Unmarked Grand Master Graves – At Rest, but are they at Peace?

The recent discovery of a second unmarked grave of a Michigan Past Grand Master has had me wondering how many more might be discovered as the project to document each PGM’s grave continues.  The first discovery was that of PGM Hatheway’s grave in Fulton Street Cemetery in Grand Rapids.  His grave had eluded discovery for so long because of a misspelling of his name in the city records and also slight ‘haze’ in the city records themselves as to the exact location of his grave.

Oddly, his wife is buried in a marked grave in another area of the cemetery next to her father William P. Innes, PGM.  The discovery of Hatheway started me thinking that one natural conclusion of the project would be to secure a suitable marker for his grave so that the anonymity of burial would cease.

The issue took on another nuance more recently when a second PGM buried in the Grand Rapids area was discovered to be in an unmarked grave.  The burial of Edwin L. Bowring, PGM (1895) is not quite as anonymous at Hatheway’s in that he is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in an unmarked grave adjacent to his wife, Alice, who is herself buried beneath a very nice stone marker.  Bowring had eluded location for reasons very similar to Hatheway.  His unusual last name was misspelled in city records as it was for his wife.  The correct spelling is clear from our records and her marker.

Though his wife is recognized, a similar urge exists to eventually explore securing a suitable marker for PGM Bowring or perhaps a modification to Alice’s marker in some sufficient way, rules permitting.

It seems premature to put much effort forth on either grave until the survey of all Past Grand Master’s Graves is complete.  That way any other graves found to be without suitable markers may be addressed as a group.  There is precedent for the Grand Lodge to consider such an effort.  Several years ago it was believed that PGM Coffinbury was at rest in an unmarked grave.  The Grand Lodge went so far as to consider budgeting monies to correct this issue when it was at last learned that his body had been removed from the grave it was believed to be in and removed back East where it was reinterred under a suitable marker.  The issue became moot.

At present it just leaves me asking the question:  PGMs Hatheway and Bowring are at rest, but are they truly at peace?  I hope to answer that question someday.

-RIW

Category(s): Rick's Masonic History Blog

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