Pine Ridge cemetery.

    “Prosecuting Attorney Gilbert was notified of the discovery and will act in conjunction with the board of health. The law provides that the board has the power to investigate and abate nuisances. It needs no argument to convince the public that the condition of affairs mentioned above is detrimental to health. In addition to this, the people who have their relatives or friends buried in such a loose manner cannot refrain from becoming indignant. Ghouls would have an easy task to carry away the remains of a mortal buried close to the surface.

    “Evidently it is a difficult task to dig a grave in cold weather. The ground is hard for several feet down. Still this ought not to stand in the way of burying a body at least five feet under ground. Infants should be places at least three and one-half below the surface.

    “It is believed that a state law provides that graves should be a certain depth. Sexton Fisher bears an excellent reputation. It will be learned later whether or not he is cognizant of the condition of certain graves. It is said that in one instance a black cloth was laid over the mouth of the grave to prevent the mourners or friends from seeing the depth of the grave.

    May 11, 1896, the Secretary of this Board wrote to Dr. William Kerr, health officer of Bay City, as follows: --

    “Along in March you were taking some action regarding the shallowness of the graves in Pine Ridge Cemetery. I believe your board dealt with the subject as a nuisance.

    “Will you kindly inform me what has been done with this subject?”

    In reply to the Secretary's letter, May 13, 1896, Dr. Kerr wrote: --

    “Yours of the 11th received and in reply would say that I was present at the examination of certain graves in cemetery in question and saw that they were not deep enough. There was but one, however, that was very near the surface, and that was on the side of a rise in the ground which will be leveled up and there will then be about three feet of earth covering the coffin. I saw the superintendent of the cemetery and he said it was due to the carelessness on the part of the grave digger. Who knew that more earth would soon be placed above the sand in the leveling process. Mr. Fisher, the superintendent told me that he was now very careful about the matter and it should not happen again.

    1900 Jul. - Sale of cemetery. (Contributed by Alan Flood. Aug. 2007)

    The Bay City Sunday Times - Sunday, July 8, 1900, Page 5.

    BOUGHT A CEMETERY.
    ---------

    The Resting Place of Bay City's Pioneers, Beautiful Pine Ridge.
    ---------

    The sale of Pine Ridge cemetery by Mrs. Sophia Birney Blackwell to George W. Ames forshadowed several days ago by this paper has been consummated. Mr. Ames last night acknowledged having made the purchase. When asked what he intended doing with the cemetery he said: "My aim is to have the property properly taken care of. Within it are contained the remains of a great majority of the pioneer residents of Bay City. I become possessor of all of the unoccupied lots. My intention is to get all other lot owners to unite with me in building the fences, laying new walks, trimming the trees and keeping this beautiful spot from going to decay."

    References:
  • Sophia Birney is the daughter of James and Amanda (Moulton) Birney, all three are buried at Pine Ridge cemetery at the Birney family plat. Sophia was born in 1848 at New Haven, CT., and was married to William T. Blackwell at the Trinity Lutheran church in Bay City on July 28, 1892.
  • George W. Ames was a realtor and insurance agent with an office in the Phoenix Building. He was born Oct. 31, 1852, Albion, N.Y., and came to Bay city in 1872, at which time he worked for the Detroit & Bay City Railroad, which later was purchased by the Michigan Central Railroad Co. He entered the real estate and insurance business in 1884.

    1902 Mar.: Cannon donated. (Added April 2007)

    Bay City Tribune - Sunday: March 9, 1902.

