Tag Archives: Cemeteries

Centuries-old cemetery defaults to Michigan township after owner cannot be found

ATLAS TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN — Tucked behind a row of residential properties and Atlas Township’s only historical church is a small, family cemetery that houses the remains of Sally Hebbard, a direct descendant of a military leader on the Mayflower, and Norman Davison, a War of 1812 veteran who served as a part of Michigan’s earliest government.

Formerly known as Atlas Cemetery, Davison originally intended the land to be used as “common grounds,” or public parks and spaces, according to local historian Dawn Bastian.

After his daughter died, he split the property up to make a private cemetery for family and friends.

The property is now the location of some of Michigan’s last standing oak slab headstones, which have been reset multiple times due to wear and tear.

Davison eventually gave the property to his son, Paul Davison, who is recorded as the last known owner of the cemetery.

Paul Davison later moved south and likely never passed on the deed to the property, leaving it unkept and isolated for nearly a century.

Many locals and Atlas Township government officials assumed the private cemetery was kept and cared for by the church that sits in front of it.

When the church changed hands over the years, some would prioritize taking care of the property and others would let it sit.

“I think it is important to respect the people that came before us. They made us who we are today.”


Wesley C.


This is my great-great grandfather‘s grave. Last time I was in South Dakota, I didn’t get a chance to visit this particular cemetery. The sun reflecting off of the stone makes it difficult to read. I can make out Wesley and a C. for Calvin, his middle name, but I don’t see his surname, George. It must be on another stone nearby. He died in 1922.


Morgan & Hannah

Morgan Reynolds (1824-1872)

Saturday evening I decided to poke around on Find a Grave, an online database of cemeteries and gravestones. It is a terrific resource for family historians.

For years I have been searching for the grave of my great-great-great grandfather Morgan Reynolds. He died in 1872, relatively young, at the age of 48. Ever since learning about him and adding him to the family tree, probably in 1989, I have wondered where the man was buried.

So I decided to see what I could find just using the surname and the year of his death. To my amazement, I found a burial for someone named Reynolds who died in August of 1872. Sure enough, this looked like my Morgan.

I then browsed through the others buried in this place I knew nothing about: Greencastle Cemetery in Poweshiek Township, Jasper County, Iowa. His wife Hannah Tallman and at least one daughter were buried there, too.

After more than twenty years of searching, I had found ’em.

Most of my ancestors in this part of Iowa are buried in the Peoria and Graham cemeteries. Graham is situated just a few miles to the northwest of Greencastle.


German Cemeteries in Poland

In response to a query from me, German researcher Martin Sohn of www.genealogy-pomerania.com said in an email message that he “knows that more than 90% (maybe 99%) of all German cemeteries in Poland are destroyed and all Markers (grave stones) are lost.”

This news does not give much hope for the places of my German ancestors in Kreis Bütow, specifically the towns of Bütow (Bytów), Borntuchen (Borzytuchom), and Gröbenzien (Rabacino).

Recently I recently learned via another site that the markers in some German cemeteries in Kreis Bütow were destroyed, likely including those of many relatives.