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Historical Sites of Grand Rapids


Thomas Gilbert
Stop #1 (Lot 31, Block 12)

This is the family plot of Thomas Gilbert. Most of the Gilbert family is buried here. At one time a cast iron fence enclosed this whole section. The small section here is all that remains. During World War II metal was needed and collected from many of the plot markers such as this one.

Thomas Gilbert came to the Michigan Territory in 1835. He and his brother (Francis) started a mercantile business in Grand Haven. In 1855 they moved to Grand Rapids. For many years Gilbert worked at the G. R. Light Company. He was also president of the City National Bank. Gilbert was active in local politics and it was through his efforts that the city built the Soldier’s monument (Civil War Monument on Monroe & Division). He also donated land to this cemetery so it would have room to expand as the city grew.

The large monument is made of granite and the smaller grave markers are made of marble. The Draped Urn at the top of the monument has two meanings: 1) urn – sacred to the memory of, 2) drape – a sign of sorrow.

The other symbols lilies and lamb mean (lilies or flowers indicate a sign of beauty and impermanence and the lamb indicate the death of a young child or innocence).