Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

RIVERSIDE CEMETERY FENCE

Morning Star, December 17, 2000, pg. 19

Just seven shopping days until Christmas. Want to give an unusual "extra" gift to someone this year? Try one of my Albion history books available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce. There’s still time to drive down there this week and get one. I would also like you to consider one of my Riverside Cemetery tour program booklets to put in the stocking. Although the subject may seem a bit morbid, these programs are actually are filled with some very interesting Albion history, as well as biographies of people from Albion’s past. Especially popular have been my two "Ethnic Tours" of the cemetery, and of course the pioneers of Albion tours. Anyway, be sure and look these over when you’re at the Chamber. You’ll be surprised at what’s in ‘em.

We all know about the theft of antique urns at the cemetery last year, and that one suggestion has been made to fence off the cemetery after hours. But did you know that there used to be a fence around Riverside Cemetery? When Albion became a city in 1885, the cemetery land was annexed into its boundaries. A cemetery board was established, and 12 more acres were purchased by the city, as well as 3 acres by the Catholic Church for its burials. Soon the new property was surveyed by Ezra C. Robertson for cemetery use.

Part of the improvements of the new property included building a fence along the front, along Riverside Drive, now M-99/S. Superior St. This was a wooden plank fence that ran the entire length of the front of the cemetery up to that time. It consisted of four horizontal boards in each section. The top and bottom boards were fashioned with a rounded trim, and the entire fence was painted white.

At the entranceway to Riverside Cemetery were placed two decorative wooden posts, and a swinging wire fence which closed the cemetery to traffic during off hours. There also was one of those decorative iron arches between/above the two entrance posts, filled with embellishments and designs.

Although I knew that this fence once existed, this writer has never seen a photograph of it until one surfaced recently. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a rare photograph of the Riverside Cemetery fence, which actually complements the scenery. This was printed on a picture postcard made by C. R. Childs postcards of Chicago which produced a series of cemetery cards. These cards date approximately 1910. Notice the beautiful fence and entrance posts. The arch is present and is hard to make out due to light contrast but is easily seen when the photo is enlarged.

While the monuments appear just about as they do today, notice all of the trees in the cemetery back then. The cemetery was much wooded when Jesse Crowell originally laid it out in the 1837s, and many of these trees lasted for many years. Several large storms however toppled numerous limbs and trees, particularly in 1953, the year of the deadly Flint tornado. Being elevated, the Cemetery has suffered the brunt of windstorms and possible tornadoes. Thus the tree population has been diminished compared to earlier years.

On the tree on the right in front of the Sheldon Mausoleum is posted a regulation sign that reads, "NOTICE. ALL PERSONS ARE FORBIDDEN TO WILLFULLY PLUCK FLOWERS OR TO DISTURB OR INJURE PROPERTY ON THESE GROUNDS UNDER PENALTY."

What happened to the beautiful white fence? It appears that the fence was removed around World War I or soon thereafter. The fence is missing in photographs from the 1920s. Perhaps someday it could be replaced.


Old fence around Riverside Cemetery

Next: 1894 PICTORIAL SOUVENIR OF ALBION


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