    NOW GUARDS THE "SOLDIERS REST"
    ----------

    Howitzer Secured by the Late Congressman Crump.
    ----------
    G.A.R. Posts Send Fitting Letter of Thanks.
    ----------

    During his second term in Congress the late Hon. R. O. Crump secured from the government a cannon to be placed in "Soldiers Rest" in the Birney cemetery, but death ensued before he fully carried out his intentions. The work has now been performed and the following letter sent to the family of the Congressman:

    Bay City, March 7, 1902.
    Shelley C. Crump, West Bay City,

    Dear Sir -- The eight inch howitzer seige gun, belonging to your father the late Congressman R. O. Crump, and presented to H. P. Merrill and U.S. Grant Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic of Bay City, has been placed on the burial lot known as "Soldiers Rest," it. Birney cemetery.

    Both posts passed votes of thanks to you at their last meetings. We wish to assure you that the veterans of the civl war fully appreciate your patriotic thoughtfullness and will value this gun as a relic and reminder of the struggle for national honor and existence in which we had a part as union volunteer soliders.

    GEORGE TURNER, Chairman.
    M. M. ANDREWS, Secretrary.
    Joint committee from the two posts.

    References:
  • {Hon. Rosseauo Crump} was born on May 20, 1843, in Pittsford, Monroe Co., N.Y. He was mayor of West Bay City for four years, and served in the U.S. Congress for three terms. He died in 1901, and is buried at Elm Lawn cemtery in Bay City.
  • Capt. George Turner was born Jan. 29, 1835, Clinton Co., MI. He came to Bay City in 1881 where he served as a city engineer for 23 years supervising the a new sewerage system, building of Belinda Street and 23rd Street bridges, and construction of city hall. He was married to Julia Smith of Michigan, and in 1865, to Sophia P. Thompson of Georgia. A Civil War veteran, he was a member of U.S. Grant Post, No. 67, G.A.R.

    1925 Monument. (Contributed by Alan Flood - Jun. 2008)

    The Bay City Times - Friday, May 23, 1925 (Page 6)

    GRAVE FUND FAILS TO GROW RAPIDLY
    -------

    One Donation of Cash and One of Cement Received Since Thursday.
    -------

    Contributions to Bay City's fund to repair the graves of Civil War veterans of the community and to provide headstones for those that have none, are coming in very slowly, only one cash amount being reported since the list was published Thursday. That one was a donation of $15 from Robert V. Mundy, former mayor and city commissioner, and an honorary member of the G.A.R.

    Besides Mr. Mundy's contribution, however, a donation of ten barrels of cement by the Aetna Portland Cement Co. has been received by Guy H. Greene, chairman of the general Memorial Day Committee, and this will be used along with the sand and gravel donated by the Hersey Gravel Co. of Hersey, Mich. in repairing the Soldiers Rest monument in Pine Ridge Cemetery.

    If more people would take the interest in the fund that little Dorothy Dittrick, 12 years old , 600 Fourteenth street, does, Mr. Greene pointed out, the required amount would soon be raised. This child has already turned in about $13 which she has secured is small sums by personal solicitation among her friends and neighbors.

    1953 May: Cemetery Upkeep after death of C.C. Cuthbert. (Added May, 2008)

    The Bay City Times - May 1, 1953

    Cemetery Upkeep Plan Projected

    Incorporation of Pine Ridge Seen
    ----------

    Owners of the lots in Pine Ridge cemetery seek to form a corporation to raise funds for upkeep of the 90-year-0ld burial plot at Columbus avenue and Tuscola road.

    Application for permission to organize is now before the Michigan Corporation and Securities commission in Lansing.

    The property owners are banding together in an effort to preserve the 1,568-lot cemetery gone into decay since death of last fall of Charles Cuthbert, cemetery owner and long-time sexton.

    Harold Merritt has been named chairman of a temporary association to push the corporation proposal under advice of Attorney Carlton L. Thompson. Mrs. Ricca W. Stutting is secretary.

    Seven trustees include Merritt, Mrs. Harry Hogan, Mrs. Stutting, Donald Hawkins, Mrs. Earl Johnson, Mrs. Lois Spinner and John Smith.

    Meanwhile some $200 has been raised by voluntary contribution for rehabilitation by Memorial Day.

