Memorial of Another Kind: 112 Years and the Summit View Cemetery
By David Neidert
The lot is nondescript, situated in a residential neighborhood. Its boundary is noted only by a chain-link fence. Yet nestled in the shadows of a few trees are the stories of a movement, its history, and life almost forgotten by time.
The Summit View Cemetery, also called the Gospel Trumpet Cemetery, was designed and opened by June 1908. The purpose was providing a final resting place for elderly residents at the Church of God Old People’s Home in Anderson. This home, completed and opened in the spring of 1908, housed senior adults who had connections to the movement. The Gospel Trumpet Board of Directors announced the cemetery’s location as “a beautiful and elevated spot lying some distance south of the Home, and partially obscured by a young growth of trees.” The cemetery today lays nearly unnoticed in a neighborhood close to the former Warner Press office building.
William Franklin Shope (1870–1926), who worked over twenty years for the Gospel Trumpet Company, drew the cemetery’s plan. He arrived at the Trumpet November 1896 in Moundsville (WV) employed as a carpenter. He served as an “architect for the Gospel Trumpet Home in Moundsville, West Virginia, and for the following buildings in Anderson, Indiana: The Publishing Plant, School Building, Park Place Church, Dining-hall, and Tabernacle.” He and his wife, Mary Belle Ewing Shope, left the Home in 1918, moving to Springfield, Ohio.
The cemetery was intended to become a large facility. By 1913, however, it was resolved that “the use of the Summit View Cemetery be limited to the interment of persons connected directly or indirectly with the Gospel Trumpet work or with the Old People’s Home.” The Trumpet offices made arrangements for burials and record interments.
John Menz was the first person buried in the cemetery on June 20, 1908. The Gospel Trumpet made this statement about his burial, “In this quiet resting place (of Summit View Cemetery) the remains of Bro. Menz were laid away, to await the resurrection call. This is the first burial in the new cemetery.” It continued in an obituary, “There being no special friends, or relatives, to weep over his bier, we were all his friends, perhaps in a truer sense than the mere flesh relationship.” The remains of sixty-two women, men, and children would follow Menz into the young trees’ shade.
The Gospel Trumpet decided by 1960 to move the remains of those already buried in the cemetery to locations more satisfactory to family. The only person reinterred, however, was George Cortner. George’s brother Henry had his remains transferred to Maplewood Cemetery in 1963. Family members could no longer be located for others and expenses became prohibitive. As with many things, in time, the trees grew while the sun peeking through faded the headstones. The lives, stories, and memories of the cemetery’s residents also faded into history’s pages.
On Memorial Day Weekend in 1999, members of the “Interact Club of Anderson cleaned up and documented the small, obscure Summit View Cemetery.” The project was spearheaded by high school senior, Jeanna Palmer, then president of the club. Fifteen club members participated in the assessment documenting fifty graves at that time. Today, this author has noted the burial plots of those in the cemetery through archival records and physically recording all headstones.
The Church of God should remember those who helped birth and prosper its message. Faded headstones should not fade honor. The grave markers display the names of evangelist families like Cole, Bixler, and Pine. Faithful Trumpet workers like Bell, Blore, and McCreary, rest along with these preaching families. All should be remembered. All honored.
Work is currently underway for adding historical markers manufactured by the State of Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources. In time, the nondescript lot, sitting in a residential neighborhood will be identified as holy ground. It is a sacred place, one worthy of honor for those faithful to the Church of God some one-hundred years past.
Author’s note—Archival records, Gospel Trumpet newspapers, Board of Directors’ minutes, and death certificates were used in writing a history of this cemetery. The final project’s documents will be housed with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Historical Society, and the Church of God Archives.
David Neidert, born and raised in the Church of God, serves as a contributing writer and editor for Church of God Ministries. He worked at Anderson University for thirty-eight years and served the Historical Society of the Church of God as editor for one year. His published works include curriculum, numerous articles, and two books.