Tiptoe through the tombstones with me.

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In Saturday’s post,  I wrote about my morning meanderings, which included stops at three different parks, as well as historic Oakwood Cemetery, the latter which I’m going to focus on today.

I already had goosebumps from the chilly morning air before I stopped at this landmark built in 1869, and located at the corner of Biddle and Ford Avenues in Wyandotte.  Every time I go to Bishop Park, I pass this cemetery, which, for many years, has been rumored to be haunted.  While it wasn’t scary roaming around in the daylight hours checking out the tombstones and gnarly looking trees, I was the only one there, so I decided to be prudent and not explore the back acreage as it was quite far from the main drag.  The morning was still gray and gloomy as well, the perfect atmosphere to visit this historical site.

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I last visited this cemetery in the late 1960s.  I was a teenager then and took a Summer art class sponsored by the City of Lincoln Park.  The person who taught the class was an artist and her passion was drawing with charcoal pencils.  So every Wednesday, weather permitting, the City’s Parks and Recreation bus took us to a different local place of interest.  We each brought a blanket and clutching our sketchbooks and charcoal pencils, we’d plunk down on the ground and draw to our heart’s desire, while our teacher peered over our shoulder and offered commentary on our work.  It was a fun class and we often ventured to Wyandotte as Lincoln Park had no real places of historical interest.

One Wednesday the bus dropped us off and our small group trooped through Oakwood Cemetery.  It felt a little awkward being there, all of us having been raised to understand a cemetery was a place of solemnity and reverence, so we quietly paused at different tombstones or markers to decide which one we would choose as our subject for that week’s assignment.  When we were done with our sketch, our teacher asked us to rip a sheet from our sketchbook and lay it against a tombstone, then use our pencil to make a charcoal impression of the engraved inscription.  I remember thinking that was a little weird, plus the tombstone inscriptions had eroded and were almost smooth, but, like the other members of the class, I complied.

So fast forward about five decades …

The years fell away and I was mindful of that many decades-ago art class assignment as I began to amble through Oakwood Cemetery, and once again viewed the many tombstones in all shapes and sizes.

A wrought-iron fence surrounds the property, and the heavy gates were propped open since the sign states the cemetery is open from dawn until dusk.

First, I was fascinated by the collection of gnarly and twisted trees, some of them leaning all the way to the ground.

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Along the wrought-iron fence, one such tree had this beautiful pink rosebush, likely many decades old, and it rambled up the fence.

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Several contingents of graves were segregated in various spots around the cemetery and festooned with small flags, likely in honor of Memorial Day, and also because this is the final resting place for many veterans.  Today I researched to discover some information on the war dead at Oakwood Cemetery, and learned there are 45 veterans buried there, many from the Civil War.  One veteran named John Clark died February 22, 1827.  Clark, a captain in the New York Militia, fought and was wounded in the War of 1812.  It is John Clark’s family that established this cemetery back in 1869.

veterans plot

I was reminded just how desolate and unloved this historical place really is by the nearly foot-high grass which was so dense in places, you could not even see many of the low gravestones.  There are volunteers who do tend to the property, since no one claims ownership and the City of Wyandotte treats it as a historical site, but the unkempt appearance tells me that sadly, it has been awhile since anyone ventured here.

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BASF’s chemical plant looms large in the background, somehow looking out of place with this old cemetery.

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I was reluctant to traipse through that overgrown grass as I worried about ticks or even mosquitoes, since we have an abundance of each this year thanks to the unrelenting rain in May and last week’s extreme heat.  The news media is full of warnings to be mindful of stagnant water and overgrown grass to avoid bites from these pests.

There was a gravel-covered path which appeared to be used by vehicles entering the cemetery, but those ruts were muddy and full of water, so going down this path wasn’t a good option.

ruts

Since I was there to explore and take a few photos, I had no choice but to cut through the high grass, or turn around and go back and return another day.

These are some of the larger, unique or very old tombstones I saw.

 

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1901

old stone

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There was a brisk northeast breeze stirring the huge wind chimes on this tree and it seemed eerie to me.

