Thousands of drivers pass an overlooked gravesite along West River Drive in Comstock Park likely without ever giving it a second thought.

The grave site belongs to the family of Michael Smith who passed away in the Civil War era of the 1860s. Several members of his family are burried in the plot.

Some who have noticed the gravesite in the 5300 block of West River certainly get curious about it. The gravesite has been discussed several times on social media on a historic cemeteries group and by a museum in Belmont where volunteers occasionally look to the upkeep of the plot earning the thanks for the family. One family member sharing, "Thank you Susan, for helping to preserve history and treat the family buried there with respect. My ancestor Michael Smith, his wife, Ellen, and two of their grandchildren are buried there."

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A descendant of Michael Smith, Hiram, inherited and later sold the property.

Hiram lived with his parents on the farm and when he married he brought his bride to their home, and raised his family there until 1874, when he sold the property to James Hayes, making a note on the deed, of the exception of the "family burial ground" on that property. That was to always remain separate from all future sales of the property, and to be known as the Smith burial ground.

That provision on the sale regarding the exemption of the family burial ground has clearly passed from owner to owner.

The plot exists between the shoulder of West River Drive and the parking lot of a landscape management company. It's easy to identify surrounded by wrought iron fencing that does appear out of place and time.

Check out more West Michigan Cemetery Lore:

Alto: The Town Without a Cemetery

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