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Mt. Bethel Cemetery survey

May 21, 2014 - Groveland Twp.-On April 14, the township board voted 5-0 to pay up to $500 for Clarkston-based Kieft Engineering to map the Mt. Bethel Cemetery.

Township officials say markers at the cemetery, which date back to the early 1800s, have been damaged over the years. Many stones have been vandalized and removed over the years. Last year the board of trustees closed the Mt. Bethel Cemetery to any future burials due to the uncertainty of actual plot locations.

"I hate relying on maps and diagrams from the 1930s for accuracy," said David Ax, township treasurer. "But, if a family requests a transfer to the Mt. Bethel Cemetery or come in with a claim they own a plot, we'll have to honor that. We just don't want any possible confusion."

Engineers will use existing documents and GPS to locate the plots in the cemetery. However, the use of ground-penetrating radar to make sense of incomplete records and find forgotten graves beneath the ground is just not cost effective.

"The cost is about $1,300 to search underground," added Ax. "However, there's still no gaurantee what is under the ground is a casket or a vault. It would just be an object underground."

The board oversees two township cemeteries— in addition to Mt. Bethel (Jossman Road), the Olive Branch Cemetery North Holly Road on the southwest corner of the township is also under their jurisdiction. The Olive Branch Cemetery has about 200 graves, some dating back to about 1850, and includes Civil War era markers.

According to Michigan Compiled Laws, if the cemetery is not owned by an association, it then becomes the responsibility of the township to properly take care of the property.

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