Niles in Berrien County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Father Claude Jean Allouez S. J.
Father Claude Jean Allouez S. J.
Erected 1919 by Woman's Progressive League of Niles.
Location. 41° 48.857′ N, 86° 15.596′ W. Marker is in Niles, Michigan, in Berrien County. Marker can be reached from Bond Street 0.3 miles north of Front Street, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Niles MI 49120, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fort St. Joseph (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ring Lardner (approx. 0.6 miles away); Saint Mary’s (approx. 0.8 miles away); PA-WA-TING (approx. 0.9 miles away); Trinity Church (approx. one mile away); Wesley United Methodist Church Parrott Civil War Cannon (approx. 1.1 miles away); Donavon F. Smith Veterans Memorial Park Monument (approx. 1.1 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Niles.
More about this marker. In reply to a request from the Michigan Historical Commission in 1921, Catherine Francis Babbitt, the chair of the Historical Committee of the Woman's Progressive League of Niles at the time of erection of the memorial, reported the following in regards to the Claude Jean Allouez memorial:
About a stone's throw from the site of Fort St. Joseph, for many years there stood a rude wooden cross which local tradition had always regarded as the marker for the grave of Father Claude Allouez.
William Isaac Cummings, a local pioneer who walked by the wooden cross almost daily when he was a boy, acquired from the landowners a plot of land around the cross of wood on the condition that a cross of granite or iron would be erected.
To accomplish the work, the Women's Progressive League of Niles teamed with Mr. Cummings. By May 1918 they had raised sufficient funds to purchase a 10 1/2 foot high memorial from E.T. Kies of Kalamazoo with a bronze tablet designed by the Detroit Mausoleum
The memorial did not arrive until June 7, 1919, as it was delayed in transit on account of war material taking precedence on all railroads.
Excavation of the site needed to be done for footings for the memorial. To avoid disturbing the grave of Father Allouez, it was decided to erect the new memorial twelve feet from the old wooden cross.
As they excavated in the area of the new memorial, the workmen unearthed coffin nails and the bones of a human skeleton believed to be that of a white man.
The unearthed remains were gathered together, placed in a box, and buried at the foot of the new memorial cross.
Based on this evidence and the supposition that it was natural and reasonable that Father Allouez died near the scene of his labors, it was concluded by the editors of the Michigan History Magazine that this location was the final resting place of Father Allouez.
Source: "Notes and Comment." Michigan History Magazine V January-April 1921: 289-293. Print.
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