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I spent about an hour at Oakwood Cemetery and likely won’t return again, but it satisfied my curiosity and was an interesting lookback to an era long before my time.  If you want to read more about the history and/or urban legends of Oakwood Cemetery, here is a link:

https://www.downriverthings.com/oakwood-cemetery.html

Rain once again spoiled my walk this morning.  I had intended to participate in an anti-bullying walk at Heritage Park which was slated for 1:00 p.m.  But the weather forecast for this afternoon was iffy and I didn’t want to drive that ten-mile round trip only for it to pour or storm, so I did not go.  In April, we had snow instead of April rain showers, and I thought once May was done, the rain would be as well … evidently not.

About lindasschaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, and this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for over three decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, although I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too.
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25 Responses to Tiptoe through the tombstones with me.

  1. Cathy Brabant says:

    I’ve been by that cemetery so many times, but have never stopped. Thanks to you I will be making a trip there to check it out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ann Marie stevens says:

    Miss Linda………………………thank you for all of the news about the neglected Oakwood cemetery in Wyandotte……………….that was nice of you to go there and look up the interesting information…..I was happy to learn more about it

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      You’re welcome Ann Marie – I have another few links I’ll e-mail to you from the “News Herald” … I know they recently had an organization cleaning up the graves (maybe the Boy Scouts?) and I read that story in the online version of the paper. They were doing it for Memorial Day for the 45 veterans who are buried there and commemorating the soldiers. Very interesting that no ones claims ownership of that cemetery, but likely they no longer bury people there anymore either.

      Like

  3. I’m a BIG fan of cemeteries and usually plan a stop in at least one (historic one) most places we travel. I have found that the ones in Mexico are just about the best, but the one you visited is pretty nice. Funny, I’ve found a few bloggers with the same affection for graveyards.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      That’s interesting – the ones in Mexico are likely like this one … older and neglected? This cemetery was fascinating because no one wants to take ownership of it and the City of Wyandotte is beautiful, picturesque and very cosmopolitan, but they have taken an interest in preserving the site. There is a blogger and we follow one another, and she is interested in haunted sites. I sent her the story about the Oakwood Cemetery a few months ago to see if she wanted to create a blog post about it. She’s written a few books as well on the subject.

      Like

  4. susieshy45 says:

    Linda,
    You are a marvel. I am glad you shared this post with us. I never would have thought about visiting a cemetery. It looks beautiful. In the undergrowth, I would be afraid of snakes rather than mosquitoes- usually, mosquitoes skip by me because of my unpalatable blood.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Susie – Oh my, I never thought of snakes … my heart is skipping a beat thinking of that as I don’t like snakes either. We have had so much rain and lots of heat last week and the news is full of info re: ticks and mosquitoes, When I was out last weekend in shorts and tee-shirt, I got many bites. I used to give blood all the time – my blood is just regular, A type, but the last time I gave blood, I had a rookie drawing it and her two supervisors were chit-chatting in the corner about their ex-husbands and she tried finding a place to put the needle in and the needlet kept falling out … I suggested she get a supervisor as they weren’t busy. She said “no, I know what I’m doing” … I called the supervisor over myself and they both came, one put in the needle, but I was black and blue on my entire arm from all the sites she tried to get the needle in, and never went back to a Red Cross Blood Drive again. I suppose it was childish on my part as I gave three times a year for a local church, but I never went back. They called me all the time and I asked them to stop.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. John says:

    Old cemeteries are very beautiful, but in recent years, I have difficulty photographing cemeteries and also some churches. Why do not I know. My mother died in 2009 and it took me 2 years before I could visit her grave.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lindasschaub says:

    John – This is the first and only cemetery I’ve ever been to, first for the art class and then on Saturday. I’ve actually only been to two funerals, that of my grandparents – both died in cold weather months, so the burial was not that day as the ground was too cold and we lived in the States, no longer in Canada, and we never visited the grave sites. My mom wanted to be cremated and her ashes scattered in Canada. I could not do that myself as I no longer had/have a valid passport. You now need a passport to cross the border to Canada since the Patriot Act was passed after 9/11. An acquaintance scattered her cremains at a lake in a rural town where we sometimes went for a Sunday drive or stopped when we went to Canada to visit my grandmother who died in 1986. I have not heard from my father since 1984 – he lives in Germany and is 91 years old. I recently had a genealogist track down his whereabouts – I wanted to know if he was still living or not. I have no interest to see him as he disrespected my mother and I and ran off with their life’s savings and left her penniless.

