WHITE RIVER TWP. – Captain Williamson Robinson is a major historical figure in the White Lake Area.
Robinson was the first lighthouse keeper for the White River Light Station, playing a role in getting it constructed, as well as having a role in getting the wider channel between Whitehall and Montague built to provide easier access to White Lake and the White River from Lake Michigan. Gone, but never forgotten, his descendants work to keep his legacy alive by maintaining his and the rest of the Robinson family gravesites in the historical Mouth Cemetery.
Located off of Sunset Lane in White River Township, the cemetery is home to several members of the Robinson Family. In addition to Capt. Robinson, his wife Sarah, and his father the senior captain Williamson Robinson are buried there.
However, before his descendants took an interest in maintaining the family gravesites, the area was overgrown with plants and trees, and several of the headstones were broken.
Spearheading the gravesite clean up were the Wheeler and McGee families. Linda Wheeler and Kim McGee are both direct descendants to the late captain.
Linda and David Wheeler, and Kim McGee spoke about the project.
“His wife (Mary McGee) is a direct descendant of the Robinson Family, which I am as well through the sister of Capt. Robinson at the lighthouse, Elizabeth McNeil, who has a headstone here,” said Linda Wheeler.
Linda Wheeler said it was Kim and Mary McGee who came up with the idea to clean up the Robinson gravesites. They first had to seek permission from White River Township.
“Kim (McGee) and Mary (McGee) said ‘Hey why don’t we as a family group get over here (sic).” He (Kim) sought permission from White River Township. They said yes to anything we wanted to do within the Robinson plot proper, we could go and clean it up,” said Linda Wheeler.
Surveying the land last summer the family found that Sarah Robinson’s headstone had fallen over. It required a backhoe to move it back into place.
Also, several of the other Robinson family headstones were broken and discolored with age. Researching online to find out what it would take to repair the stones they decided the cost would be too great for their small group of people.
They decided to create a Go Fund Me for the restoration. The money raised paid for repairing and cleaning the headstones, weeding and tree removal to the area, fence repairs, and a bench for people to sit on.
“We took 53 trees out of this plot, white pine sapling and larger. You couldn’t even see that (headstones) [sic] until we did that,” said Dave Wheeler.
To repair the headstones the family constructed asteel structure that acts as an indestructible frame. The steel was donated by Bauer Sheet Metal and Fabricating Inc. in Muskegon.
For cleaning the headstones a product called D/2 Biological Solution was used. The product, they said, came recommended by the White Lake Historical Society, museums in the City of Muskegon, and the National Park Service.
The family plans to use the remaining funds from the Go Fund Me to add a sign detailing the history of the family.