    The organizational move came about when no purchasers for the cemetery property could be found. Only about 150 lots remain for sale.

    1954 May: Elect Officers. (Added April, 2008)

    The Bay City Times - Sunday, May 9, 1954

    Cemetery Group Elects Officers

    Harold N. Merritt Renamed President
    ----------

    Harold N. Merritt has been reelected president of the Pine Ridge Cemetery association, organized last year to assure maintenance of one of the oldest cemeteries in the city.

    Founded back in the late 1800s, the cemetery was falling into decay because of lack of revenue. The association was established to raise funds for its maintenance and to attempt to sell some 150 remaining grave sites.

    Association funds are obtained through contributions of approximately 250 members. Last year better than $2,000 was spent on maintenance of the cemetery, located at the southeast corner of Tuscola and Ridge roads, Merritt said. Funds also pay the salary of a sexton, Arthur Howsman, who succeeds the late Charles Cuthbert, who had cared for the cemetery for many years.

    Officers reelected with Merritt include Mrs. Ricca Stutting, secretary and Don Hawkins, teasurer. New director is Adam Weiler.

    1957 May: Cemetery meeting. (Added May, 2008)

    The Bay City Times - May 5, 1957

    Cemetery Meet Set
    -------

    Pine Ridge Cemetery association will hold its annual meeting at 8 o'clock Wednesday night in the supervisors' room at the Bay county building, according to Harold N. Merritt, president.

    1961: Soldiers Rest Monument.


    Ladies of the GAR standing by the Soldiers Rest Monument
    that was dedicated on Memorial Day 1893 by the U.S. Grant Post no. 67.

    1986 - Moore family. (Added May, 2010)

    The Bay City Times, Aug. 27, 1986, by Nancy Bettie.

    Pine Ridge: A Cemetery
    _______

    “This retired and quiet resting place of those who once took part in life's busy scenes and who, though dead, yet live in the memories and hearts of their mourners, is beautifully situated at the head of Twelfth street...”

    So reads an 1868-69 Bay City directory, in a description of Pine Ridge Cemetery, located on the corner of Ridge and Tuscola roads, believed to be one of the oldest cemeteries in Bay City.

    It's a cemetery that apparently no one owns, purchased in the late 1850s by James Birney, after the death of a favorite brother, George. Bay County Register of Deeds office has no current owner listed on its records for that five-acre piece of property.

    It's a cemetery, too, that might go the way of adjoining Seaman's Cemetery, which is so overgrown with brush that it's difficult to tell it is a cemetery.

    One only has to push aside and peer though the greenery at Seaman's to see abandoned gravestones. A few graves in Seaman's are maintained through arrangements made with Pine Ridge.

    Pine Ridge currently is managed by senior citizen Dorothy K. Moore, a volunteer, who has had the job since 1968. “My husband who has family in Pine Ridge, was on a committee that ran the cemetery,” said Mrs. Moore, whose husband died last year.

    “I've always said we were meant to do something for free, and I guess this is what I'm meant to do. As long as I can do the job, I don't mind. But if something happens to me, what's going to happen? No one else is interested, and there's no money to pay anyone to do the job,” Moore said.

    According to Suzanne Jelicoeur, administrator of cemetery regulations for the state of Michigan, there is no state law which defines what happens to cemeteries like Pine Ridge and Seaman's.

    We encourage cemetery association members to talk to the township or the city to see if they will take care of maintenance. But most townships and cities are reluctant to do that because of the work involved, unless it's in an area they don't want overgrown with weeds. If no one takes it over, the cemetery becomes abandoned,” Jolicoeur said.

    It's a hot potato, tossed back and forth between local governmental officials who know how much work is required in aging cemeteries. Bay City Manager, David Barnes said he'd just as soon see the county or one of the other cemetery associations take it over.

