Did You Know About These 7 Famous People Buried in West Michigan?
Did you know that West Michigan serves as the final resting place for a list of famous people?
Okay, I know...it's a bit of a morbid subject. But, some of these people are big names. Presidents, even. Here are at least 7 famous (and semi-famous) people buried in West Michigan:
1. Gerald R. Ford. - Grand Rapids
Did you know that the 38th President of the United States changed his name when he was young? Or, rather, his mother changed his name for him. His original name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr. Ford went on to graduate from the University of Michigan and, of course, eventually became the President of the United States. While Ford was born in Nebraska, he was raised in Grand Rapids which is why it became his final resting place.
2. Betty Ford - Grand Rapids
Elizabeth "Betty" Ford came to Grand Rapids with her family at the age of 2 and eventually became the First Lady alongside the above-mentioned former President Gerald R. Ford. Betty actually attended a dance school in Vermont before returning to Grand Rapids to become an assistant to a fashion coordinator of a local department store. She earned her reputation as "the most candid First Lady" by being very vocal about her pro-choice opinions and her outspoken advocacy of equal rights.
3. Sojourner Truth - Battle Creek
Born Isabella Baumfree, Sojourner Truth has become a symbol of the pioneering for women's rights. In fact, in 2020 a statue was unveiled in Central Park featuring Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. However, Sojourner first gained notoriety for successfully winning a lawsuit against a white man to regain custody of her son. Something that was absolutely unheard of in the 1820s. Sojourner was a slave. And, at the time, children born in slavery were automatically considered the property of the slave master. Makes you sick just thinking about it, doesn't it? After emancipation passed in New York, Sojourner was able to track down a son she had to leave behind and sued for custody. Her life, from touring and speaking at abolitionist rallies to recruiting soldiers for the Civil War, is truly inspirational. Read more here.
Most Famous in West Michigan
1. John Harvey Kellogg - Battle Creek
Is that Anthony Hopkins and NOT an actual picture of John Kellogg? Yes. Unfortunately, with legalities, this is the closest I could get to using an actual picture of Kellogg. It's a still shot from the 1994 film, The Road to Wellville which, semi-inaccurately, portrays the daily workings of the sanitarium that Kellogg was in charge of. He had a long list of unique ideas of how to maintain one's health. That included abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, a reduction in sexual activity, and a strict vegetarian diet. Of course, John Kellogg is most well known for his invention of the corn flakes alongside his brother, Will Keith Kellogg. See a trailer for The Road to Wellville below:
2. Will Keith Kellogg - Battle Creek
Inventor of the cornflake and founder of the Kellogg Cereal Company and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Will Keith Kellogg was born in Battle Creek and worked closely with his brother for a time. He acted as a bookkeeper for the sanitarium and he and his brother, John, founded the Sanitas Food Company. They worked together for 9 years before parting ways after Will suggested adding a sugar coating to the cornflakes. That's when the W. K. Kellogg Company was born. While Will Kellogg became a millionaire, he still lived a rather modest life with the exception of his Arabian horses that he apparently had a passion for. He lived to be 91 years old.
3. C.W. Post - Battle Creek
Speaking of cereal, another founder of a cereal company, C.W. Post is also buried in West Michigan. Although he made his name by founding his cereal company, Post actually worked as a salesman selling farm equipment and in real estate beforehand. He eventually landed in Texas where he purchased over 200,000 acres of land with plans to use the land for agricultural development. Check out this old-school ad for his cereal from 1978:
Slightly Less Famous But Still Worth Talking About
1. Junior Walker - Battle Creek
Junior Walker was an R&B singer and saxophonist who formed the band Junior and the All Stars in the 1960s. Their most famous song was said to be Shotgun. They went on to record their final album in 1983 titled Blow Down the House. While Junior Walker, born Autry Mixon, was born in Arkansas his final resting place is in Battle Creek, MI. Check out their hit Shotgun below:
You can find every "famous" person buried, not just in Michigan, but across the country thanks to FindaGrave.com.
Finding out some of these big names are buried in our own backyard (well, not literally but you know what I mean) may be surprising. But, not as surprising as finding out that you're featured on Google Maps...