A Trip to Garden Island
On Wednesday, July 29th, two boats set out for Garden Island at 10:00 a.m.: Ernie Martin's Bayliner, with Agnes Bird, three of her daughters, and the husbands of the two oldest; and Jeff Cashman's Wellcraft, with Jeff, JoAnne, and myself. Agnes had been born on Garden in 1916, during the Great War, but had left six years later for Indian School in Harbor Springs. She remembered little of her time there, but hoped that actually setting foot on the island, and perhaps even finding remains of the home in which she had lived, would free hidden memories. I phoned Keewaydinoqay in Leelanau before leaving, but she was unable to provide much information on such short notice. She regretted not being on Garden to welcome Agnes, who is of a comparable age.
The sea was rough enough to make slow going advisable, but by 11:00 a.m. both boats were tied together in Indian Harbor and held in place by three anchors. Two sailboats were also at anchor here, and a third was in the lee of Little Island in Garden Island Harbor. A scuba diver was exploring the shallows, and a raft on the beach indicated one or another sailboaters were on a trek.
Ernie and I took turns ferrying the crew ashore in his 6' inflatable raft, with the daughters snapping pictures of the broad smile that overcame their mother the moment she was actually back home.
Even before everyone had left the boat, Agnes wandered into the old field, passed up the rusting farm equipment, and was off on the path to the Indian Cemetery, directed by an inner compass. The rush into the woods was too much for one of her son-in-laws, though, and he sat down to catch his breath, announcing he could go no farther. I stayed with him until his wife's sister's husband came back from the cemetery and I was able to catch up with the others.
When Agnes was a baby, her parents passed away. Her grandmother told her she had planted a pine tree on their grave, and Agnes hoped to find a mature pine marking the spot. Her spirits soared as she wandered through the weathered old spirit houses, some with fresh tokens of respect, but when no pine trees could be found, they began to fall. She was told that although she could not honor her parents by offering a prayer on their exact burial spot, their spirits were no doubt pleased that she had come two thousand miles to stand in the general area. That perked her up.
She wanted to continue to the Schoolhouse Clearing and see what remained, but her daughters thought this would be too exhausting for her and insisted that she return to the boats. Chris, the youngest of these daughters, said that her mother had probably lived at Bomway Bay on the northwest corner; Bomway was her family name. Chris thought that if she could get to Bomway Bay, and hopefully find some trace of the cabins that had once stood there. [ Continued ] [ Garden Cemetery ]