If you find yourself in Lewiston, Michigan and near the intersection of County Road 612 and Junction 489/491 take County 612 going east for 3.3 miles, you will see Albert Township cemetery on the left, North side of the road. This is only where our journey begins. From here, we are going to take a dirt road that leads us behind the cemetery and opens onto a clearing. In this clearing we find a single lilac bush, that to many may seem to be out of place. There are no other lilac bush in this area, only one. I'm sure many have wondered about the way that this single lilac bush made it's way into the forest, today I will tell that story.
I referenced a photo I found of a lilac bush, in a previous blog post called Road Trip Through Our Family History. In today's blog post, I will share with you the beautiful and sad story about the planting of this bush and the continued impact that it has had on my family.
In my earlier post, I mentioned that the location of this special lilac bush is one that we visited with my grandparents Alexander and Edna Jean (Burt) McKenzie. These trips made up some of my favorite childhood memories and I will cherish them forever.
On February 15, 1908 a baby girl was born to Ernest and Lavina (Hawley) Burt. The girl's name was Lenora Evelyn Burt and she was the first child born to this new family. Unfortunately, God had other plans for this little angel. Lenora was born underdeveloped and malnourished and passed away the same day.
As you can see by looking at the death certificate for Lenora, the place of burial is only listed as Albert Township and the undertaker is listed as "the father E.N. Burt". Lenora was not laid to rest in the Albert Township cemetery, but instead in a clearing behind the cemetery underneath a newly planted lilac bush. 107 years later, this lilac bush still stands as the only grave marker for a precious angel that left this world way to soon.
This lilac bush has been a part of our family history for over 100 years, but the history hasn't stopped at one location in the woods of Lewiston. Parts of this same lilac bush have been transplanted to the homes of family members. The two photos below are photos of bushes from Lenora's lilac bush at the former home of Edna Jean (Burt) McKenzie, the youngest sister of Lenora, in Ossineke, Alpena, Michigan and the home of Terry McKenzie, Lenora's great nephew, in Maple Ridge Township, Michigan.
From the sad day that a beautiful baby girl was laid to rest under a seedling lilac bush to the wonderful childhood memories brought to mind of road trips with our grandparents, this one lilac bush has become a wonderful piece of my family's history and I don't see that ever changing. With this blog post, I honor all those memories, both beautiful and sad, as well as, the short life of a little angel, probably still looking down upon us today. I would like to believe, that these lilac bushes continue to flourish and grow with the help of a little angel from above named Lenora.
A big thank you goes out to my mother Linda, who took the photo in 1988, that inspired this post, as well as, to my cousin Heather and Brother Tom, who provided me with current day photos. Without you, I would not have been able to share this wonderful part of our family's history.
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My name is Rebecca Walbecq. My maiden name is McKenzie. My Genealogy journey began about 15 years ago after talking to my grandma about her family. The spark was lit and since then genealogy has become my passion!