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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

ER man unearths old gravestone in his backyard

By Deb Malewski

Contributing columnist

— Imagine the shock of finding a gravestone in your backyard. My first thought would be “If I lift it up, will there be bones underneath?”

This is what happened recently to Levi Polihonki, who lives on Water Street in Eaton Rapids. Last year, he tore down a circa-1925 stone shed on his property. He believes the shed was probably built when the house was. He and his wife have been rehabbing their house for six years, Polihonki explained. This year, while grading the land where the shed had stood, his blade hit stone.

The marble slab was covered by five to ten inches of dirt, Polihonki said.

“I tossed it to the side, thinking it was just another block from the garage, initially. But then the corner of the stone broke, and I saw that it was white, which really caught my eye. I took my hand and brushed the mud off. And I saw the word ‘die.’ I hosed it off with water to see what it really was.”

The stone reads:

Christiana North   

Wife of Joseph E. North

DIED Aug 11, 1854

aged 65 years & 7 months

Dismissed, I calmly go

my way which leads me to

the tomb

The last line is from an old hymn. At the top of the stone is a willow tree, which is associated with life after death and immortality.

One of the first things Polihonki did was contact his mother about his discovery. She did a quick search online and discovered that Christiana North wasn’t just an average person. Christiana North and her family were some of the early settlers of Lansing, according to “MIGenWeb” — a well-respected genealogy site.

Christiana Teeter (born in 1789) and Joseph E. North (born in 1791), both from Pennsylvania, were married December 18, 1813, in Lansing, New York. They had 12 children. North’s father, Thomas North, had purchased land in the township of Lansing, New York, which had been set aside for soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Joseph North served in the War of 1812 and was taken prisoner on the Canadian frontier. One of their sons, Henry, was later responsible for the naming of the city of Lansing, based on their property in New York. The Norths settled in Lansing, Michigan, in 1839.

My initial concern about bones being buried underneath, as the actual grave of Mrs. North, was shared by Polihonki.

“When I realized what it was, I didn’t want to dig anymore,” he said.

Polihonki works as a site contractor on parking lots and underground utilities.

“I know if you come across a grave it turns into a big thing!”

Many people, back in the early days, were buried right at the family farm, so this was definitely a possibility.

But with a quick search at, I guessed that Mrs. North was not buried on Water Street. She was more than likely buried with the rest of her family in North Cemetery on Miller Road, in Lansing, which was named after her family. How her stone got to Eaton Rapids is the mystery.

I spoke with Shirley Hodges, local genealogy and cemetery expert.

“Sometimes people took them and made sidewalks with them,” she explained. Or possibly this tombstone was replaced for some reason.

I visited North Cemetery to see what was there. The North family members are located in the southwest section of the cemetery, as I was told by Loretta Stanaway of the Friends of the Lansing Cemeteries. One of the North family descendants is also involved in the organization.

The North family wasn’t hard to find, but due to age and weather, the stones were somewhat difficult to read. Most were broken and hard to read. Joseph North’s stone was almost completely erased, but his son Joseph North Jr., was in fairly good shape, having passed in 1851. There was no sign of a grave or marker there for Christiana North, although there was plenty of space for one.

Polihonki plans to return the stone to the North Cemetery to mark the grave of Christiana North and also plans on doing some restoration work on it to attach the two pieces back together.





Featured Story

Local artist reads, sketches clients’ auras

By Deb Malewski
– Contributing Writer

“An aura is a distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing or place,” according to a Google search. Dawn Baumer, an artist from Mason, explains that an aura to her is “the color of the energy that we radiate off our bodies.” Baumer said she can see those auras and uses her artistic ability to sketch her client with the colorful aura that she sees around him or her. She has started a business called “Aura Art and Readings,” where she looks at those auras and explains what she sees.

Baumer discovered her ability to see auras as a child when she learned to meditate in her karate class in Leslie. Instead of keeping her eyes closed, she confessed, she peeked. She saw brilliant colors radiating around everyone, she said. She didn’t tell anyone what she saw for a long time.

