Historical society’s annual cemetery walk to focus on ‘Settlers in the Stones’

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 14, 2016


ROCHESTER — The community is invited to take a stroll through time to learn about prominent settlers in Rochester’s history this month.

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society will host its fifth annual Mount Avon Cemetery Walk and Guided Tour 1-4 p.m. Sept. 24 at the cemetery — which is the oldest cemetery in Rochester and the oldest platted cemetery in Oakland County, platted in 1826.

“It was laid out in 1826, when the village of Rochester was laid out, and it was used as an official village burial ground from that time forward, although there has been some evidence shown that there may have been burials happening there even before it was originally platted, so it’s a very old cemetery. Many settlers of this area are buried in that cemetery, and it is on the state register of historic places,” said RAHS member Deborah Larsen.

This year’s tour theme is “Settlers in the Stones.”

“We are coming up on the 200th anniversary of the settlement of Rochester, which is going to be celebrated all during 2017, so we thought we would focus on the people who were here very early. The people that we have chosen this year, some might recognize their names because their names are on streets or buildings in the town. This way, people will learn who that building or that street was named for because they will ‘meet’ the person in the cemetery walk and hear the story,” Larsen said.

Led by tour guides, visitors will walk through the Mount Avon Cemetery and listen to stories of the lives of several settlers buried there. The stories will be told in first person by re-enactors dressed in period costumes.

“This is really a way to bring history to life, by having our actors portray notable people from the Rochester area,” said RAHS President Brian Dunphy.

The timed tours will depart from the cemetery gate at Second and Wilcox streets. Ticketholders should park in the Rochester Community Schools administration building lot at Fourth and Wilcox. Tours will be held rain or shine, but in the event of severe weather, the tours will be canceled and money will be refunded. In the case of rain, the show will go on with umbrellas.

Tickets, which are nonrefundable, cost $15 per person. The proceeds will fund the Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s local history and preservation projects.

“It is one of our biggest fundraising events for the year, and the income that we get from that program helps to support our other educational programs, particularly the monthly evening programs that we have at the library and the monthly brown bag luncheon meetings at the (Rochester) Community House — both of which have speakers and presentations on local history. They have been very well-received,” Dunphy said.

Advance tickets may be purchased at the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce office, 71 Walnut St., Suite 110, or online at www.rochesteravonhistoricalsociety.org by clicking on the online store link. Any tickets not sold in advance will be available for walk-up sales on the day of the event. The number of tickets is limited, so advance purchase is recommended.

For more information about the event, email rahsupdates@gmail.com or call (248) 266-5440.