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.