    “Truthfully, I don't anyone would want it. I guess the first thing you'd need to do is see how many lots remain to be sold. In the worse case, if it were abandoned and given the fact it's on a well-traveled road, I guess we'd have our people take a look at it to see what it would take to maintain it. The we might have to contract it out,” Barnes said.

    According to Gary Majeske, Bay County county administrator, “It would seem the city would have the equipment available for lawn cutting and snow removal. We (the county) would help if we could, but it would be setting a precedent and I don't think it's a county problem.”

    Already, at Pine Ridge, some headstones are broken, missing, or were never erected in the first place. Families are responsible for those major expenses or repairs. Some graves, more than 100 years old, are “sinking,” and are filled in whenever possible.

    Pine Ridge and Seaman's were started long before anyone had thought up the idea of “perpetual care” funds to pay for the difficult task of maintaining the cemetery grounds. A cemetery association, a legal corporation, might have been formed at one time, but possibly further back than that.

    According to Jolicoeur, Pine Ridge Cemetery Association was listed as inactive in 1968, when the state conducted a cemetery survey. No corporation papers have been filed in the meantime, Jolicoeur said.

    Moore wants to know someone will care for the cemetery when she's no longer able to do the job.

    “There's a lot of history in that cemetery. The Soldier's Rest monument is there and there are a lot of graves from early Bay City people,” Moore said.

    She began her manager's job after agreeing to straighten out the records for the cemetery committee. “By the time I got them all straightened out, there was no one left to give it back to. They all moved away or died,” she added.

    Records were incomplete, possibly dating back to 1935, Moore said, “I heard that earlier records were kept in a downtown office, which burned down.”

    She has organized all existing records, and maintained up-to-date records on new burials since she started managing the cemetery. That organized information helps when people on a genealogy hung contact Moore for details.

    The cemetery operates like it always has, maintained on a year-to-year basis with whatever money Moore can collect from the dwindling list of surviving relatives. She writes to about 100 people, those she knows about, once a year. At the time plots were sold, the annual assessment for upkeep was $15. Some people give more, some less and some not at all.

    Last year, for example, relatives sent in about $1,500, and Moore spent about $1,600 on maintenance. She can't generate new revenue by selling plots because “they're not mine to sell.”

    And, she's not sure which plots are available for sale, since records are incomplete. In some cases grave diggers must probe to make sure that the lot is indeed empty.

    Maintenance is done a “money-available” basis. “I check the situation out there and we maintain it according to the money I taken in. I have a good man who comes out, brings his own equipment and cuts the grass and clears out brush,” she said.

    There is now only one working water faucet in the cemetery. Pipes leading to others rusted away, leaked city water that Moore had to pay for, and eventually were shut off.

    When her employee clears brush, the city won't always pick it up, based on its rule that brush cleared by contractors must be disposed by the contractor. When a tree falls, it's a major problem clearing and disposing of it. Old stumps, too expensive to remove, are allowed to remain.

    Four years ago, enough money was raised to erect a new fence around the cemetery. And Moore painted a sign, identifying the cemetery, herself.

    “We try to do what we can, but it's a major job. A cemetery, especially one this old, isn't easy to maintain. I know there are more family members who could help out financially, but I just don't have time to track them all down,” Moore said.


    Dorothy died in 1990 and her husband, Lewis B. Moore, died in 1985.


    Both are buried in Pine Ridge Cemetery.

    Comment: Today one man , Ron Graham, 72 years-old is maintaining the grounds of Pine Ridge Cemetery. As much as we have called for volunteers to help Ron at the cemetery, only a few occasionally respond for a short period of time. This leaves Pine Ridge Cemetery in a tenuous condition of being lost again to become a wild wilderness of nature. This has happened to the cemetery in the past, and we should be a shame if the public to allow this to happen again. Pine Ridge is unusual. It was founded a few years before the lumber boom arrived that drew pioneers from the east to work in lumbering and increasing the population of Bay City by many thousands. Many of these pioneers are now buried at Pine Ridge Cemetery. Is it too much for us do a little to keep up their burial grounds? To help you all you need to do is visit the cemetery and begin doing something.

