Local man helps keep history, ‘set in stone?

Groveland Twp.? Their names are synonymous with the church where they prayed.
Bird, Cogshall and Ogden are just a few of the Mt. Bethel Church members now buried at the 160-year-old church cemetery near Jossman and Bald Eagle Lake roads in the rolling Groveland countryside. They founded the church, cleared the forests and were pioneers in Groveland, many arriving prior to Michigan was established as a state.
Yet, despite efforts to maintain the cemetery and its monuments to the past’weather, vandalism and age have taken their toll on the historical site.
Cemetery plot maps indicate about 90 established grave sites at the cemetery with a few unknown or unoccupied. Of those sites about 30 stones are scattered near the graves, missing or piled in a corner of the cemetery. Other markers have deteriorated and are nearly illegible.
‘We even found some stones dumped across the road in the ditch,? said Charles Wolfe, owner of Wolfe Lawn Care who mows and maintains the cemetery for Groveland Township.
‘I’ve been taking care of the cemetery since about 1997 and would like to help keep this place together.?
Once a cemetery is considered full, like Mt. Bethel the maintenance becomes the responsibility of the local municipality, in this case Groveland Township. With the exception of two plots marked ‘poor lots,? nearly every grave is occupied according to records.
So Wolfe, a retired General Motors employee, requested township approval to repair some of the old tombstones that were either broken off or separated from their graves. Some of the stones had been repaired before since signs of an adhesive were found near some of the cracks.
Craig Keefer manager of County Oaks Landscape Supply Company, 3964 Seymour Lake Road says with the help of a new silicone glue product called Nuflex-313 the stones can be reattached and preserved.
‘Technology has changed a lot over the past 30 years,? said Keefer, who has worked with stones during the past 20 years. ‘The old products similar to liquid nails, work great until the frost hits and it comes apart.?
‘This new product will work with a very fast drying time.?
According to Keefer, many of the old tombstones were made of sandstone which is easy to engrave yet does not hold up to the weather. Granite and other more dense stones are used today for monuments.
Despite the rather dilapidated markers, the church and cemetery have endured, remaining established in the history of the community.
In 1933 Maurine Scramlin recalls attending the small county church and cemetery in rural Groveland Township.
‘We didn’t have electricity then, although much of the surrounding area did,? said Scramlin, now 87. ‘I was about 16 (years old) at the time and I attended Sunday School at the church.?
Scramlin is one of oldest members of the church established in about 1840. That same year Mt. Bethel Cemetery was established along with a log church holding about 160 people constructed on the site of the present church grounds. The Sunday School program was started by Bela Cogshall (buried in the cementery) who was also one of the family of pioneers in Groveland. In 1870 a New England style church was constructed. However, during an electrical storm on the morning of July 14,1947 the church was struck by lightning and it burned to the ground. The new church was constructed in 1949 which exists today.