Jurisdiction: Lake Township Section 30
Location: Southwest corner of California Road and Snow Road
Cemetery Governing Body: Lake Township
Location of Cemetery Records: Lake Township Hall, Bridgman
Size: 0.7 acres
California School Cemetery has the appearance of a typical old cemetery and “Old Glory” still has a place to fly among the Civil War Veterans. Most of the stones are crumbled and broken, unreadable and worn with time.
From “The History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan” by D. W. Ensign and Company published in 1880:
"The cemeteries of the township are small...the first cemetery opened in 1850 and the next was opened three years later at the Phillips Schoolhouse"
The earliest burial that is legible appears to be of two young children. The surname is unreadable but their first names are John T. F. and Mary A. W. Both were buried in October of 1855 at the ages of 3 years and 1 year, respectively. The most recent burial is that of 3-month and 28-day old Willie Mead who was laid to rest on September 13, 1970. He was the son of N. & N. O. Mead. Up to that point, the most recent burial was in 1891 and ironically was Charles H. Mead, who died at 8 years old. Of the 62 visible stones, family names such as Mead, Murray, Snowwhite and Whipple stand out. By looking at the dates listed on the stones, the majority of those buried in California School Cemetery are young children.
Appearing on the Lake Township Plat Map for 1903, California School Cemetery bordered the Julia Finnegan property to the South, Mary Whipple property to the East, J. W. Rokeley property to the North and the William William’s property to the West.
Written by Chriss Lyon