    Additional Notes.

    Pine Ridge Cemetery Care Takers.

      Buried at Pine Ridge:

    • Birney: James (1817-1888), founder, res. 1005 Tenth St.
    • Fisher: Charles D. (1829-1899), sexton, res. 1706 5th St.; also maintained Hebrew Cemetery ajoining east boundry.
    • Moore: Lewis (1902-1985) & Dorothy "Sovey" (1905-1999), managers.
    • Seaman: George ( ), sexton, res. e s Tuscola Rd., also sexton at Green Ridge, founded Seaman Cemetery.

      Others:

    • Ames: George W., 1900-1931, owner
    • Brown: Alexander (unk), laborer, bds. 1706 5th St. (Fisher res.)
    • Campau: Louis (unk), laboer, res. Pine Ridge Cemetery.
    • Compeau: Louis (Unk), laborer, res. Pine Ridge cemetery.
    • Condon: John (1832-?), sexton/manager; spouse: Catharine Miller.
    • Cuthbert: Charles C. (1879-1952), sexton/manager
    • Merritt: Harold N. (), manager, res.

    1883 - Directory: Bay City, Mich.

    • Compion, Joseph - laborer Pine Ridge Cemetery, res e s Tuscola Plank rd., "inside cemetery".
    • Pine Ridge Cemetery - East side of Tuscola Plank road, opposite east end of Twelfth street, Hon. James Birney, proprietor. Office Chronicle Building, Water street. George D. Seaman, Sexton; "resides in cemetery".

    1884-5 Directory, Bay City, Mich.:

    • Pine Ridge Cemetery - East side of Tuscola Plank road, opposite east end of Twelfth street. Hon. James Birney proprietor. Office, Chronicle Building, Water steet. George D. Seaman, sexton, "resides in cemetery".

    1887 - Directory: Bay City, Mich.

    • Condon, John - sexton Pine Ridge Cemetery, res 1300 9th.
    • Pine Ridge Cemetery - East side of Tuscola Plank road opposite east end of Twelft street. John Condon, Sexton; "resides in cemetery".

    1890 - Directory: Bay City, Mich.

    • Brown, Alexander - laborer Pine Ridge cemetery, bds 1706 5th.
    • Campau, Louis - laborer G.D. Seaman, "res Pine Ridge cemetery".
    • Campeau, Louis - laborer Pine Ridge cemetery, "res n e cor Tuscola Plank and Ridge Rds."
    • Fisher, Charles D - sexton Pine Ridge and Hebrew cemeteries, res 1706 5th ave.
    • Pine Ridge Cemetery - East side of Tuscola Plank road, fronting on the east end of Twelfth street. C.D. Fisher, sexton.


  • Related Pages & Notes

    James Birney (1817-1888)

