Identity of bodies sought

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, January 26, 2006

By Staff
BUCHANAN - Friends of Oak Ridge Cemetery is seeking help in identifying persons buried in the community's first cemetery, The Old Burying Ground, now known as Kathryn Park.
Friends has a list of more than 100 names compiled from several sources, but wants to make the list as inclusive as possible before those names are cast onto a metal plaque to be erected at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Remains and tombstones were moved from The Old Burying Ground to the oldest sections of Oak Ridge Cemetery more than a century ago.
With the help of Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, Friends hopes to have the plaque erected this summer at the site of the largest concentration of re-interments, located on the cemetery's west side, near the More mausoleum.
The list of known burials may be viewed at Buchanan City Hall, the Local History Room at Buchanan District Library, Buchanan Senior Services or the Berrien County Record.
Anyone with knowledge of someone who was buried at The Old Burying Ground, but whose name is not on the list, or anyone with additional information on anyone whose name is on the list, contact Lace (269) 695-5676, Lyle Sumerix (269) 695-9733, Ron Bennett (269) 695-0489, Bob Brown at or any other officer or member of Friends, or mail information to Friends of Oak Ridge Cemetery, P.O. Box 142, Buchanan 49107. All available information, both personal and of historic nature, should be included.
Friends asks that all information be made available by March 1 so that design of the plaque may be completed.
The one-acre site for The Old Burying Ground, at what now is Moccasin Avenue and Fourth Street, was purchased by the Village of Buchanan in 1844, with the first burial being that of a son of David Sanford. The cemetery was used from 1844 into the late 1860s, after Oak Ridge Cemetery became the village's official cemetery in 1868.
In 1894, Circuit Judge Oliver Coolidge ordered The Old Burying Ground vacated at the request of the Common Council of the village.
An article in the Berrien County Record on March 14, 1895, listed the number of known graves at 93, but other names were later added. Families were given a chance to move remains to family plots before the village moved the remaining graves to Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Of 105 known graves at that time, 46 were moved to family plots at Oak Ridge, 38 were moved by the village, and 21 others are unaccounted for.
After the cemetery was vacated, The Old Burying Ground was renamed Kathryn Park in honor of Katherine “Kit” Kingery, daughter of John and Malinda (Miller) Kingery, who “gave of her time and money to make (the park) a success.”
Kingery died in 1947 and is buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery. As yet, Friends has been unable to determine why the spelling of Kathryn Park and Katherine Kingery are different.