In our initial story, we learned the first semi-official Lansing cemetery is the current 1200 block of Turner Street in Old Town. The second graveyard is now two commercial blocks south of Saginaw east of Cedar. The third property mentioned in last weekâ€™s installment is the current Oak Park on Lansingâ€™s east side.
It was deeded by the Seymour brothers to the town of Lansing December 1, 1851 and recorded November 9, 1852. No explanation is given why it took 11 months to file the paperwork. In Cowlesâ€™ account, he merges the second and third cemeteries as a single unit. Oak Park served as the town’s (then the city’s) burying ground for more than 20 years.
St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, formerly St. Maryâ€™s, on West Willow was founded in 1865.
In 1869 the city decided a larger expanse was needed to accommodate the growing cadaverous population. Durant explains â€œafter a careful examination of several localitiesâ€ the 80-acre farm of John and Rebecca Miller was purchased May 6, 1873 for $8,000. This new cemetery, Mt. Hope, still serves the good people of Ingham County.
Upon the opening of Mt. Hope in 1874, Oak Park ceased burials. Ownership of unoccupied, but purchased, lots was transferred to Mt. Hope and re-internment began. By most accounts it was not completed until 1880. However, sources, Cowles and LSJ articles cite a failure to remove all bodies.
[/caption]Long-time Lansing Parks Superintendent H. Lee Bancroft is quoted in a 1953 article stating â€œ[I}n 1902 there were still burials that had not been transferred.â€ He recounts as a child seeing a workman nonchalantly â€œthrowingâ€ half a skeleton and skull from a grave stating â€œNother dead ‘un!â€. After becoming a park in 1900, a small lake was excavated on the north end and fountains installed. In his 1949 article Story of Parks and Cemeteries, he describes children wading into â€œthe deep muck of the lake.â€ Unfortunately the fountains were too much temptation for children who dove â€œinto the dirty or mucky water and the fountains had to be removed.â€
Clarification: The railroad mentioned in the first installment, which bisected the properties east of Larch happened in 1863, a decade after the purchase of the Oak Park location by the city, not the state donation of lots in 1848.
Next weekâ€™s Lost Lansing will complete the story of early Lansing cemeteries. We will visit the grave of an unknown Fire Fighter, experience African American Civil War veterans receiving their official markers after a hundred years and find out that the most recent Lansing cemetery might really be the oldest.
Past and Present of the City of Lansing by Albert Cowles
History of Ingham and Eaton Counties by Samuel Durant
Lansing Republican (August 8, 1878)
Lansing State Journal April 17, 1949)
Lansing State Journal (August 9, 1953)
1859 Topographical Map of Ingham County
Story of Parks and Cemeteries by H. Lee Bancroft Superintendent of Lansing Parks 1949
A Sesquicentennial Guide Book of the Railroads of Lansing & Ingham County From 1862 to 1987 by Henry A Reniger , Jr