Jurisdiction: Benton Township Sections 28 & 29
Location: 1655 East Napier, East Napier Avenue at Crystal Avenue
Cemetery Governing Body: Benton Township
Location of Cemetery Records: Crystal Springs Cemetery Office
Crystal Springs Cemetery is a very large cemetery with what appears to be much room for expansion. Known as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the county with many large monuments honoring those that have gone before. Especially noticeable is the number of veteran’s memorials and sections reserved for those that answered the calling when their country was in need since the time of the civil war.
Just inside the main entrance is a stone with a plaque, which reads:
“The beauty of this cemetery is in the larger sense a monument to the vision and labor of Herman C. Vogt, Superintendent of Crystal Springs from 1921 to 1953 and to the cooperation of the various boards under whom he served. This memorial presented in 19__ by Fruit Belt Chapter of High Twelve International in memory of a valued and well loved member.”
The entrance on the east side of cemetery leading onto Crystal Avenue bears two signs:
“John O. Emerson Memorial Entrance presented by his wife Addie Emerson”
The other sign reads:
“Crystal Springs Cemetery founded 1893.”
This entrance is no longer in use and is locked.
A large memorial was erected in 1946 to honor the seven firefighters from Benton Harbor that perished trying to put out the Yore Opera house fire. This stone monument reads:
“In Memory of the brave fireman who gave their lives in performance of duty at the Yore Opera House in Benton Harbor on Sunday morning Sept 6, 1896. William Mittan, John Hoffman, Louis Hoffman, Scott Rice, Franklin Woodley, William McCormick, Thomas Kidd”
A monument to the five St. Joseph firefighters that perished is on the bluff in downtown St. Joseph near the Whitcomb Tower and the Band Shell.
A 5-inch British field artillery piece sits in the center of a circle of veterans with a plaque stating:
“James V. Schairer Circle dedicated to the memory of veterans of all wars by Twin Cities Post No. 1459 Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States 1933”
An article in the Herald Press dated Sunday, November 17, 1934 stated that the memorial would be officially dedicated the following day to this fallen hero. James Schairer was the first local individual that was killed in action in World War I. He died of wounds received at the Battle of the Argonne in Belgium on October 30, 1918. His death followed shortly after he received the Croix de Geurre from the French government in appreciation for his devotion to duty in the face of death. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive September 26th through October 1st, he had rescued two wounded men from the front lines and carried them to the safety of a dugout. He then administered first aid all under enemy fire. After his death his father was given his Distinguished Service Cross that would have been given to him. James Schairer was buried with military honors Denterghen, West Flanders. The brothers and sisters of this fallen hero donated the plaque in Crystal Springs below the artillery piece.
Not far from this memorial is a very large stone tower. One side of this tower bears the following:
“Tower of Remembrance erected to god to commemorate the virtues of the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States of America.”
Another plaque reads:
“The melody ringing forth from this Memorial Tower is a monument to the memory of Lillian Bishop, 1902-1985. It is a testimony to her leadership, and untiring effort on behalf of all Veterans, that their families, and this cemetery. This plaque was placed by VFW Post 1137, the Ladies Auxiliary, and Crystal Springs Cemetery.”
Written By David Barricklow
The BCGS is in the process of indexing and verifying the burials in this cemetery. With over 25,000 interments, this is a long-term project and the results will be posted when available.