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.


Albion Recorder, May 12, 1997, pg. 4

The Riverside Cemetery records were computerized in 1989 with the help of Parks and Cemetery Superintendent Susan Crawford, and her assistant Tom Leary. Leary continued work begun by former sexton M. John Fox and updated the cemetery records by researching death records in Marshall, as well as recording information from tombstones throughout Riverside. Ruth Kaiser and others typed up the material at the Albion Volunteer Service Center. A master computerized copy containing nearly all the information on the original 3 x 5 cards was printed, as well as an abbreviated version for visitors to the cemetery to quickly look up the burial locations of their ancestors. A copy of the master print-out is available in the local history room at the Albion Public Library.

I decided to pursue the goal of a state historic site designation and marker for Riverside Cemetery. The idea had been conceived in the 1980s by former sexton M. John Fox and later explored by Parks and Cemetery Superintendent Susan Crawford Riske. Riske worked with me on the project before her departure in 1995.

I give a guided tour of selected interments at the Cemetery in October of each year, which are well attended by area residents. I researched the history of the cemetery during 1994 and 1995, and was able to provide documentation of early land ownership and other facts previously unknown. I typed and assembled an extensive and comprehensive history of the cemetery with supporting documentation as part of the application process for consideration of Riverside Cemetery as a State Historical Site. With the help of Albion City Manager Lew Steinbracher and the Albion City Council, the inch-thick application was completed and sent to the Michigan Historical Commission.

On August 29, 1996, the Michigan Historical Commission listed Riverside Cemetery in the State Register of Historic Sites (Site No. L1986). Permission was granted to erect an historical marker, which was funded by the Albion Civic Foundation. The marker is to be dedicated on Sunday, May 18, 1997 at 2:00 p.m.

The text states: “Riverside Cemetery. The first burial in this cemetery occurred in 1937, the year Michigan became a state. Land developer Jesse Crowell had purchased a one and one-half acre parcel in 1836, and cleared it in 1837 for use as a burial ground. In 1842, Crowell sold the land to the Albion Cemetery Corporation for two dollars. The cemetery was enlarged in 1853, 1885, and 1914, resulting in a total of forty-six acres. Reflecting Albion’s ethnically diverse population, the cemetery has areas known as “The Russian Section,” “German Hill,” and a section for African-American veterans from World War I. A private Catholic cemetery contains the remains of people from Italy, Lithuania, and Poland.”

Side 2. “Originally known as Albion Cemetery and Albion Burying Ground, this cemetery was named Riverside in 1886 by the City Council. In addition to a unique array of tombstones, the cemetery includes impressive mausoleum, an office, a receiving vault and a fishpond. Riverside Cemetery contains the remains of Albion pioneers and veterans as well as distinguished and notorious citizens. Those interred here include Washington Gardner (1845-1928), who served in the U.S. Congress and as Michigan’s Secretary of State; and Michigan State Senator Warren G. Hooper (1905-1945) who was shot gangland style before he could appear before a grand jury and testify regarding corruption. This marker was funded by the Albion Civic Foundation. Pictured here is the Riverside Cemetery historical marker.

State Historic Site Marker for Riverside Cemetery


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