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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Death Comes to Charles W. Garfield

by Mary Emily Schroeder

At 4:25 A.M. on Sunday morning, September 9, 1934, at Butterworth Hospital, Charles W. Garfield, aged 86, Grand Rapids' "Grand Old Man" entered into his eternal rest. Bearers will be old and dear friends: Dean Davenport, Dean Emeritus of the University of Illinois; Professor Thomas Gunson, Professor Emeritus of Horticulture, Michigan State; Fred R. Jean; John B. Martin; William Tallmadge; Clay H. Hollister. There will be no honorary bearers "every citizen might consider himself as an honorary bearer."

The Burial Tree: Under a large tree, near the Lodge in Garfield Park, a tree which he himself planted, the earthly remains of Charles W. Garfield were laid to rest, in a private burial ceremony. Permission to be buried there had been arranged by Mr. Garfield years before, and it certainly afforded a beautiful and appropriate resting place for the man who had so loved, cherished, and planted trees; and had so loved and cherished children that he had given the land of this Park to the City and the community so that they, the children, might always have an adequate place to play. Now, he, the land, and the children could sort of become one! It had been one hundred years before, in 1834, that Barney and Harriet Burton had come to this piece of property as man and wife, and planted the first trees which started this land on its "way to fame." Now, a century later, Mr. Garfield, by being buried on it, maintains and perpetuates its historic link with its pioneer past, as his earthly remains rest there under his Eternal Tree!

Excerpted from The Charles W. Garfield Story by Mary Emily Schroeder (available at the Grand Rapids Public Library)

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