    I can certainly understand your reluctance not to go after your mom’s death. Better to remember people when they were healthy and happy, not visiting a plot in a graveyard. I did not have the ashes scattered for several years after my mom died and that was in 2010.

    I sent the blog post link to my friend Evelyn in Virginia – we often share our photos and she suggested I should have made some or all of the photos in black and white and that would have been interesting, especially for the top header shot..

    Like

  7. WalkFrederick says:

    What a fascinating story of the cemetery! Thank you for sharing your high school experience with us. It does sound like it would be eerie enough with the lack of people, the wind chime blowing and the tall grass, which means no one has been there. I would definitely stay away during the night. 🙂

    We have a cemetery nearby that I’d like to write about soon. It is the resting place of Francis Scott Key (the guy who wrote the Star Spangled Banner) as well as many civil war victims.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Glad you liked it Michelle. I had a strange feeling walking around there, nothing seemed to be in any kind of order, just a hodge podge of tombstones or markers and no rhyme or reason to their placement. I am sure no one has been buried there in a very long time. The wind chimes were definitely creepy sounding as it was so windy that day. I would not attempt it at night either.

      That cemetery in Maryland sounds interesting – will you be doing a blog post for the 4th of Jul about Francis Scott Key? I’ll look forward to reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Old cemeteries are very interesting! 🙂 I don’t, however, think that cemeteries (or any other places) are haunted. Yes, avoid tall grass at all costs. Ticks scare me (not ghosts) and Lyme Disease is no laughing matter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I remember you said you had them there and you were concerned as you couldn’t get your lawn cut due to the rain. They are saying it will be a bad summer for both ticks and mosquitoes with all our rain and that spate of hot days (five or six days of 90-degree weather). Lyme Disease is not something to be trifled with. I thought it was interesting there as well and with the gloomy sky and overgrown grass it made it even more interesting.

      Like

  9. We have a small cemetery here in Tofino on a near by island,Morpheus. Ours isn’t as old as yours but does look older.
    https://tofinophotography.wordpress.com/category/morpheus-island/
    Nature is always trying to reclaim it’s territory!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ellie P. says:

    What a fascinating experience! I’ve never had occasion to visit a cemetery with such old monuments – it must be an eerie feeling.

    I’ve been meaning to mention, Linda, that I find your writing to be excellent. Again I implore you to start thinking about a book. Focus, format and photos! Sit down (for a change 😉 ) and plan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      It was very interesting, especially since I’d not been there in about five decades and it had not changed a bit! That cemetery looked so unkempt and likely did not look that bad until the grass grew out of control with all the recent rain and heat. We had a very rainy/stormy day today and I had planned to walk in a 5K and attend an old car gathering (all Model A cars which I thought would be fun and I was going to do the pictures in black and white or sepia) … I wasn’t going to walk in the rain and very few people showed up according to the Facebook post and they cancelled the car show.

      Thank you for saying that Ellie – coming from you, a writer and proofreader, I take that as a nice compliment. I will think about it more as Robb gets ready to retire. I think I mentioned to you that Wayne suggested doing a children’s book about Parker the squirrels and I dwelled on that idea for a while after he said it, even thought about some formats. Then I got busy with the “Spring babies” and I do see Parker, but have peppered the blog with other pictures (thought people may tire of squirrels all the time).

      Liked by 1 person

  11. janowrite says:

    A great post – I appreciate old cemeteries, I’m from the West, where we don’t have them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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