More on the Kirk Park graves

Here's an update on the graves in and nearby Kirk Park:
Mark Brooky
Nov 8, 2013


John of Grand Haven originally asked about a grave he saw on Lakeshore Drive near Kirk Park. "I can't seem to locate it anymore," he wrote. "What happened to it? I think the name was Dechenne or something similar."


Here's what I've found out since this Mailbag was first posted Nov. 6:

The grave of Mathilda DuShane is indeed on the east side of Lakeshore Drive, just north of the entrance of Kirk Park. The marker says she was the daughter of Peter and Mary DuShane of Agnew, and she was just 17 days old when she died Aug. 8, 1872.

Kelly of Grand Haven called me and said she had been in contact with a descendant of the girl, and the elderly man told her the history of the grave. Kelly was told 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.

There is also a grave inside Kirk Park, surrounded by a wood fence. There is no name on a worn headstone, just "Aged 5 yrs. 5 mos. 3 days."

In his "Directory: People in Ottawa County," Dr. Wallace Ewing explained that the grave dates back to 1856. Ewing says a 5-year-old Native American boy, Ponesso, is buried there. The boy's father, Chief William Cobmoosa, drowned in 1870 and is buried at Lake Forest Cemetery. The boy's mother, Sophia Cobmoosa, died in 1874 and is also buried at Lake Forest Cemetery.

"Chief Cobmoosa visited the Kirk Park area for its clay, which the women fashioned into pottery while the men hunted," Ewing explains. "While on one of these expeditions in 1856, his 5-year old son died and was buried there.

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.




I love these history-packed articles and especially when area citizens are able to contribute pieces to bring it all together. This is an excellent way for us understand how our community has evolved into what we have today. Those early pioneers and founding citizens teach us a lot and we should never forget their history.

I'm not originally from the area but certainly appreciate the interest in preserving our community heritage for all to benefit from. Bravo Tribune Staff!




Yeah! The Tribune needs more content like this instead of the boring blogs that they always plug.

I am a huge history buff, and would LOVE to see much more of this type of stuff, especially the areas railroad history.

In fact, to start off, most people know that the railroad used to run to where Dewey Hill now sits. Being that I am heavily involved with the Musical Fountain, I have found many traces over there that are clues to the prior use of the land... I have also heard many rumors that the old freight house is actually still under the musical fountain having been covered over by sand and never torn down. Is there any truth to this rumor? I have heard it from too many people to just simply dismiss it.

Additionally, another neat thing to see (especially this time of year) is the old railroad grade out in Robinson Twp on Lincoln a bit east of 120th. It is clearly visible on the south side of Lincoln (and also many other places in the area) next to a telephone pole and phone box. The tracks were ripped up over 100yrs ago, but the grade is still visible.

It's stuff like that which really interests me.


Years ago when I was in college, a couple of friends and I walked the entire railroad grade from Holland to the Grand River. What I had no way of knowing then was that someday I would live where that same railroad grade was right in my yard.


That's awesome. I don't think there is much left of the original grade due to development, but you can definitely still see patches here and there.


Even back then, we had to carefully plot our way across the area north of Holland because it was easy to lose. Today, you can still find large sections of it between Port Sheldon Street and the river. I find it amazing that on satellite views, one can still see the traces of it even where there are only corn fields today.


Are there still organized geo caching history hunts in the tri-cities? My husband and I participated in all of the scavenger hunts until we switched to an online subscription and could no longer see the clues in the paper - I miss the hunt!


In 1934 when the stretch of Lakeshore Drive between GH and Holland was being constructed engineers ran into the grave of Mathilda DuShane. The wanted to exhume the remains and move her, but — believe it or not — one brother and two sisters popped up (62 years after their sister was buried.) Without family consent, the road had to be constructed with a bend/curve around Mathilda's grave by Kirk Park. She almost go paved over, in fact.


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