MUSKEGON, Mich.-- It was an emotional afternoon for many people in Muskegon as 72 children previously buried in unmarked graves were finally recognized.
The Muskegon County Genealogical Society helped make all of this happen, but the most amazing moment was when one woman got to see her daughter's name on a headstone in person for the first time.
It was a day Carrie Wade never thought would come.
"I was 18 years old when my baby died and I didn't have money to bury her or do anything," said Wade.
For years, her daughter Sheronda Wade remained buried in an unmarked grave at Shady Rest Cemetery in Muskegon. On Thursday, Carrie finally saw her girl's name forever engraved at her final resting place for the first time.
“I know where she is now. I knew she was in Shady Rest, but I didn’t know where," said Wade.
The Muskegon County Genealogical Society came across the unmarked graves of Sheronda and 71 other children and since then have been working to get headstones for each of them.
“These children have been out here for 50-60 years in unmarked graves where nobody knew they were at," said Bill Hansen, cemetery committee chairman for the Muskegon County Genealogical Society. “It gives closure to those families that are still around.”
Families like Wade's, who after seeing a preview of the event on FOX 17 Morning News brought her other children out Thursday afternoon to finally see her baby's grave.
“Being 18 years old, my heart was broken, I never really came back, I didn’t know where she was and I wanted to bring flowers out but I didn’t know where to bring flowers," said Wade.
“It means so much to me and my family, like my mom said we never knew where she was at," said Jerome Wade, Carrie's son.
The headstones were donated by Superior Monument Company in Muskegon, placing markers at each of the seven burial sites discovered by the Genealogical Society.
“Everyone was in tears, it was such an emotional event and it was worth everything to see that and I’m so glad that she was here," said Hanse.
“I knew God knew where she was, but like I said, I wanted to know where she was," said Carrie Wade. "I wanted to know where she was. I wanted to come here, I wanted to bring her flowers, I wanted to come so now I can.”
Wade says her family is going to come back out on June 18 to place flowers on Sheronda's grave for her birthday, now that they finally know where she's buried.
The Genealogical Society says they've also identified a Civil War veteran buried in the cemetery and they've ordered a headstone for him. They hope to dedicate it in early July and the public will be welcome to attend.