Oakhill Cemetery is located in Section 24 on Yeomans Street in Ionia. This cemetery is Ionia's first cemetery. Many of Ionia County's founders are buried here. There are over 1,400 transcribed burials for this cemetery from the early 1800's. In addition, there are many more unmarked burials.
2010 Update: During March all markers were photographed and reread by Wayne Summers with the assistance of Sharon Wood.
The following information was taken with the author's permission
from a photo story published by the Sentinel Standard in it's weekly special magazine The
Sentinel Magazine on Friday, Oct. 25, 1996.
R.I.P. Oak Hill
Elizabeth Essick, the town's most celebrated artist, is there. So is Samuel Dexter, it's founder. So are an honor roll of Ionia's best-known 19th Century surnames: Page, VanderHeyden, Waterbury, Cornell, Tower, Welch, Kidd. All can be found in Oak Hill Cemetery. It's seven and one-half acres comprise a close-knit final subdivision for families that built the city. At Oak Hill's east end, Yeomans Street is visible downhill through the trees from the last resting place of Erastus Yeomans himself. His last wish was to be buried within a stone's throw of his farm. With a little retrospective vision and a strong arm, that can be done.
Essick, who died at age 76 in 1958, is one of the more recent Oak Hill arrivals. No one has been interred here since an urn burial last year. Little space is left, and many plots belong to families whose line has reached an end or whose descendants have moved elsewhere.
Plot records mostly were destroyed by a turn-of-the-century City Hall fire. But, Marilyn Webster, an Ionia resident and indefatigable local history researcher, has painstakingly remapped Oak Hill. Webster's hours in the Hall-Fowler Library and careful study of the stone inscriptions themselves have yielded a good guide to who lies where. She has taken hundreds of photographs preserving inscription information from stones that have not already become unreadable. "I didn't start coming up here until I got into genealogy and needed the information," she said during a walk through Oak Hills rolling acreage. "Now I like to think of all of these people as old friends whom I've studied." With the engaging zeal for unmet personages that only a historian can muster Webster had something interesting to point out at nearly every turn. "Here's Lucius F. Mills, a captain in the Civil War," she said at one stop. "He came back deaf, because of artillery fire. He was a builder of note in Ionia. He died when he was walking down railroad tracks and didn't hear an approaching train."
The Michigan Cemetery Atlas lists 55 final resting places in Ionia County. It's a fascinating book of county maps, pinpointing the location of all of the state's registered cemeteries, including some that have been abandoned. Look inside the back cover of the Hall-Fowler Library's copy of the atlas and you will find Marilyn Webster's research on locations of family plots at Oak Hill.
The majesty of old-time markers ranges from elaborate sculpture to Frederick Hall's simple pylon, pinkish in the sunlight. It is his home that houses the Hall-Fowler Library on Ionia's Main Street. A perfect circle of discovery. [NOTE: Frederick Hall's marker and burial is in Highland Park, not Oak Hill.]
Last update December 06, 2012