Sitting on a quiet hillside on the south side of Foreman Street between Cumberland and Alden Nash Avenue is the peaceful Wright Cemetery. Named for the family who settled on the land, this small cemetery is still open for burials today.
Joseph Wright brought his family to Michigan from New York in 1840, settling on Section four in Lowell Township. Joseph is included in the ‘citizen sketches’ in Chapman’s 1881 History of Kent County. The Wrights were part of the Zion Methodist Episcopal (German) Church in Lowell and funeral services were held there.
Many Wrights and family members are buried here. Daughter Louisa married David Shear. David had served in Co C of the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics as an artificer. Both are buried here along with several children who died while young.
There are always stories that touch your heart. Wright Cemetery has many, including three-year- old Guy Pant who died in 1890 of diphtheria. In 1903 the newspaper describes Jessie Coonrod’s death. “It came as a thunderbolt from a clear sky last Monday evening. Full of life and glee, she was romping with some young friends when she suddenly sank to the floor and with a few gasps expired.” Determined to be ‘internal hemorrhage, due to rupture of a blood vessel of the heart from over exertion.
This small cemetery is the resting place for immigrants who began their journey through life an ocean away. Christian, Marianna and Andrew Althaus were born in Switzerland, along with Jacob, Frederick and Rosetta Althaus Fuss, and Maria Althaus Roth. Pier (Peter) and Pietje (Nellie) Fopma were both born in Huns, Littenseradiel Municipality, Friesland, Netherlands. Walter Skarpinski was born in Poland before coming to the United States.
Marianna and Christian Althaus homesteaded where the Flat River Outreach Ministries and Fountain View properties on Fulton Street are today. The ancient pine tree in front is the only reminder of those days. They were the great-great grandparents of Museum Curator and Educator Luanne Kaeb and siblings, and Museum Volunteer and Board Member Dale Kropf and siblings. Others in Lowell who claim the same relationship have the last name of Wittenbach, Roth, Clemenz and Fuss.
Frederick and Rosetta Althaus Fuss were Dale and Luanne’s great grandparents. They farmed and operated a Brown Swiss dairy across the road from Wright Cemetery at 11901 Foreman St. The original cement silo, milk house and barn still stand.
In addition to David Shear, some of the veterans buried here include: Ralph Carrier- Pvt US Army World War II, Nathan Carrier- SA US Navy, Walter Skarpinski - Army. In 2019 a much loved husband, father and soldier, SSgt Brandon Joseph Prysock was buried here. He had received the Army Commendation Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
In 1990 vandals attacked the Wright Cemetery. Lowell Granite owner and craftsman John Wilterink spent several days working to repair the damage, re-leveling, resealing and setting up monuments.
History can be found all around us, not just inside books. A cemetery contains the stories of those who rest there. Even the smallest of cemeteries contain important stories.