Everyone radiates energy from their body, Baumer explained.

“We can feel that energy when someone is too close to us, like when we are in line at the grocery store and someone is in our personal space,” she said. “The only difference with me is that I see it in color, and the colors tell me different things about a person and their personality.”
Because of her strong faith, her clients receive only positive connections with spirit and aura colors.

“I don’t do anything negative,” Baumer said. “I want to give people comfort, that the person they are missing is still there, watching over them.

“It’s the only reason I do it.”

Baumer does aura readings at a shop and spa known as Beyond a Dream, with locations in Brighton and Okemos, or by appointment. In addition to the reading, she creates a sketch of their aura.

“I use art to draw what I see, hear and feel. My goal is to bring healing and to show you the best of your spirit, how I see you.”

Sometimes a deceased family member will appear during these sessions, Baumer said.
Art has been a part of her whole life, Baumer said. She has done murals, cartoons, has illustrated several children’s books and has created logos for businesses. She also teaches painting and cartoon drawing.

“Anyone can draw, if taught in a positive way.”
Baumer is a featured artist at Comic Con, which is held annually at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University, teaching classes every 15 minutes.
Baumer wrote and illustrated her own book, “Dune Daze,” in 2005, and has illustrated another 17 books for others. Her illustrations were part of Mary E. Morgan’s “National Park Mysteries” series from Buttonwood Press, a series of eight books about American history and national parks.
Baumer can be contacted through Facebook.



Featured Story

Dimondale couple sports serious Campbell Soup collection

By Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

 —Dick and Barbara Kline of Dimondale collect Campbell Soup memorabilia and are expected to be featured on an upcoming History Channel show.

The couple estimate they have between 5,000 and 8,000 Campbell Soup items, almost all on display in their home. Some items date from the 1950s and some were manufactured more recently. Their collection is very neatly and professionally displayed on shelves and on their walls, from floor to ceiling.

The Klines are excited that they will soon be appearing on the History Channel’s new show, “Tasting History.” The show features a food expert, Old Smokey, and a collector, Josh Macuga. The two friends are out to discover and eat old and unique foods that have stood the test of time. The first episode is scheduled to air on Wednesday, March 25 at 10 p.m. The Klines are not yet sure when their episode will air but were told it will happen sometime within the next five weeks.

The History Channel crew spent 11 hours taping at the Kline’s home. Of particular interest to the tv crew was a small can of dehydrated potato soup from 1962. It was opened, prepared and eaten as part of the show. It opened with a vacuum-packed “whoosh” and tasted fine, Kline said. The Klines have an entire collection of small cans of soup that would have been in factory lunchrooms and diners.

They were also interviewed on Antiques Roadshow in the past about their collection, but the video was lost and never shown.

“Honey, we’re in trouble,” Dick said when they recently walked into a Lansing store and saw multiple Campbell Soup mugs for sale. They currently owned over 300 Campbell’s Soup mugs and added a few more to their collection that day.

The passion for Campbells started when Dick bought a Christmas ornament in 1980, and the collecting has grown from there.
“It makes me feel good he has an interest,” Barbara Kline said. She also pointed out that he is her favorite part of the collection. She also takes great interest in her husband’s hobby and started a Campbell Soup collector’s newsletter. It was a printed newsletter, and she had 250 subscribers at one point.

A green and white doll buggy from 1955 is Dick’s favorite piece in his collection.

“There are only three or four of these still in existence,” he explained. He has placed two Campbell Soup Kids dolls in the buggy.

Barbara pointed out a musical-go-round that plays the Campbell’s “Mmm, Mmm, Good!” song as her favorite piece in the collection.

“We have Campbell Soup plates and Campbell Soup pots and pans for our everyday use,” Barbara said.

Their collection includes dolls, mugs, plates, spice jars, cookie jars, music boxes, die cuts, soup tureens, clocks, metal signs, fabric, restaurant displays and much more.


Photo by Deb Malewski

Barbara and Dick Kline are shown holding their 1955 Campbell Soup doll buggy.

