Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 2, 1994, pg. 6
A reminder to our readers: This Sunday, October 2 at 1 p.m., I will be giving a guided tour of the southern portion of Riverside Cemetery. We will cover 50 selected interments of mostly 20th century Albion people, some of whom you might remember. The event is free, and is sponsored by the Albion Public Schools community enrichment program. Bring the whole family and we’ll spend an enjoyable afternoon together. We will meet at the Veteran’s Memorial on the south side of the cemetery.
If you visit Riverside Cemetery, you will occasionally notice tombstones of people “who never died.” They are 120, 130, and even 140 years old and still living in right here in Albion! Well, that’s what you might believe by looking at their tombstones: there is no death date! This somewhat touchy subject is a study in itself, as each family has its own reason, excuses, and circumstances surrounding the unfortunate unfinished condition of the final resting place of their ancestors, who once were some of Albion’s prominent citizens.
I wrote about this topic a year ago in this column, but in preparing this year’s cemetery tour, I came across some more “people who never died.”
Using this as an example, there is a woman named Julia McCune whose tombstone in Riverside Cemetery indicates she hasn’t died yet. It states “1898-19__.” Let’s review the accomplishments of this Albion woman to see if she deserves to have her death date on her tombstone.
Julia McCune was born in Parma in 1898, and moved to Albion with her family in 1911. She was a 1915 graduate of Albion High School, and a 1919 graduate of Albion College. She taught high school at various locations during the 1920s, and in 1929 received a master’s degree from Columbia University.
Julia McCune began teaching at Albion College as an associate professor of English. She was a well known poet, and for many years was poetry editor of “The Anchora,” the magazine of the Delta Gamma sorority. She was chairperson of the judges of statewide poetry contests sponsored by the Michigan State Federation of Women’s Clubs, and in 1947 was the chairperson of the state creative writing contest.
She served as president of the Albion branch of the AAUW from 1935 to 1937, and the Albion College Faculty Women’s League from 1949 to1950. She was president of the Albion Historical Society in its early years, from 1956 to 1958. She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the E.L.T. Club, and the First United Methodist Church.
She was very popular in the Albion area as a book reviewer. It was Julia McCune who hosted a special luncheon for short-story writer and Albion native Helen Hull in 1939 at the Parker Inn. She was also very active in community fundraising efforts from 1946 to 1958.
Julia McCune retired from Albion College in 1964, after teaching there for 35 years. When she died in 1982 at the age of 83, she had only one surviving relative, a cousin living in Jersey.
And now her tombstone sits unfinished. There is no relative to take care of the matter, and pay the funds to have the last two death date digits sandblasted in the stone. Too bad. Miss McCune will be one of the stops on our tour October 2. Perhaps one of the organizations she belonged to or perhaps the Albion College English Department could take this on as a project? [INTERNET UPDATE: The Albion College English Department and friends subsequently took up a collection after the publication of this article and had Miss McCune’s tombstone properly finished with a death date]
In addition to McCune, I have discovered several other tombstones of “people who never died,” in addition to the list I published last year in this column. They are: Nellie Blye Seymour 1882-19??; Mae F. Lewis 1868-19??; Netta Brownell 1883-19??; Berth Titman 1861-????; Emma A. Wright 1837-19??; Iva L. Titman 1872-19??; David K. Titman 1865-19??; Fred L. Crane 1851-????; Eva L. Lewis 1853-????; Mabel L. Kusch 1887-19??; William H. Bowman 1869-19??; Charles E. Lewis 1943-????; Lydia (Doolittle) Wheat 1847-19??; James Lewis 1844-????; Myrtle Parrish 1882-19??; E.O. Delbridge 1849-????; and Frederic S. Bell 1878-19?? Any relatives/descendants of these people out there? Call the Riverside Cemetery office to see how you can help get the death date placed on the tombstone, at (517) 629-2479.
My list from last year, which I am repeated as a way of reminder, consists of these “people who never died:” Pearl M. Allison 1888-19??; Henrietta J. A. Ashdown 1862-??; Eleanor T. Avann 1849-??; Mildred H. Chapman 1883-??; Ada R. E. Clark 1850-??; Ella Cole 1854-????; Lucian M. Finley 1894-??; Emil Hahn 1886-??; Louis Earl 1895-??; Kathryn “Kate” Ludlow Davis 1887-??; Emily Eckmyre 1865-??; Lewis R. Key 1857-??; Eleta Key 1892-??; Bertha Nass 1872-??; Mae H. Kimler 1885-??; Flora A. Knickerbocker 1848-??; Rosetta Lincoln 1836-??; May L. Wolcott 1865-??; Blanche L. Wolfinger 1881-?? M. M. Phelps 1867-?? Dorothy D. Robinson 1912-??; R. K. VanNuys 1854-??; and Mary R. Fanning 1860-19??
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Miss Julia McCune.
Miss Julia McCune
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic