Former Glen Arbor Township Cemetery lives again

Photos by Grace Dickinson Johnson

By Linda Alice Dewey

Sun contributor

On Saturday, November 23, an unprecedented event occurred in Glen Arbor. An old abandoned graveyard came alive again, thanks to some very caring folks from here and from Interlochen. 

The former Glen Arbor Township Cemetery, located off Forest Haven Road between M-109 and M-22, had been decimated by the August 2015 storm. Downed trees made it nearly impossible to get to the graveyard. The site, which now belongs to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, had been virtually abandoned and was totally uncared-for.

That is no longer the case. Now one can again view most of the 13 gravestones, thanks to 10 loggers from Parshall Tree Clearing Experts of Interlochen, who donated their time toward the effort. 

Among those 13 stones are three belonging to Civil War veterans, another belongs to Nels Oleson, and others are for several members of the Trumbull family. Many more graves, at least 26, are unmarked. Misplaced cemetery records have yet to be found. 

The site served as the Glen Arbor Township Cemetery from 1879 to 1927. Aside from a few family plots within the township, if your obituary noted that you died in Glen Arbor, you would have been buried there.

Since 2015, no effort had been made to clear the cemetery of the fallen timber, until this past Saturday, when Parshall TCE and a dozen volunteers showed up to help out. 

The work began at 9 am, and by 1:30 pm, the site was cleared as far as Dan Ostrowski, from the National Park Service, who managed the project for the NPS, was authorized to go. Now you can walk in from the fire break on Forest Haven Road to the cemetery.

When the work was finished, the workers were treated to lunch at Arts Tavern free of charge, they were each given a half gallon of cider compliments of Anderson’s IGA, and they took back a box of goodies donated by Cherry Republic. Tips were covered by private donors.

This spring, eight graders from Glen Lake School will go into the cemetery and clean it up in a new, annual adopt-a-grave program, where they will learn about our heritage by researching the people buried there. They plan to hold a ceremony at the site sometime around Memorial Day. 

Linda Dewey’s love of this place spearheaded her effort to launch this initiative. It’s special because of an experience she had there beginning in 1991, when she first visited the cemetery. Dewey wrote a book about that experience, “Aaron’s Crossing: an inspiring true ghost story,” available at local bookstores.