Big Prairie-Everett Township Cemetery
The Big Prairie-Everett Cemetery lacks but a single year of being as old as Newaygo County itself. Newaygo County was formally established in early 1851 and Big Prairie Township (which at that time included what later became Everett Township) in March, 1852.  Due to the significance of this cemetery the following article has been submitted about its history which also weaves with the history of the township.
   According to the abstract covering the parcel occupied by the cemetery, Ephraim Utley secured this part of his holdings, by patent, from Joseph Pitman, a soldier. The original deed bears the name of President Zachary Taylor and was dated 1847. Utley  moved here in 1848 and built a frame house.  During 1849 and 1850 numerous others settled around the prairie: William S. Utley, Aaron Swain, Ben Olney, Alexander Balziel, Walter and Emerson Bonny, James and William Barton, Theodore Taylor, James Gibbs, to mention a few.
   Ephraim Utley helped to organize the first school in this area in 1851. This school was located on section 18 of Big Prairie Township, being  ab out in the center of the section. The schoolhouse was built which would last 25-30 years. The building was sided with boards placed vertically, The  floor and seats were of hewn logs. As erosion of the prairie took over, most of the families migrated and the school was moved to a more central location. The building remained and due to its adjacency to the cemetery, was used for funerals and church purposes. As aforementioned the building came to be known as a funeral chapel. Later, this school burned and a new one was built on the west side of the section, where the Union Church later stood. Ephraim Utley remained on the prairie for 23 years and to this day, a certain crossroads on the prairie is called "Utley's Corners".
   In 1851, William S Utley married Martha Gooch and moved to a log cabin across the road from where the now cemetery is located.  One year later Martha Gooch died and William's cousin Ephraim Utley, suggested that Martha be buried in his cornfield on a knoll which now constitutes the original portion of the cemetery. Therefore, Martha Helen Utley became the first resident of the cemetery in July 1852.  Mr. Utley then conveyed this land to the township to be used as a permanent cemetery. Eventually, the two township boards, numerous interested individuals and the Cemetery Society, the Big Prairie-Everett Cemetery came to be one of the outstanding rural burial grounds in Western Michigan.

Township Cemetery
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