Albion Interactive History / Riverside Cemetery

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Buildings / Public Parks

Riverside Cemetery, S. Superior, 1837

Historic Designation +
Albion Area Historical Architectural Survey, 1985
State Register Listed, August 29, 1996

State Register of Historic Places

Riverside Cemetery Complex, ID Number P878
Photo Information: The Riverside Cemetery Complex.
Significant Dates: 1837
State Register Listed: 08/29/1996
Marker Erected: 03/10/1997

Narrative Description
The Riverside Cemetery Complex sits on forty-six acres of terraced hillside on the east bank overlooking the mill pond and south branch of the Kalamazoo River. The lawn cemetery has a north-south orientation with additions extending north, south and west of the original 1.5-acre plot. There have been several prominent structures erected in the cemetery including an office, receiving vault (1886), mausoleum (1914), maintenance garage (1938) and fishpond (1902) along with three family mausolea. Saint John Catholic Cemetery, at one time an adjacent three-acre parcel, is now totally within the cemetery boundary. The cemetery sits on an exquisitely landscaped parcel of land dominated by majestic oaks, maples, pines and spruces. The cemetery includes a nursery. All combine to give this well-maintained and landscaped cemetery a serene park-like atmosphere.

Statement of Significance
The Riverside Cemetery Complex is significant both for its architecture and art as well as for the notable individuals interred within its graves. The Riverside Cemetery Complex, originally known as the Albion Burying Ground or Albion Cemetery, is located on an eighty-acre parcel of land purchased by Jesse Crowell from Ann M. Warner on July 9, 1836, according to the Register of Deeds office. The first interment in the cemetery was in September 1837. There are several markers in the Old Grounds that predate the establishment of the cemetery. These are the remains reinterred from earlier private burial places on family farms and residences. The land remained in Crowell’s possession until February 1, 1838, when he transferred ownership to the Albion Company, an investment group of which he was a member. On March 4, 1842, the Albion Company sold the Albion Burying Grounds to the Albion Cemetery Corporation. The Albion Township Board of Health operated the cemetery. The cemetery remained under the control of the Board of Health until 1885, when control and record keeping was assumed by the city of Albion under the auspices of a cemetery board. The cemetery continues to serve the city of Albion.

Marker Text
RIVERSIDE CEMETERY | The first burial in this cemetery occurred in 1837, the year Michigan became a state. The previous year, land developer Jesse Crowell had purchased a one and one-half-acre parcel; he later cleared it for burials. 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 World War I veterans. A private Catholic cemetery contains the remains of people from Italy, Lithuania and Poland. | SIDE TWO | 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 mausolea, 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 gang-land style before he could appear before a grand jury and testify regarding corruption.

Source: Michigan’s Historic Sites Online, Downloaded 2003.

The Albion Burying Ground was established in 1837, the same year Michigan became a state. The first burial occurred that year. Theburying ground was named Riverside Cemetery in 1886, a reflection of its geographical location along the picturesque banks of the Kalamazoo River. The receiving vault was built in 1886 by Stephen Gregory (1837-1916), a local monument maker (Passic, 1991).

The east bank of the south branch of the Kalamazoo River was chosen as the final resting place for Albion’s pioneers by Jesse Crowell in 1837. The Albion Company purchased one and a half acres from James Howard November 2, 1838 for the sum of $2. Several markers in the old grounds predate the establishment of the cemetery, reflecting the removal of remains from other burial sites. The second land acquisition occurred in 1853, when Albion Township Board of Health (then proprietor) paid $261.60 to Jesse Crowell and William Morrison for 13.22 acres. The City of Albion took over cemetery operations after becoming chartered in 1885. In October of 1885, the City purchased an additional 12 acres of land from the Kinney family for $1,600. At the same time, the Kinneys also sold an adjacent three-acre parcel to St. John Catholic Church. In 1886, the name Riverside was adopted after it was proposed by Albion’s first mayor, Charles F. Austin. In 1914 a 16-acre parcel was purchased from Ella Height for $3,750, bringing the cemetery to its current size.

Starting from one and a half acres over 150 years ago, Albion Burying Grounds has grown to the 46-acre Riverside Cemetery, owned and operated by the City of Albion. Within its boundaries lie Albion’s war heroes and scoundrels, famous and infamous, bankers, merchants, farmers. In its entirety, Riverside is the history of Albion, a commemoration of life (LaNoue, 1990).

Receiving vault at Riverside Cemetery, built in 1886 by Stephen Gregory (1837-1916), a local monument maker.

Source: Frank Passic. A Pictorial History of Albion, Michigan; From the Archives of the Albion Historical Society. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media Corporation. 1991.

Source: Isaac Kremer, 2000

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