Strolling through the boneyard.

While roaming ‘round the ‘hood lately, I noted the themes for Halloween range from ghostly to ghastly. Each year there is one homeowner on Emmons Boulevard that devotes the entire front lawn to recreating a ghastly graveyard, complete with wacky tombstones and ghoulish figures rising from the grave. I have shared some of those images in my blog in the past, but today, I’ve got something better for you. This cemetery is the “real deal” with vintage tombstones and it comes with a little bit of history too.

If you are really brave, you’d visit a very old graveyard on Halloween night, especially this year, when there is a full moon … a blue moon to be exact. But I am not THAT brave, so I visited the “Old Burial Ground” as locals refer to it, on a sunny Summer afternoon. The graveyard is located just a stone’s throw away from Elizabeth Park. It was a long-time bucket list item, as I’d wanted to check it out whenever I passed by when driving to/from Lake Erie MetroPark. It is located on the corner of West Jefferson and West Jefferson … yes, it is a corner as West Jefferson Avenue wends around that bend once you leave downtown Trenton.

First a short backstory

A couple of years ago, I stopped by Oakwood Cemetery, long rumored to be haunted. It is in Wyandotte, Michigan, which is just a few miles from my home. I had not been to Oakwood Cemetery, which was built in 1869, in almost 50 years, though I pass it all the time when going to downtown Wyandotte to walk along the Detroit River boardwalk at Bishop Park.

The occasion for visiting that ancient graveyard as a young teenager was because I took a free art class offered by our City, wherein every Wednesday we traveled to different sites to sketch charcoal images. I wrote at length about visiting Oakwood Cemetery in my blog post “Tiptoe through the tombstones with me.” You can read that post by clicking here if you are interested.

So, in the spirit of Halloween, I’ve got another graveyard trek to share.

I was not brave enough to visit the Old Burial Ground in the dark, so I hope you are not disappointed. It is a small graveyard, tucked away on this busy street corner. If you blink, you might miss it. The site is surrounded by a fairly high wrought-iron fence which gates were left ajar, so it was easy to just sneak in and get some pictures.

Once I passed through the gates, at once I noticed the cemetery was chock full of very old tombstones, some quite dilapidated, a few were listing to one side and one was pieced together. In some cases, the words were worn off the stones. I found it interesting reading the descriptions on the tombstones, that begun “here sleeps” or “aged 71 years and 3 mos.” or perhaps identified as “Little Willie” – what a step back in time!

Just like Oakwood Cemetery, there is some historical significance to this graveyard. To save you straining your eyes on the historical marker, here is what it says. I have put the more interesting facts in boldface:

In 1849, Giles & Sophia Truax Slocum deeded this land to be held in trust to the Trenton Odd Fellow Lodge No.33. In 1867, it was deeded to the Masonic Lodge, F & AM No.8. In 1918, the deed was transferred to Monguagon Township. Here rest forty-four early pioneers, Civil War veterans, and Trenton’s first doctor. The cemetery was once larger and the grounds unfenced. Townspeople objected to children from the adjoining “South” school playing among the tombstones, and re-interments occurred in 1874 and again in 1890. In 1929, the ornate fence was installed. Named the Odd Fellow, Masonic, and finally the Walnut Street Cemetery, it will always be known as the “Old Burial Ground”. It is now maintained by the City of Trenton.

So come and join me in my meander around the Old Burial Ground.

P.S. – In visiting this graveyard, I was reminded of my late mom, but in a fun, not macabre way. When I was a little nipper, we often went to visit and enjoy Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house. We would drive from where we lived in Oakville to Toronto. We went past a cemetery and my mother would say “I wonder how many are buried there Linda?” The first time I “fell for it” and took a few minutes calculating how many people rested there and whatever number I said, Mom said “all of them Linda!” Even when I was older, whenever we passed a cemetery anywhere, Mom always repeated her line from this old family joke … but I never fell for that trick again.

About Linda Schaub

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, so 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 four 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, though 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. - Linda Schaub
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47 Responses to Strolling through the boneyard.