Eaton County

Eaton County

Featured Story

Eaton County tax foreclosures suspended

— Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson has suspended tax foreclosures of occupied properties and businesses and has extended the redemption period for property owners facing tax foreclosure in Eaton County until 2021.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Robinson. “The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented financial catastrophe for many homeowners, renters and business owners.

“Halting foreclosures on occupied properties is the best way to balance my responsibilities to state foreclosure law and to the citizens of Eaton County. We need to assist our households and businesses to get through this difficult time.”

Foreclosure for 2020 will continue for properties that pose a threat to public health, safety and welfare. Interest will continue to accrue on delinquent taxes.

Tax foreclosures in Eaton County have declined by 50 percent since 2013 — from a historical high of 60 to less than 30 in 2019.

Although the county treasurer’s office is closed to the public, all staff are working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with added safety precautions to help taxpayers work through their tax debts.

“Anyone having difficulties paying their delinquent property taxes should call us at 517-543-4262,” said Robinson.

Delinquent property taxes can also be paid by mail and online by credit card, debit card or e-check by going to the website at and following the “pay delinquent property taxes” link at the bottom of the page.

Article submitted by Eaton County Treasurer’s Office.



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Featured Story

CHS students learning job skills via recycling

By Carla Bumstead


— Students have been learning value job skills by getting real-world job experience as part of an on-going recycling program at Charlotte High School (CHS). Four years ago, teachers Tami Wilson and Ryan Guimont started looking into ways to give their students, all special education students, some meaningful job experiences.

“Part of our students’ curriculum is to learn job skills,” Wilson said. “We were trying to give them actual experiences rather than just talking about it in class.

“When Ryan (Guimont) moved to the high school, we started looking for hands on job skills we could do. And we ended up doing custodial, landscaping and recycling that same year.”

Guimont had moved to the high school from another school, where he had a run a program similar to the current recycling efforts.

“It was a great way for our students to work on independent job skills while also helping the school building,” Guimont said. “There was no recycling program there at that time.”

Wilson said it is an “awesome” experience for the kids because it provides real job skills and is student-led.

Since the start of their working with the Charlotte Area Recycling Authority (CARA) four years ago, the students have been placing bins in each high school classroom. Two days a week they go to each classroom and collect everything. There is a “mini recycling center” in the lower part of the high school, where students sort the donations. From there, material is taken to CARA. They also return any pop or beverage bottles to Meijer, and the money they earn goes back into the program.

“Caps and lids”

This past year, Wilson and Guimont decided to expand what they were doing. Wilson explained that the students had found a place in Indiana able to recycle the caps and lids they had been collecting — a special process that CARA was not able to do. The Indiana facility turns the caps and lids into plastic/ recycled lumber.

“This year, the students decided to collect as many caps and lids as they could to try and build a bench or picnic table for the school courtyard they have been working on landscaping,” Wilson said. “It was a way to combine our job sites into a group project.”

In order to get enough for the bench, the students needed to collect almost 200 pounds of the caps and lids.

“That number seemed overwhelming at first,” Wilson said. “So they decided to see if they could get the community to help.”

The students made collection buckets at each of the elementary schools and CARA to help make it easier for people to donate. They created a poster at CARA that shows what acceptable caps and lids they are looking for. Students also went to second-grade classrooms at Parkview and Washington earlier this school year to talk about the importance of recycling and to ask for help.

“We even had two students who went to the capitol building in Lansing in December to talk about their project to visitors,” Wilson said.

Prior to the schools being closed because of COVID-19, the students had collected 130 pounds of caps and lids.

“The students are looking forward to continuing this next year and maybe getting the 500 pounds for the table instead,” Wilson said. “The students have been debating the table or multiple benches and maybe trying to do a bench at each school for their support.

“The students, Mr. Guimont and I have been very excited with the response and help from the community, and the students are looking forward to continuing this project,” Wilson said.


Earlier this school year, CHS students Abby McCune and Erin Eisner went to the capitol building to talk about recycling.

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