Pontiac Village and City Cemeteries
THE FIRST DEATH. Miss Lovina Mack died on the 2d of September, 1823, and this is believed to have been the first death of an adult white woman in Oakland County.
Colonel Stephen Mack died in November, 1826, and was buried on his own land, as was also his daughter, on the east side of the river and south of Pike street. The bodies were afterwards disinterred and buried in Oak Hill cemetery.
CEMETERIES. The earliest burials in Pontiac were on Colonel Stephen Mack's land on the ridge east of the river, and on the corner of Saginaw and Huron streets, as early as 1819-20. About 18 22 three men named Price, Jackson and Harding and were buried at the last-named location; but whether it was on the Presbyterian corner or one of the others is not satisfactorily shown. A number of persons were interred on the corner afterwards occupied by the Presbyterian church, and their bones have been recently disinterred.
In February, 1839, the village trustees procured a deed of outlot No. 9 of the original plat, which said lot was surveyed and subdivided in April of that year by Captain Hervey Parke, and lot No. 11 of the subdivision was set apart for a public burying-ground. This was the beginning of "Oak Hill" cemetery.
In July, 1839, Messrs. Hodges and Peck were appointed a committee to see to the grubbing and clearing of the ground, the expenses of which were to be paid from proceeds of sales of village lots belonging to the corporation. The ground was probably fenced in 1840.
The expense of surveying and platting amounted to twenty-five dollars, and the lots were appraised at from one to five dollars each.
In 1848, James A. Weeks was appointed register and recorder for the cemetery.
In 1855 a new fence was built around the grounds.
In 1861, A. L. Smith was appointed to take charge of the cemetery.
In September, 1868, James A. Weeks was employed to make a new record for the cemetery.
The interments in "Oak Hill" cemetery for the year ending March, 1870, numbered forty-three.
The present area of the cemetery is about eleven acres, and it 'is very finely laid out, with two broad avenues crossing each other and running through near the centre of the ground each way; and also a wide avenue alone, the margin on the south, east, and west sides.
The topography of the locality is exceedingly fine and picturesque, being on the summit and slopes of several knolls, and having a considerable hill in the southeastern part, which rises quite abruptly from the central and southern avenues. The entire ground is pleasantly shaded by a natural grove of oak, which, with commendable taste, has been allowed to remain and beautify the spot.
There are many fine and elaborately sculptured monuments in place, and the whole cemetery is exceedingly well kept, and a cause of just pride to the people of Pontiac.
The Catholics have a very beautiful and tastefully-ornamented cemetery near Orchard Lake avenue, a few rods beyond the toll-gate. It contains about five acres, and has been christened by the appropriate name of '" Mount Hope Cemetery." It is comparatively new and unimproved, and lacks the charms which the native forest-trees give to "Oak Hill;" but the ground is dry and sufficiently rolling to make it susceptible of pleasant and agreeable arrangement and ornamentation, which will undoubtedly come with the lapse of time.
Many of the remains which were interred in private grounds in the early days have been transferred to "Oak Hill" and "Mount Hope," which year by year are becoming more beautiful and interesting, as one by one the silver-haired pioneers are carried to their last earthly resting-place.
"There is a balm for those who weep,A rest for weary pilgrims found,Where they may lie and sweetly sleepLow in the ground."
Source: History of Oakland County, Michigan by Durant, Samuel W. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & co., 1877.