  1. Sandra J says:

    I remember the saying your Mom asked you, same here. How many are buried there question. Isn’t it something, the older graveyards, the stones they had made to mark the graves, some are so grand, I imagine the folks that made all those stones and carved the words into each one. That must have been quite the task back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Was it your mom who said it too Sandra? I never fell for it again, but it became a little family joke between us. These gravestones are just incredible to see – some are embedded into the grass they’ve been there so long. I liked seeing the names on the stones and the way they described them … very unusual. It was not spooky like the last graveyard, where no one had cut or trimmed the grass when I visited and we had had many days, even weeks of rain and the grass was growing like weeds everywhere,

      Like

      • Sandra J says:

        Yes, she always liked going for drives to the cemetery, and reminence as she would tell me who was there. She knew most of them, small town. And she said those very words on occasion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I think it is nice to live in a small town … my City is just 5 square miles which is not big, but does not have the “small-town” atmosphere at all. That is funny that they both used the same word/expression. My grandmother went to the funeral home for everyone she even remotely knew. She would pat their hand while they were laying in the casket … this was everyone, not just a loved one. Different times as they used to have their wakes and funerals, etc. held right at the farmhouse growing up, right in the parlour.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sandra J says:

        That is something, my Grandmother always liked going for drives into the country. I would go and get her and go out to where there were cows and horses, she had grown up on a farm. Every time we drove by a field that had round bales of hay in it. She would always say, ” Cows now a days can’t get a square meal”, she would look at me and smile. I will forever remember that every time I see hay bales in a field. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Oh, that’s a nice way to remember your Grandmother … that would be a trigger for me to remember and get a little smile for that remembrance.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your mom’s sense of humor. 🙂 What an interesting cemetery. (Doing family history research I spend a lot of time in cemeteries.) Remarkable that a school was situated right next to a graveyard. Sometimes I wonder why some headstones, like Emma Alvord’s, don’t show the ravages of time like the ones surrounding them. And the standard abbreviations they used for men’s names (Chs. for Charles, Sam. for Samuel), I think to save space and/or expense on the engraving. And to wonder about the story behind Little Willie… Fascinating post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, my mom was funny and that became a family joke since I had fallen for that line when I was just a kid. The cemetery was interesting and even older than the one I visited in Wyandotte a few years before … so many of the stones were crumbling or decrepit, especially the ones on the ground which were often in pieces. I never thought to Google to find the history of “Little Willie” and just did … you would not believe all the “Little Willie” deaths and unbelievably I found the info on this “Little Willie” … interestingly, they say he died at one year old, but the math isn’t right unless they are counting the first year after birth as zero. Here’s the link – thanks for prompting me to look for it Barbara:
      https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/29997987/william-dearborn-alvord

      Like

      • Looks like he was almost 2 years old when he died and his mother was 36 when she gave birth to him. Looks like she was the third wife of his father and he was her second husband. Oh my, the research project I would begin if they were on my family tree. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Quite an interesting family tree isn’t it? I am glad you asked me that and who knew the answer would come up so quickly! You would have an interesting time researching here!

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  3. My mother loved to walk through old cemeteries like this and we spent many Sunday afternoons doing that. Our family cemetery joke was “People are just dying to get in here!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Your mother would have liked this one Kate – small but quaint. I loved the tombstone names and descriptions. The last old cemetery had these rambling roses along the wrought-iron fence – all light pink and gorgeous and some of the trees were so decrepit they had branches that almost touched the ground.
      Your family joke was fun too.

      Like

  4. ruthsoaper says:

    That was fun Linda. Last year my dad and his cousin visited a cemetery in Detroit where his Grandmother is buried. She died in 1935. They were able to identify the plot through cemetery records. Then had to dig down about two or three inches to uncover the grave stone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked it Ruth – I am so glad I went to it as it was interesting to walk around. That is fascinating about uncovering the old grave stone and how much the ground sank. There were a few gravestones here that were sunk down, cracked in half and grass growing in between the pieces of stone.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean says:

    Great joke! I like your mother’s sense of humor. The photos of the old gravestones are cool. I enjoy contemplating what kind of life the dearly departed lived whenever I get into one of those very old sections of a cemetery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked it Ally – I wonder if it was Mom’s own original joke? I remember you did the post on visiting the old graveyard and I might have mentioned at the time I intended to visit this one someday. These dearly departed unfortunately were moved several times before they got to their final resting place. It was not secluded enough to be creepy like the last time and I knew I’d save it for Halloween week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Margy says:

    I like visiting cemeteries – history written by the everyday man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, they are fascinating to go through and see the names and wonder about these people and how many descendants they might have who visit. One of the veteran’s graves had a small American flag on it.

