Mt. Evergreen Cemetery Tour A Walk through Jackson’s Past

While spending an afternoon in a cemetery might not sound like the best way to spend your day it is probably one of the best ways to learn about Jackson’s past and those they helped build this town. In Jackson County there are 41 cemeteries. 15 are currently active, 9 are abandoned, 2 are owned by corporations and 3 are owned by the City of Jackson and one is privately owned by a family.

The land in Mt.Evergreen Cemetery is the only unaltered land in Jackson County. Meaning nothing has been done to alter the landscape, this cemetery has been built around every hill and tree. This cemetery founded on August 18th, 1843 was created because the City of Jackson had no public resting place. Originally consisting of 11 acres and expanded to its now 25 acres. Morrell Street was moved north to create an area dedicated for the burial of soldiers. Soldiers from the War of 1812, the American Civil War and both World War 1 and 2 are buried here. All interment records prior to 1917 were lost due to a massive fire in 1917.

The following information pertain to most cemeteries.

When visiting a cemetery there are certain guidelines you should follow:

  • Be generally respectful and unobtrusive
  • Avoid loud talk and behavior that might disturb those in morning
  • Follow posted rules
  • Never enter a closed cemetery
  • Don’t walk directly on the graves-most traditions interpret this as disrespectful
  • Never disturb the soil or do metal detecting
  • Don’t eat or drink or leave any trash
  • Rubbing of stones is no longer suggested as it wears the stone down, try taking a picture and blowing up the picture to read/see the details
  • Never take coins found on a stone or near a grave

Interesting facts and common symbols:

  • Anchor-often found on a sailor’s grave for hope and eternal life
  • Artillery-often found on a soldier’s grave
  • D.A.R.-Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Eye-usually with a triangle or sun is a Masonic Symbol
  • K of C-Knights of Columbus
  • Lambs-are often on a child’s grave and represent the innocence
  • S.A.R-Sons of the American Revolution
  • Wheat-usually on older person’s grave, represents harvest
  • Coins-leaving a coin on a military grave has a specific meaning
  • Pennies mean you knew the deceased
  • Nickels mean you trained in boot camp with them
  • Dimes mean you served in the same company
  • Quarters mean you were with them when they died

When you walk through Mt.Evergreen Cemetery you will most likely recognize some of the names:

  • W.H. Withington - Medal of Honor recipient, fought in the battle of Bull Run
  • William Sparks - creator of Cascades Falls and Park
  • Peter Loomis - donated the land that Loomis Park now sits on
  • Ella Sharp – of Ella Sharp Museum and Ella Sharp Park
  • Horace Blackman - founder of Jackson
  • Austin Blair - former governor of Michigan

But just as interesting are a few names you may not be familiar with:

  • John Kelly - Medal of Honor recipient
  • Louis Boos - famous musician but not who the Boos Center is named after
  • Col. Christian Rath - carried out the hanging of the people convicted in assassinating President Lincoln
  • Silence Blackman - Jackson’s first teacher
  • William D Filley - as a young boy he was captured by Native Americans and held prisoner for 30 years

I invite you to explore Mt. Evergreen and other cemeteries in Jackson County and learn about Jackson’s past.


--Written by Valerie Chandler Herr

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