Russell Street Cemetery
Russell Street Cemetery
Gratiot Avenue and Russell Street
Russell Street Cemetery was the second City Cemetery established May 31, 1834. The mayor purchased 55 acres of land on the Guion Farm, north of Gratiot Road and bounded on the west by Russell Street. The tract was too large for a cemetery, so only 35 acres of land were divided into lots and sold. A plan (plat map) was drawn and lots were sold at $10 for a full lot and $5 for a half lot.
Originally, the City Sexton was in charge of the grounds and sold the lots, however from 1841 to 1863 sales were made by the City Clerk's Office, and after 1863, the City Controller was in charge of the care of the grounds and the sale of lots.
On April 20, 1869, it was ordered that no more bodies be buried on the grounds and on May 14, 1879, an order of the Circuit Court issued vacating the cemetery completely. The reasoning behind this order was the land here was far too valueable for cemetery use, and its location along Gratiot, a main artery, accessible to farmers and consumers alike, made it an ideal location for a market. (Now Eastern Market).
The first market buildings appeared in the 1880's and by 1921, the City of Detroit filed a petition to enlarge Eastern Market.
The first removals were in 1877, then in 1880 the City removed 1,493 remains at a cost of $2,019, and buried these at Grosse Pointe, a portion of the hostpital grounds there, having been set apart for the purpose of a cemetery.
In 1881 1,668 additional bodies were removed, and during 1882 the last of the 1,357 bodies were removed, some to be re-interred at Elmwood Cemetery.
The House of Corrections and the Hay and Wood Markets were the first buildings located on the sites of the previous graves, later Eastern Market covered the entire area.
Some burials found to have been originally located in the Russell Street Cemetery are:
Mary McDonald 1814 - 1859 ; reinterred: Woodmere
Rose McDonald 1796 - 1856 ; reinterred: Woodmere
Willie McDonald reinterred on October 2, 1877: Woodmere
James Witherell 1759 - 1838 ; reinterment at Elmwood Cemetery.
There is a book entitled Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery, which contains historic studies of the Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit. It was written by Krepps, Karen L in 1984 and contains 65 pages with maps. The book code is: 74D4 719 K883.
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