Finding a grave at Fairview Cemetery has gotten even easier.
Logging onto fairviewcemeterybrownstown.org, people can click on the “Locator” tab and type in a name. They will likely find a photo of the headstone, a photo and an obituary if available. If the person served in the military, a logo of their branch of military service will be shown if it is known. Otherwise, the U.S. flag will be displayed.
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Also, for the ones with obituaries, people can now print a version of it in a PDF format.
“When we started in 2012, we did search genealogy for obituaries. We couldn’t find any for certain years. Now, we’ve got a website to go to and find obits back as far as 1860, and that’s going to help us out,” Jim Phillips recently told the Brownstown Town Council while giving the cemetery board’s annual activity report.
Phillips is in the process of adding the old sections of the cemetery to the website, which was redone in the fall of 2018.
He hopes to have that completed sometime in June or July.
“The old sections weren’t on the original website,” he said. “They were laid out by sections, and so we spent all this summer going through those sections and picked up over 1,000 graves that we know about, and we’ve got a recording of it, and I’m installing templates in the computer now for that website. It’s a full-time job. It really is.”
While it may take a lot of time, Phillips said accuracy is important. In 1993, he said a couple of local groups surveyed the 25.6-acre cemetery to pick out information and made a book out of it. When he started surveying the cemetery eight years ago to start the website, however, he saw the groups missed graves.
“This can’t happen,” he said. “If you go out there and do it, you’ve got to do it right because there are too many chances for error.”
Phillips put the book aside and started from scratch, creating a new chart and updating burial files.
Each year, he presents an updated copy of the book to Clerk-Treasurer David Willey, who keeps it in a secure place at Brownstown Town Hall, and gives an annual report to the council.
“The cemetery board says that’s priceless,” Phillips said, noting the book includes every burial at the cemetery back to 1790 broken up by section and put in alphabetical order.
There also is a map that was created of section.
“In the old days, you had pen and pencil, and this is what you get now,” Phillips said.
He said the website averages 80 hits a month, and many people have either called him or Superintendent Dwight Wischmeier with information.
Also with the annual report, Phillips said they sold 15 lots for $650 apiece, totaling $9,750, and collected $6,600 in maintenance fees. As a government entity, the cemetery board exists as a nonprofit organization with all funds received from the sale of gravesites and maintenance fees returned to the town.
There also were two lot transfers in 2019. Phillips they are receiving more inquiries about those.
“If you own a lot you want to sell back to the cemetery, we pay you exactly what you paid for it. If you bought that in 1984 and you paid $12 for it, you get $12 for it. You don’t make any money,” he said. “If you decide to sell a lot to a neighbor and you want to give it to him, you can give it to your neighbor, but you really don’t make anything if you paid $650 for a lot today.”
All but two of the cemetery’s sections are filled up, Phillips said. One has 91 lots available, and the other one has 98.
In 2019, Phillips said they did 33 burials, down from 44 the previous year.
The town council members expressed their thanks to the cemetery board.
“I appreciate all of the time that you guys put into it. We appreciate you coming in and getting us all up to date,” said Councilman Mark Reynolds, who serves as a liaison to the cemetery board.
“Thank you very much for all of your hard work,” Councilwoman Sharon Koch said.
On the Web
Visit Fairview Cemetery’s website at fairviewcemeterybrownstown.org.