    Related links:
    Ames, George W.
    Birney 1846 Letter to Geo.
    Birney, James (founder)
    Cuthbert, Charles C.
    Pine Ridge Transfers
    Potters field
    Brif History:
    Pine Ridge cemetery was established in about 1858/59 on five acres of land James Birney purchased from William Fitzhugh in 1858. Birney, who died in 1888, transferred the property to his daughter Sophia. She in turned sold the property to George Ames in 1900, and he held the property until his death in 1931, and he is the last known owner of the cemetery.
    -- Research done by Edward Chilton in 2013 on Ames' death records showed he had two businesses, The Northern Title and Trust Co., and a large insurance agency. It is most likely that Pine Ridge Cemetery was managed by the Northern Title and Trust Co.
    -- Charles Cuthbert, who was sexton at the time of Ame's death, continued to maintain the cemetery until 1952 when he died. A year later Harold Merritt led a group to an association to take on the maintenance. The information regarding the disallution of this group is sketchy. It may have been just before 1968, when Mr. and Mrs Moore became prominently involved with the cemetery. Mr. Moore died in 1985, and his wife, Dorothy K., carried on the task until some time before 1995, as that year, Covenant Cemetery Serves made an attempt to create an association to service Pine Ridge, but this never materialized. In 1999 Dave and Delores Rogers formed the all volunteer group Friends of Pine Ridge and the cemetery has been maintained since then by this group.
    Cemetery's Owners:
  • 1858
    ... Judge James Birney.
  • 1888
    ... Sophia (Birney) Blackwell
  • 1900
    ... George W. Ames.
    Cemetery's Managers:
  • 1889-1952
    ... Charles C. Cuthbert
  • 1953-60
    ... Harold Merritt.
  • 1968-90
    ... Lewis & Dorothy Moore.
  • 1987-2009
    ... Dave & Delores Rogers.
  • 2009 - present
    ... New Dimensions
    Veterans Burials:
  • War of 1812 - 1
  • Seminole War - 1
  • Mexican War - 2
  • Civil War - 142
  • Span.-Amer. War - 5
  • World War I - 7
  • World War II - 8
  • Korean War - 1
  • Total - 167
    Burials (biography):
    Barney, Cromwell
    Barney, Mary E.
    Bateman, Frank L.
    Benson, Samuel
    Birney Family Genealogy
    Birney, James
    Bligh, Theodore
    Braddock, Edward B.
    Bradley, Nathan B.*
    Carney, Thomas
    Carney, Wm. E.
    Catlin, Elijah S.
    Cottrell, Charles B.
    Culver, Leman L.
    Daglish, Wm. Dr.
    Derr, Elizabeth.
    Dineson, Avery Rev.
    Fisher, Charles D. Mrs.
    Fraser (Busby), Eliz.
    Gilbert, Harvey Dr.
    Gordon, James
    Hogle, James S.
    Hogle, James W.
    Jewell, Leonard
    Kittredge, Moses H.
    Mandley, Jason C.
    Maxson, William
    McCormick, James
    McCormick, James J.
    McEwan, William
    Newkirk, Charles T.
    Padley, Richard
    Phillips, Theodore C.
    Plush, John H.
    Porter, Edward W.
    Rogers (Wilcox), Elizabeth.
    Rogers, Thomas.
    Royce, Joshua J.
    Russell, Louis R.
    Schindehette, Henry
    Seaman, Geo. D.
    See, Wilfred E.
    Sinclair, Alfred G.
    Smith, William
    VanKleeck, James
    Walton, Andrew J.
    Wellman, George A.
    Wilson, John S. Capt.
    * Removed to another cemetery.
    Listing of Burials
    Bay Co. Genealogy Society

    -----
    [ A-C ] [ D-F ] [ G-I ] [ H-L ]
    [ M-O ] [ P-R ] [ S-U ] [ V-Z ]
    [ Military ]

