“Strange characters and men of obscure identity drifted into the lumber camps in the early days. Nobody knew who they were, or what, or where they came from. Nobody tried to guess what had sent them into the wilds. That was their own affair, and their new acquaintances judged them solely by their manner of life after their arrival. Many, of course, obviously were lumbermen, trained in the business, and there was no mystery about those; a few others, were just as clearly out of their element. Such a man was destined to become the subject of the first white funeral at the site of what later became Grand Rapids.
A Doctor Roberts came to the neighborhood in 1874, though it appears that he did not purpose to practice his profession there. He might have given first aid to a few lumberjacks, but there is no record to prove it, and he put up at the Potter & Company stopping place for several months without opening an office or displaying a shingle. And during that first winter he died.
Doctor Robert’s body was placed in the warehouse of the company until arrangements could be made for his burial, but no one ever claimed the body, and it was finally decided that he should not be interred.
There was no minister available within many miles, nor could a Bible be located in the whole community, but Lafayette Knox, the merchant, had a prayerbook. The unknown drifter was buried under the tree— one more man whole people probably waited a few years to hear from him, then gave him up as dead, and never learned the time, place, or manner of his death.
The big woods have been oblivion to many men.”
– page 54