Archived Story

Hear tales from the grave

Published 9:26am Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BUCHANAN – Did you ever wish the dead could talk?

The annual Cemetery Walk at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Buchanan, coming Sunday, Oct. 4, is the next best thing.

Narrators will introduce people who gave their names to a building or organization in Buchanan.

The first tour will start at 1 p.m., and additional tours will start at about 15 minute intervals, with the last one starting at 3 p.m.

The tours will start at the Knight Chapel, where additional information will be available on this year’s subjects. For the first time, the Cemetery Walk will be in the new (south) part of the cemetery. The tour is sponsored by Friends of Oak Ridge Cemetery and is a free event.

Buchanan’s dead to be remembered include the following:

Ralph A. Rumbaugh
The local American Legion Post was named after Ralph A. Rumbaugh (1892-1918) who was killed in France during the First World War, at the Battle of Marne. He was a motorcycle runner, and was taking a message to the rear when he was killed by German machine gunners. Rumbaugh was originally buried in France and then moved to Oak Ridge Cemetery in August 1921. Dale Backus, of the American Legion Riders, will be the narrator.

Lewis and Lona Spafford
Lewis Burton Spafford (1874-1941) and his wife, Lona A. Spafford (1876-1963) donated Spafford Woods (which was behind their home on River Street) to the City of Buchanan.

Early in their careers, Burt and Lona  were Lyceumite entertainers. Their act was described by one newspaper as:  cartoon and landscape drawing, music on foreign instruments, sculpture and clay modeling, humor and pathos, with an undercurrent of solid thought which combine to make an entertainment that is entirely unlike any other. Kathy Swem will talk about the Spaffords.

Ephraim and Louisa Sanders

The Ross-Sanders House, which now houses the Buchanan Police Station, was the first brick residence built in Buchanan (1856). In 1897, Ephraim Sanders (1845-1916) and Louisa (Rough) Sanders (1850-1899) bought the house from the Ross family, and lived there with their two children, Frank and Hattie.

Ephraim Sanders was a retail merchant and banker. Frank Sanders (1875-1946) was an attorney in Buchanan for 45 years, served as village/city attorney for about 20 years, and was Asst. Attorney General for Michigan in the 1920s.  His wife, Ada Dacy Sanders (1878-1948) was city treasurer at one time, and was the last person to live in the Ross-Sanders House. Pat Moore will talk about the Sanders family.

Robert Jay Burrows

Robert Jay Burrows (1884-1947) was a vice-president of Clark Equipment for about 30 years. However, his main contribution to Buchanan may have been in his role as inventor (both at Clark Equipment and its predecessors, Celfor Tool, and the Lee and Porter Axle Works).  R. J. Burrows was the inventor of the first internal gear axle, which, with other inventions, was the basis for much of the manufacturing which took place at the Axle Division in Buchanan.  Even when R. J. Burrows was managing the Clark Trucktractor Division in Battle Creek, he maintained his home in Buchanan. Corbin Detgen will portray Robert Jay Burrows.

Charles H. ‘Pete’ Fuller

Charles H. “Pete” Fuller (1863-1947) ran a resort at Clear Lake for nearly 50 years. Originally called the Coney Beach Resort, it is still known today as Fuller’s Resort & Campground.

The original resort, a hotel operating during the summer months, featured a dance hall, bathing, boating, lawn tennis, croquet, trips around the lake on a steam launch, a ‘lovers lane,’ and a giant slide into the water. The rates at the hotel were $6-$7 per week or $1.25 per day. There was a two-horse ‘bus’ to take guests from the train station or a river boat to Clear Lake. Pete Fuller was a great story teller, and his personality contributed to the success of his resort. Bob Brown will talk about Pete Fuller.

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