Sunday, October 16, 2011

Greenwood Cemetary Tour

It was a fall blustery day, the kind you just want to stay in and sew or nap, or anything not outside. But for a cemetery tour it was probably the perfect day, the sun was shining so it ended up being a great way to learn a little about the early days of our town. A guided tour that featured local volunteers who told stories of notable pioneers buried there.

I live in Birmingham MI, a northern suburb of Detroit which was founded in 1818. The cemetery was founded or started in 1821 as the result of a double murder. The Utter family who were a farming family had employed a veteran of the 1812 war, he axed to death the mother and 1 daughter. It was a fellow resident who was so upset at this news that he donated a part of his property for their burial. During that time most were buried on their own property or farm, the Utters however leased the land they farmed so there was no place for them to be buried, so Greenwood Cemetery was formed.
Above first monument, burial site, Utter double murder

Utter family monument
The cemetery became the place for most burials of that time and has many founding and formative members of Birmingham early pioneering days. There are many civil war veterans, and many from both world wars as well.

The cemetery's only Revolutionary war veteran, above, also the earliest born within the cemetery.

This was a "first members of flight" those early aviation pilots who flew solo before 1917

The tour in the fall focuses on the forming of the cemetery and those notable residents who died up to about 1920 ending with Martha Baldwin who was a very outspoken women of her time and whose impact is still relevant in Birmingham today. She was the founder of Birmingham's Public Library, called Baldwin, she also headed a group of women and often financed the upkeep of the cemetary during the early 1900's. When she died she deeded her entire estate and property to the city, with strict usage requirements, many of the properties are parks, schools and city buildings. Martha was not always received once being quoted "the more time I spend with men, the more I like dogs".

The cemetary is still active with buriels still taking place, however most are family plots that have been acquired many years prior. We were told that their is a waiting list that is quite long, but with a little luck and a lot of time you could be buried here.

I took a few shots of some interesting monuments throughout the cemetary. The bronze sculptures are the work of a local artist and can also be found throughout our city, 3 of his works are here, I could not find the 3rd, it is much smaller.

Admittedly I wish I were better versed in local history, I plan to join the Friends of the Historical Society this month. I have already volunteered to help with a quilt exhibit that is coming in January and will be helping in the hand quilting of a quilt being shown and raffled.

I hope to squeeze in another self guided walking tour of this museum before the weather gets real cold and take more pictures and visit additional notable graves. The spring tour in April will also be another opportunity to visit Greenwood Cemetery.


Lori's Glassworks said...

Thanks for sharing your tour. I live next to a Historic Cemetery in Atlanta. It is such a peaceful place for a fall stroll. I love places filled with hidden history! Cheers!

Kathy said...

So enjoined your tour, and the photos of the tombstones and markers are lovely. I love cemeteries as well, but do find them sad... I try not to think to much, just enjoy the beauty and know those souls are in a happy place.

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