Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 27, 2009, pg. 5
While preparing my annual Riverside Cemetery tour each year, I occasionally come across an interesting inscription which prompts me to do some additional research. This year’s tour will include a 4-year-old boy, Donald Richardson Dungey (1917-1922). Donald was the son of Emory & Marguerite (Richardson) Dungey who lived at 114 N. Eaton St. near the Kalamazoo River. The family was part of our local African-American community.
On June 7, 1922, Donald’s 2-year-old sister fell into the nearby River just west of the N. Eaton St. bridge, along what today is the Washington St. Park. Donald jumped in to save his sister, but sank. Two other children who were also present also jumped into save the two, and were also in danger of drowning. Two adults from nearby houses then arrived on the scene, and everyone was saved but Donald who drowned.
Of course across the street was the Albion Gas-Light Company, which produced manufactured gas. This site eventually became SEMCO energy which sits there today. You may have noticed environmental people conducting pollution tests and samplings around SEMCO and the N. Eaton St. bridge in recent months. The news reports back there in 1922 gives a clue about what was deposited into the River in that area.
It was reported that the “Search for the body of Donald was started at once. A number of men waded the river below the scene of the tragedy while others secured boats and canoes. The body was finally located by Frank Sanders, local young man...he dove and recovered the remains with difficulty, owing to the fact that the body was held to the bottom of the river by a quantity of tar from the gas works, which is located just upstream on the north side of the river.”
From our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of the tombstone of Donald Dungey in Block 86 of Riverside Cemetery. The inscription states, “Donald Dungey 1917-1922. Gave his life in the Kazoo River and saved his baby sister Donna.” Donna (1920-1953) is interred in Block 128, while Donald is interred next to his mother (1891-1923), the daughter of William and Luella (Washington) Richardson.
The Tombstone of Donald Dungey (1917-1922)
Next: WILLARD DURKEE
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic