The first dead were probably buried in Warren Union Cemetery in 1845. A couple of the gravestones date 3-5 years before than that, but were probably moved there after Peter Gillette – a farmer – sold the land to the villagers. Elsey Hough, wife of D.A. Denison, dead aged 24 in 1840, is one such example, along with James Orison Denizon, dead aged 20.
Life was rough back then in Warren Township, a small farming outpost between Detroit and Mt. Clemens along the Red Run River. Settlers had to clear untamed forests, drain mosquito-infested swamps, and plow stony, muddy fields, all while staying on the lookout for bears, wolves, and other wild animals. There were no policemen, no firefighters, and no doctors – nothing.
Historians believe that dozens of infants were buried in Warren Union Cemetery in unmarked graves in the town’s early years. It would’ve been easy to give up, to pack your bags and hightail it down to Detroit, but enough people persevered. By the 1890s, Warren Township was prosperous and growing, with a quaint dirt Main Street lined with brick and mortar shops.
Still, they never could’ve imagined what Warren Township would become.
Today, Warren Union Cemetery is tucked away in a quiet subdivision in the city of Warren, Michigan, the kind where kids play basketball after school, moms bring home plastic bags full of groceries in the family SUV, and dad sits in front of the TV after work. No one they know is buried in the cemetery. Many of the gravestones are illegible, the words worn away by time. Others have been replaced by more modern markers.
Whatever memory remains is obscured by the near constant hum of automobiles. If you’re lucky, when the gentle roar lets up for a brief moment, you might hear the ominous ring of the bells of the St. Paul United Church of Christ echoing down Red Run.
Hier ruht in gott.