Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 26, 1997, pg. 23
A big thank you to all those who attended my “Ethnic Tour of Riverside Cemetery, Part 2” on October 12. The weather was great and we had a great crowd of over 100 persons, including many relatives of those we featured that day. A reminder: I have extra copies of the 19-page tour programs available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce while the supply lasts. These are excellent historical references and you’ll want to get one for your library. Video copies of the tour are available from Larry Brooks at Brooks Sales & Service (517) 629-9683.
The land upon which Riverside Cemetery sits was once part of an 80-acre plot of land in Albion Township. The first land entry on the property was made on July 4, 1834, when it was purchased from the U.S. Government by Betsey Lewis (1798-1851) of Monroe County, New York. She subsequently settled in Albion with her husband Lucius. Betsey sold the property to Ann M. Warner (1805-1853) on January 18, 1836 for the sum of $400. Ann was a daughter of prominent Albion pioneer Wareham Warner.
Thus the first two owners of the property where our cemetery sits were women--an historical quick in the days when it was normally the men who owned the land. A revealing hint of the role of women in those days is brought out in the sale deed of Betsey Lewis to Ann M. Warner. On this indenture is written a notation by Isaac Hall, Commissioner of Deeds, “And the said Betsey acknowledged on a private examination, apart from her husband, that she executed the same freely and without fear or compulsion of him.”
No, Betsey didn’t execute her husband. Rather, it is specifically stated that she sold (executed sale) the land out of her own free will without pressure from her husband.
Ann Warner sold the land to Jesse Crowell on July 9, 1836 for the sum of $1,000. Thus Ann came out $600 ahead in just 6 months time. Crowell then chose a 1½ acre plot from the land for use as a community cemetery, and subsequently cleared and prepared the site. By the fall of 1837 it was ready for the first burial, that of Harlow Green, in September. The rest is history.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a copy of the record of the original land purchase from the U.S. government. This is in the section of entries for Albion Township, or Township No. 3 South, Range No. 4 West. This 80-acre plot went from Irwin Avenue on the north, S. Eaton Street on the west, the present cemetery east boundary on the east, to near the southern end to the south. It is described as the “west half of the southwest quarter of Section 2” in this entry, with Betsey Lewis’ name following. Other purchasers of land in Section 2 included Ephraim Harrison, Darius Pierce, Tenney Peabody, Ashael Warner, and Marvin Hannahs.
If you’d like to find out who purchased the land you own from the U.S. Government in the 1830s, this ledger is readily available in the Calhoun County Clerk’s office.
The Original Land Purchase for Riverside Cemetery
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic