Starting in the 1830’s, many burials for the earliest settlers
took place at a burial ground located just south of the present city hall.
This was also the site of native American burials prior to the arrival of
William G. Butler. On the other side of the river, Douglas early pioneers
were laid to rest in a lot across Center Street from the present day Dutcher Lodge - Douglas city hall building. In the early 1860’s Saugatuck
and Douglas established the current cemeteries - Riverside Cemetery near
Holland Street and Clearbrook Drive and the Douglas Cemetery which lies
along Wiley Road just southeast of Douglas.
In addition to these burying
grounds, many graves existed on private property as evidenced by this
proclamation in the 1869 Commercial Record…“the (township) Board of Health
has ordered the removal of all graves now lying outside of cemetery lots
and also those lying in the town alleys. Such graves will be moved by the
authorities unless immediately removed by their relatives or friends.”
This edict no doubt enhanced the income of grave diggers and created
emotional turmoil for the living.
The oldest recorded death date for the
burials in the Riverside cemetery is the wife of William G. Butler, Mary
W. Butler, who died in January of 1835 and is interred in the spaces of
the Butler family deed, where the present day monument is located. She was
no doubt moved from the old burying ground on the Butler Street “flats”.
The first recorded burial in the Douglas Cemetery is Erastus B. Pratt who
died in 1861 and is in Grave 4 of Jared Pratt’s Deed just South of Wiley
Road and West of Dove street in the Cemetery. The oldest deed – which is a
lot ownership record - was actually for the Douglas Cemetery, purchased
for five dollars and twenty-five cents by Mrs. G. Mack on November 4th
1872. Riverside has a total of 3420 recorded interments, and Douglas has
The maintenance of both cemeteries and sexton records of all
interments remain in the procession of the Saugatuck Township. These
records give interesting clues as to family members, lives and deaths of
residents and represent an extremely valuable collection of historical
by Jack Sheridan
can be proud - both of our beautiful Cemeteries and historical
records are professionally maintained and managed by the Saugatuck
Township. The burial records have been digitized by the Township and
in cooperation with Interment.net (a cemetery transcription library)
the records are easily searched by going to the web site
www.interment.net. Enter a surname and select the state of Michigan
and - Shazam! - you are on your way to researching family history.
Click on view all to see the Remembering When ...
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