      Like

  7. Joni says:

    Very interesting Linda…..I like to read old tombstones, and am surprised how many of them are still legible after all that time. Your mother’s joke was funny! Ah….Halloween will soon be upon us and one of my neighbours has quite the display, complete with smoke and screaming – I’ll have to get some photos…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked it Joni – I went by there today and I think I should have gone in the Fall as leaves were all over the place, stuck to the tombstones and gathered in piles where the wind had moved them. I remembered my mom’s joke when walking through here and decided to include it. 🙂 We had a neighbor did many years ago she was a schoolteacher and had three kids – one kid was in my class. She used dry ice to make purple and green haze around her porch for special effects and lots of spooky music. Hope your pictures of them and the moon come out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        The neighbour had a smoke machine and a Bride of Frankenstein which screamed and moved when you clapped your hands, and some bony skeleton buried in blue light – see blog! What fun the kids had!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Oh how fun – our neighbor down the street had a tame display compared to that … that was about 1967 which was the year I stopped trick-or-treating but I can remember standing on her porch taking it all in. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great tour Linda! Lots of history in there! If those tombstones could talk!
    Tofino’s original cemetery is on Morpheus island and has 44 souls. They stopped burying them there because the last one fell out of the boat (rough weather) and they ended up having to drag the bottom.
    A very beautiful spot out there!
    Those tombstones pitch due to ground heave (frost) and or tree roots.
    The average Joe back than had limestone tombstones,but the rich people got granite!
    The Limestone tombstones eroded over time because of acid rain. Carbonic acid slowly ate the Limestone tombstones.
    Granite is far harder,so all those rich people can impress many more people in the future ……..not even born yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I remember you did a post about Morpheus Island one time, or I read it when I first started following you. I was amazed and they had crudely made markers if I remember correctly.

      Thank you for the info on the tombstones Wayne and why some held up better than others. I didn’t know that. You noticed that there was a doctor there, a veteran – and the lettering was so clear. A fellow blogger mentioned “Little Willie” and I Googled around on “Find a Grave” and found out about him – just a year old. It gave his last name, but they put “Little Willie” which I found interesting. I drove past there today and the leaves were swirling around and banking up on the tombstones and corners of the cemetery – would have made a spookier picture I think. I was glad I stopped.

      Like

  9. That is quite a graveyard!! I loved your mother’s question about how many people were buried in one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I liked it better than the one I went to a couple of years ago. It was easier to walk around at this one and see all of the gravestones. I drove past it today and the wind had kicked up, the leaves were fluttering down and swirling around and had drifted next to some of the tombstones – much spookier looking than when I was there in the Summer. That was a funny question my mother posed and I fell for it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. bekitschig says:

    As kids we thought it was really cool to walk around the cemetary in the dark — I wouldn’t do that today if you paid me 😉 Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Michael says:

    Ooh the stories they could tell….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, imagine all those years ago Michael. I Googled around for “Little Willie” – I don’t know why they used this name, no last name and he died at one year old. The words were archaic and the whole place had a fun vintage feel to it.

      Like

  12. Laurie says:

    Maybe you will think I am weird, but I love wandering around graveyards and imagining the life stories of people who lived long ago. I would not go there at night, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Nope, I don’t think you are weird at all Laurie … I enjoyed the stroll at this graveyard – it was easier to take in all the sights than the last one which covered more ground and the back part of it was too far from the road for my comfort level. I like the descriptions and names – a real vintage treat. I wouldn’t go there at night either. I passed by there today and the wind was howling – we had very high winds and leaves were swirling around and ending up in piles near the stones … it would have been a better day than last time for a photo op.

      Like

  13. We have a very small graveyard on the other side of 2 houses from us. We live in a small township and it is for us township people. It too, has old stone headstones and we like to read them as well. What a great post for Halloween Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love the moments when you pull out words of wisdom from your mom that make you smile. That’s quite an interesting cemetery. It reminds me of the small cemetery my mom is buried in. Walking through the area and reading the history shared there on the markers makes us realize life is lived between the dashes (not to sound cliche). I also like seeing the different types of lichen that form on the stones. Nice post, Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Prior... says:

    I like your photos of the old cemetery and cute humor with your mom’s question

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked them Yvette. I passed by there the other day and there were leaves skittering across the cemetery, banking up on the headstones – next old cemetery I go to will be when it is more desolate looking – maybe snow. I have one more old cemetery to try sometime in the next few years. My mom had a lot of funny things she said. Today I did a Wordless Wednesday post of a Canada Goose falling asleep – it did remind me of me and my mom would ask me if I was counting the cracks in my eyelids. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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