While searching through the manuscript maps in the Archives I recently discovered a map labelled “Plat & Survey of Kidder Farm, 1850.” The first thing that struck me about the map was a sectioned off corner labelled “6 acres Burying ground.” I then noticed writing on the map indicating the “Northwest quarter of Section 29 Township 7 North Range 11 West.” For those of us unfamiliar with surveyor language that puts us at the location between Eastern and Fuller Avenues and Fulton and Michigan Streets. Therefore the “Burying ground” is our very own Fulton Street Cemetery.
It appears that the map was done by the Kent County Surveyor, William Slawson, in 1850. The back of map states that it was a plat and survey of the Kidder farm. So far I have been unable to figure out anything about Kidder farm, but I was curious as to when the cemetery came into existence. According to Albert Baxter’s history of the city, the Trustees of the Village purchased 6 acres from the Reverend James Ballard to be set aside for a cemetery in 1838. And according to Chapman’s history of Kent County, Ballard acquired the land earlier that year in 1838 from Chester Walbridge who in turn had acquired the land from George M. Mills. Mills was the original recipient of the federal land patent for the northwest corner of Section 29. By 1850 this area was still on the outside of the city’s boundaries and was quite undeveloped. But this map from our archives may possibly be the earliest to show us the location of the cemetery.