Kirk Park grave?

John of Grand Haven asked, "When I was younger, there was a grave on Lakeshore Drive between Grand Haven and Port Sheldon. I think it was around Kirk Park. I can't seem to locate it anymore. What happened to it? I think the name was Dechenne or something similar."
Mark Brooky
Nov 6, 2013



Perhaps you mean the fenced-in grave in Kirk Park? There's no name on that worn headstone, just "Aged 5 yrs. 5 mos. 3 days."

"I know what you are talking about, but don't have any details," said John Scholtz, director of the Ottawa County Parks Department. "I haven't noticed if it is gone now, but I had seen the fenced grave in the past near the bike path to the north of the Kirk Park entrance."

Perhaps our reader has the name "Dechenne" confused with Jim DuFresne, who authored a book, "The Complete Guide to Michigan Sand Dunes"? The Kirk Park grave is mentioned in the book.

Anyway, there isn't much that I could find out about that grave. I believe it is a local mystery. Perhaps a reader might enlighten us on it.

Do you have a question for the Tribune? E-mail it to, and type MAILBAG in the subject line. Or mail it the old-fashioned way to: Grand Haven Tribune, MAILBAG, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417. We'll do our best to get you an answer! A new Mailbag appears on three times a week: at 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.



It's now Phase 1 of Cuesta Verda Estates.

Joyce Cawthon

When we first moved out there in 1980 we would walk the path up the dune to the park overlook to the beach (at Kirk Park). There was a grave there and it sure looks like the same stone. We were told by much older residents (the Fuites: now long deceased) that it marked the grave of an Indian child, but since the dune had moved and fallen into the lake several times over, that people had moved the gravestone but the remains had long been lost. At one point the park even put a nice railing around it - but again we had major lake erosion in the 80's and it again fell in. That's all I remember, sorry.

Joyce Cawthon

I re-read your request - there was also a grave right along Lakeshore - directly opposite 10145 Lakeshore - on the east side of the street under a big old tree. It actually was on my grandparents' property but had nothing to do with them. I think it might still be there - the story was it was the grave also of a small child that died very young, but my grandparents had someone from U of M (Ann Arbor) come and x-ray the ground and determined it was a large dog. The owners had put up a stone under the tree which was at that time in their back yard. Again, sorry,

Mark Brooky

Thanks, Joyce!


Joyce, you rock.

River Man

As a kid in the 70's I was told that it was a native american child that drowned.


I also remember the grave on the east side of Lakeshore Dr. in the late 60's and early 70's and the story I was told that it was a very young Native American boy and the grave had been there a long time. I think I picked up my information from when I attended Elementary School at Rosy Mound. We had studied the Native American Indian's that lived in Ottawa County as well as all around Michigan. We may have even taken a field trip to that site at one time.


I walked up the stairs to the grave at Kirk Park a couple of years ago. It's still there, but the portion of the stone with the child's name has broken off. Go to the concession stand building in the park. There is some historical background posted about the grave and the family who once owned the property, including the child's name.

Mark Brooky

R. Riepma sent the following to the newsroom e-mail:

The grave in Kirk Park was for Ponessa Cobmosay, son of Whilliam and Sophia Cobmosay. Willioam Cobmosay drowned in Lake Michigan - his body was never recovered. There is a Memorial Marker over his empty gravesite in Lake Forest Cemetary. His sister is buried in an unmarked grave to the left (north) of his marker.

Sophia Cobmosay bought land on the north side of the Grand River, ob Battle Point, across from Felix's. Sophia died in 1874, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Lake Forrest Cemetary, in the Potters Field.

His grandparents, the Naughtay (spelling varies) lived on the land at Kirk Park, and later moved over by Felix's.

see also

"William Cobmoosa [Cobmosa/Cobmosay] [1830-1870] On a gravestone at Kirk Park [9791 Lakeshore Drive], a former Boy Scout camp south of Grand Haven, appeared the names of William and Sophia Cobmoosa as parents of Ponesso, a five year old boy who was buried there in 1856. William was born April 23, 1830 and drowned on June 23, 1870. He was buried at Lake Forest Cemetery. Sophia was born on September 12, 1834, died on December 20, 1874, and was buried at Lake Forest Cemetery. William‟s name meant Big Walker. Chief Cobmoosa visited the Kirk Park area for its clay, which the women fashioned into pottery while the men hunted. While on one of these expeditions in 1856 his five-year old son died and was buried there. They also had a daughter, Marian, who was born about 1867. In 1864 William and his wife bought property at Battle Point, along the Grand River. According to Eleanor McNett, the Chief died while intoxicated, and his body was found in the bottom of a canoe on the shores of the Grand River, near Battle Point. After his death, Sophia apparently married James Cobmoosa. After Sophia‟s death, Marian was adopted by Joseph and Cecilia McSauba of Grand Haven. William was buried at Pentwater.
In his early life, Chief Cobmoosa was a sub-chief of the Flat River Indians in Kent County. Franklin Everett in Memorials on the Grand River Valley described him this way: “He was an old man of majestic appearance. His manner of walking gave him his name, „The Great Walk.‟ He had a Mormon supply of wives, no less than six. He stayed behind when others went to Pentwater in 1855. To the last he remained an Indian, living in a wigwam, though rich. He was then tastefully dressed in Indian style and seemed proud that he was an Indian. But each passing year took away his kingly bearing and soon Cobmosay was but a bowed and shuffling old man.”

Mark Brooky

Apparently we are talking about several out-of-the-ordinary graves in the same area.

The one that sparked the original question, from John of Grand Haven, is indeed on the east side of Lakeshore Drive near the entrance of Kirk Park. Here's what I've found out since this Mailbag was first posted:

A baby girl named Mathilda DuShane is or was buried there. The marker says she was 17 days old when she died Aug. 8, 1872, and she was the daughter of Peter and Mary DuShane of Agnew.

A Grand Haven woman named Kelly said she was in contact with a member of the girl's family, who told her the history of the grave. She said the family used to own the farm in that area in the 1800s, and later fought the state and the county to maintain the grave under the big old tree.

The grave is surrounded by a wrought-iron gate. A new marker has been added in recent years.

If you would like to see photos of the grave, CLICK HERE.


Thanks to all for the above information. Just today my husband and I discovered little Ponesso's grave in Kirk Park. Since the stone is so worn, I hope the county will put a plaque at the grave to identify it. This is an important site in our local Odawa (Indian) history.


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