Daniel Hogan, of Eastpointe, portrays Edwin Egnew,  who is buried in Clinton Grove Cemetery without a marker.

Daniel Hogan, of Eastpointe, portrays Edwin Egnew, who is buried in Clinton Grove Cemetery without a marker.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Ancestors bring past to life at Crocker House Cemetery Walk

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published September 17, 2020

 Brad Thomas, of Clinton Township, the current president  of the cemetery, portrays Edward Clark Gallub, the first  president of Clinton Grove Cemetery. This year’s  Crocker House Cemetery Walk is Oct. 3.

Brad Thomas, of Clinton Township, the current president of the cemetery, portrays Edward Clark Gallub, the first president of Clinton Grove Cemetery. This year’s Crocker House Cemetery Walk is Oct. 3.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MOUNT CLEMENS — What do a husband and wife doctor team, a scientist who advocated the healing benefits of mineral baths and a man with three wives have in common?

They’ll all be brought back to life at the Clinton Grove Cemetery next month.

The Crocker House Cemetery Walk will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Clinton Grove Cemetery, 21189 Cass Ave., featuring reenactors portraying historical figures of Mount Clemens’ past who have their final resting place in the Michigan historical cemetery.

“What makes this year special is, we’re celebrating our sesquicentennial and 165 years for the cemetery,” said Kim Parr, director of The Crocker House Museum and Macomb County Historical Society, 15 Union Street in Mount Clemens.

To that end, she said the current president of the cemetery, Brad Thomas, will be portraying the first president of the cemetery, Edward Clark Gallup. All of the ancestors on the tour are related to the mineral bath area that Mount Clemens was known for.

“It’s like theater in the cemetery,” she said. “It tells them, this is where our history is.”

Experiencing history in the park-like atmosphere of the cemetery, where trees just as old as the graves they shade provide the perfect backdrop for the event, makes the cemetery walk unique.

“We need to take care of these historic places,” Parr said.

The first stop on the tour is John Meyer, an 11th child born in Germany in 1855 who went on to make the mineral waters of Mount Clemens famous with his research into the benefits of mineral baths. Rick Katon, of Ypsilanti, portrays Meyer in a charmingly conversational manner. Instead of a historical recitation, the reenactors on the walk bring the ancestors back to life with jokes, asides and conversations about what life was like back in the late-1800s to early-1900s. Meyer, for instance, was an avid bowler into his 80s, but people may not know that bowling was a popular pastime in the early part of the 20th century.

Lynn Anderson, of Clinton Township, portrays Nellie Murphy, who first came to Michigan to care for her aunt’s children in Alpena and who then followed another family she worked for to Mount Clemens and ended up working in a bath house, where she fell in love with, and married, the proprietor.

“What an adventure it was living here in Mount Clemens,” Anderson, dressed in a flapper dress, tells visitors.

Anderson, a local actress, has been participating as a reenactor in the cemetery walk for many years. She said she enjoys bringing history to life, especially to help children realize that a cemetery isn’t a place to be feared.

“There’s too much of erasing history going on,” she said, adding that instead of forgetting the past, she’d like to explain it so we can learn from it.

“Here’s how we know what we did was wrong,” she said. “You can’t force today’s standards on the past.”

Everyone has a story, she said.

“I want these people to see these people aren’t just names on a tombstone,” Anderson said. “Everyone is special. Let’s bring them to life.”

This is the 14th year the Crocker House has held a cemetery walk. This year, seven ancestors will return to life over six stops along the timed tour. Participants will also enjoy cider and doughnuts. Parr said they’re hoping this year’s tour raises enough money to pay for a marker for one of the ancestors on the tour — Edwin Egnew — whose final resting place next to his third wife is unmarked. Any funds raised above and beyond what is needed for the marker will be used for grave marker restoration.

Thomas said he was interested to learn about the life of the first president of the cemetery, Edward Clark Gallup. The only thing Thomas knew about Gallup before the walk was that there was a street named for him near where Thomas went to school. He said many of the names on grave markers in the cemetery reflect street names in the area. He was interested to learn that one of Gallup’s grandchildren was still alive when Thomas was born.

He said he hopes the tour shows more people what the still-functioning Clinton Grove Cemetery has to offer.

“People think we’re closed, (but) we’re good for 100 years,” he said.

Elizabeth and Charlie McQuillen, of Grosse Pointe Woods, will portray Dr. Alice J. Smith Hayward and Dr. Abner Hayward. Elizabeth McQuillen said she was happy to be bringing a female doctor to life.

“The joke is, I’m a Ph.D., but now he gets to be a doctor, too,” she said of her husband.

In character, the Haywards talked about the benefits of a course of 21 mineral baths and a massage for “inebriety” and how they would serve their guests bottled water from a spring.

The Crocker House Cemetery Walk is sponsored by the Harold W. Vick Funeral Home, 140 S. Main Street, and Mary E. Vick Spaulding. Parr said they felt that, because it is outdoors, it would be a fun, safe event for the fall. Timed tickets are available online at www.crockerhousemuseum.org or by calling (586) 465-2488. Tickets cost $15 for members of the Macomb County Historical Society and $20 for non-members.

Advertisement