Wednesday, December 8, 2010

1884 Oakwood Cemetery

Originally, the "new" cemetery at the northeast corner of East Grand River and Cemetery Road was called Oakwood -- in later years, it would become Greenwood Cemetery. The first-known cemetery for the village of Fowlerville was located closer to the center of town, maps of which you can find in my book, The Fowlerville Chronicles.

As lore would have it, Ralph Fowler reportedly was not interested in the new cemetery, basically not wanting to rest for eternity in a former swamp. Some newspaper articles supported this thinking, but then recently, I came across this blurb published in The Fowlerville Review in 1884. This was the same year the "new" cemetery was created. It would seem he "bought" into the newly-formed cemetery.

Ralph Fowler has purchased some lots in Oakwood cemetery and will proceed to remove the remains of his kin now in the old ground to the former.

But then a few weeks later, it was reported:

Mr. Ralph Fowler will not remove his deceased relatives to the new cemetery and wishes us to state as his reasons that he had a hole dug in the new grounds and it filled about half full of water.

F.G. Rounsville must not have had a problem with the new cemetery, though, as it was reported, F.G. Rounsville has contracted for a fine granite monument to be erected on his lot in the new cemetery during the summer.

But then G.L. Adams offered up this opinion piece,

There has been a great amount of controversy regarding the fitness of the soil in the new cemetery for burial purposes, some claiming that the ground was low and flat and contained water almost the year round. It will also be remembered that by the request of Mr. R. Fowler, we last week stated that he would not remove the remains of his deceased relatives to the new grounds on account of the water standing in a hole he had caused to be dug for the purpose of a test. After giving Mr. Fowler's views, we started in company with Mr. E.E. Walton on a tour of investigation. We found the water standing in the hole just as Mr. Fowler stated it, but upon boaring another hole with a post-auger within two feet of the old hole, we failed to find the least sign of water. The hole Mr. Fowler had dug was about two feet wide, four feet long and tapered to about eight inches square at the bottom. It was dug just after the frost had gone out and the ground was full of water. We dug the post-hole early in the forenoon and examined it again late in the afternoon and it showed not the least appearance of water. Now we have given both sides of the case and leave each one to draw their own conclusions as to the fitness of the ground for a burial place. The ground is bought and paid for and each person can choose for themselves whether they wish to occupy it or let it stand idle. Personally we think it may be made a beautiful city of the dead and as good a selection as could be made under the circumstances, but this is only one opinion and do not expect but that other people should hold different ones. We only regret that the people are not united and satisfied in the matter.

The editor then seemed to keep wanting to convince people this was the best location for the cemetery with,

123 trees were set at Oakwood cemetery and other improvements were made in and around the ground on Arbor Day. Holes were also dug in the cemetery and at a depth of six to seven feet, a nice vein of sand was found, which verifies the fact that it is as good a burial place as the country affords.

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