    Maps Library/
    {Pine Ridge Cem. Map}
    Personals/
    Pine Ridge web page.
    - Includes many photos.
    Pictorials/
    Cemeteries
  • People Referenced
    Ames, George W. (owner)
    Andrews, M.M.
    Baker, David
    Barnes, David
    Bennett,
    Bettie, Nancy
    Birney, George
    Birney, James (founder)
    Blackwell(Birney), Sophia
    -- Owner
    Boyd, Alexander
    Brown, Alexander (laborer)
    Buckman, F.J.
    Bunz, John H.A.
    Campau, Louis (laborer)
    Campbell, Edwin
    Campeau, Louis (laborer)
    Campion, Joseph
    -- aka. Compion
    Colburn, E.J.
    Condon,John (sexton)
    Crump, R.0. Hon.
    Crump, Shelley
    Cuthbert, Charles (sexton)
    Deniker, Henry
    Derr, Mrs.
    Dittrick, Dorothy
    Fisher, Charles D. (sexton)
    Gilbert, (Atty.)
    Glidden, (Chaplain)
    Greene, Guy H.
    Hagadorn, Stephen H.
    Hart, E.F.
    Hawkins, Donald
    Hemingway, G.M.
    Hunting, Dr. Rev.
    Jelicoeur, Suzzanne
    Jewell, Leonard
    Johnson, Earl Mrs.
    Kelly, Thomas J.
    Kerr, Wm. Dr.
    Kittle, Joyn
    Lyle, W.W. Rev.
    Majeske, Gary
    Maxon, Harrison
    McCormick, A.L.
    McNeal, Louis
    Merritt, Harold N. (mgr.)
    Moore, Dorothy Mrs.(mgr.)
    Moore, Lewis (mgr.)
    Moulton, Amanda
    Mundy, Robert (fmr. mayor)
    Nugent E.R. Major
    Page, Moses
    Patterson, D.B.
    Prime, Levi
    Randall, Ransom W.
    Robinson, John
    Seaman, George D. (sexton)
    Shawl, George P.
    Shepard, Levi
    Smith, Cornelia
    Smith, John
    Smith, Julia
    Spinner, Lois Mrs.
    Stutting, Ricca Mrs.
    Thies, Henry
    Thompson, Carlton L.
    Thompson Jr., J.R.
    Thompson Sr., J.R.
    Thompson, Sophia P.
    Thompson, W.L.
    Thornwaite, J.
    Turner, George
    Walton, A.J.
    Weiler, Adam
    Wells, Moses
    Wolf, Coney
    Wyman,
    Subjects Referenced
    Aetna Portland Cement Co.
    Auburn, MI
    Bay City, MI
    Bay Co. Bd. of Health
    Birney cemetery
    Burnett post
    Cannon, 8" howitzer
    Carroll park
    Chronicle building
    Civl War
    Detroit New, The
    Flint, MI
    G.A.R.
    Green Ridge cemetery
    H.P. Merrill Post
    Hebrew cemetery
    Hersey Gravel Co.
    Hersey, MI
    Howsman, Arthur
    John R. Rawlings camp
    Pine Ridge cemetery
    Pine Ridge Association
    Pine River
    Plank road*
    Polish military society
    Rawlings camp
    Soldiers Rest
    U.S. Grant Post
    U.S. GAR Post #67
    Y.M.C.A.
    West Bay City, MI
    Womens Relief Corps
    * now Tuscola Rd.
    Related Images
    ABANDONED -
    Pioneer Cemetery


    Help Save Pine Ridge Cemetery
    Learn More
    About This Cause!

    The cemetery is managed today by a handful of volunteers that can use any help they can get.

    {Click to enlarge.}

    Birneys Buried at Pine Ridge:
  • James (1817-1888) & Amanda "Moulton" (1819-1882) Birney.
    Their children:
    - Arthur Birney (?-1882).
    - Sophia "Blackwell" (1848-1909)
    - James G.(1844-1870).
  • George Birney, brother of James.

    George W. Ames (1892)


    Capt. George Turner


    Cannon in Soldiers Rest.
    (Click to enlarge)


    Volunteers installing replacement Civil War headstones.

    Child's marker found sunken 6" below ground.


    Clearing branches affecting
    flag pole, donated by
    DuRussel Tree Service.
    Damage border of family plot.
    Memorial Day Ceremony.
    Jim Petrimoulx and Allan Flood digging for missing spiral.

    New entrance fencing donated by Bay City Rotary Club.

    Dave & Delores Rogers
    lead volunteer group maintaining cemetery from 1987-2009.
  • Internet Resources
    [MiGenWeb (Bay County, Mi)]
    - Has a listing of burials online for both cemeteries recorded during walk through.
    [Bay County Genealogy Society]
    - Has other resources that could assist you locating your ancestor's information.
    {Find A Grave}
    - Has information on over 900 burials at Pine Ridge.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.