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Friends of Pine Ridge Cemetery to Sponsor 5th Annual Memorial Day Event

First Rotary Club Walking Tour, Tributes to Churches, Bishop Birney on Tap

May 23, 2004       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Mrs. Virginia Birney, wife of Rt. Rev. David Bell Birney IV, helps unveil State of Michigan historic marker at First Presbyterian Church in 2001 listing tribute to church founder James G. Birney, Bay City pioneer.
Volunteers have begun clearing an overgrown section of Historic Pine Ridge Cemetery, a five acre burial ground that has been abandoned since 1931.

      A booming cannon shot will herald the fifth annual Memorial Day event, noon Monday, May 31, at Historic Pine Ridge Cemetery, corner Tuscola and Ridge roads.

      The skirling of bagpiper Harry Farris and music by guitarist Tommy Anderson will set the stage for the events of the day at Bay City's pioneer and Civil War burial ground.

      The program will include a tribute to the "Birney Churches," the four churches aided in establishment by James G. Birney and/or members of his family. These churches are First Presbyterian, Trinity Episcopal, St. Stanislaus and St. Mary.

      A tribute also will be offered in memory of the late Rt. Rev. David Bell Birney IV, bishop of Idaho and associate bishop of Massachusetts, who died in February.

      Donors and volunteers who have "rescued" the cemetery from abandonment also will be recognized at the event, along with researchers who continue to update information about historic burials and other facts about early Bay City history.

Special recognition will go this year to the Bay Area Community Foundation, Osthelder Fund, which donated a storage shed, and to Doug Wirt, Larry Loll and Pyramid Asphalt, for installation of a Wirt stonecrete road, Green Hut Charities for donation of signs and the Rotary Club of Bay City for the walking tour and beautification project sponsorship.

      Student volunteers from Students United of the United Way of Bay County and the Lutheran Children's Home also will be honored for their work in maintaining the five acre cemetery.

      The inaugural Rotary Club Walking Tour of 13 significant graves in the cemetery, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bay City, will follow the recognition and memorial services. Tour brochures will be available later this summer through the Bay County Historical Museum.

      The historic cemetery has become a popular attraction, drawing hundreds of tourists each year. During the Tall Ships celebration last year some 900 persons visited the cemetery on tour buses.

      The most significant attractions are the Grand Army of the Republic monument and about 120 graves or memorials to Civil War veterans and the grave of Judge James Birney, who served as prosecuting attorney, circuit judge, state senator, lieutenant governor and U.S. minister to the Hague in the Netherlands.

      Friends of Historic Pine Ridge Cemetery is an informal group of supporters of the restoration of the five acre cemetery. Supporting memberships are available through the Bay County Historical Society, with which the Friends group is affiliated.

      Volunteers gather Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., weather permitting, to maintain the cemetery. For more information contact Dave or Dolores Rogers, 686-5544.###


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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
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