Warren Garden Club blazes new trails

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published August 21, 2023

 The oldest house on this year’s garden walk is on the historic site of the Gillett-Beer farm.

The oldest house on this year’s garden walk is on the historic site of the Gillett-Beer farm.

Photo by Becky Hetchler

 Moses Wilson was the first to be buried at the Warren Union Cemetery.

Moses Wilson was the first to be buried at the Warren Union Cemetery.

Photo by Becky Hetchler


WARREN — The Warren Garden Club’s garden walk saw a record turnout this year, as the club incorporated historic buildings and historic homes on the walk for the first time, combined with the traditional viewing of gardens at the July 23 event.

“We had a really great turnout. We had over 200 people,” said Carole Wiseman, a member of the Warren Garden Club. “We doubled (our attendance).”

The Warren Garden Club is a very small club compared to others in the area, according to Wiseman.

The club returned to its roots by having the 2023 garden walk in the Village of Warren where the inaugural walk started.

“People were excited to see these homes. Most people, I think, didn’t even know there was a Warren Village,” Wiseman said.

Some of the homes on the walk were among the oldest in the Village. This included the Gillett house, an 1838 farmhouse originally owned by the Gillett family, who settled in Warren in the 1830s. The land was a quarter-mile-square lot where the Gilletts first built a barn, then a log cabin, then the house.

“And I am sure it is one of the oldest continuously lived in houses in Warren,” said Wiseman. “There is a barn on the property, which is even older than the house.”

The property is owned by Arthur and Mary Beer. Arthur, who grew up in the house with his parents, Arthur and Agnes Beer, continued to live there after he married and had children. It was just five or six years ago that they moved a few doors down to a ranch-style home, according to Wiseman.

The Beer family’s roots go deep in Warren. Agnes E. Beer Junior High School was named after Arthur’s mother in 1969.

The Warren Union Cemetery was also on the walk. More than a century old, the historic site serves as the final resting place for several of Warren’s Civil War, World War I and World War II veterans, along with Warren dignitaries.

“There are 24 veterans that we have identified (who) are buried in the cemetery,” Becky Hetchler said. Hetchler is a member of the Historical Commission and answered historical questions about the cemetery for those on the walk.

The cemetery was a popular site with its natural and historic attractions.

“I thought some people wouldn’t be too interested in the cemetery. They were. They walked the whole end of the cemetery. There were people all over,” said Wiseman. “The cemetery is open all the time (dawn to dusk). You can go on your own, but you won’t have a guide to tell you where people are buried, which is what we had available to them.”

The plants, trees and a butterfly garden add beauty and life to the cemetery.

“We have lots of trees and bushes planted there (in the cemetery) from different homes from the city of Warren. There is history within the plantings,” Hetchler said. “We have what is believed to be an Indian (Native American) trail marker tree. It is a Norway spruce. Supposedly, the Indians (Native Americans) use to bend the branches to give the direction you are supposed to go on the trail.”

The Norway spruce is not marked but is very recognizable, according to Hetchler. It is the tallest tree in the west end of the cemetery.

The oldest grave in the cemetery is that of Moses Wilson. His headstone is located near the butterfly garden. The headstone was recently restored.

There have been no burials since the city of Warren took over the maintenance of the cemetery, according to Hetchler.

“There is a time capsule buried at the cemetery and it’s to be opened in 2043, on the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the Village,” Hetchler said. “It was buried in 1993 on the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the Village.”

There is a butterfly garden that is dedicated to Dorothy Peck Cummings, who lived on Chicago Road in a 1941 bungalow that was featured on the walk. The Peck family is integral to the history of the Village. Dorothy’s grandfather, Edward Peck, was originally from New York. He came to Warren in 1874 and purchased 80 acres of land, which was called Village View Farm, and became the township treasurer. Her father, Eledred Peck, owned the Peck General Store and was the Village of Warren postmaster. Mertal, Eledred’s wife and Dorothy’s mother, was an early member of the Warren Garden Club, as was Dorothy until her death in 2015, according to the Warren Garden Club.

Also along the walk was the First Baptist Church of Warren, which opened its doors to provide a refreshing respite for those on the walk with water and lemonade. The church dates back to 1857 and still holds services every Sunday.

The proceeds from the walk go to the Macomb Community College Foundation, which benefits Warren students attending the college.

Warren Garden Club meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at the Warren Community Center at 6 p.m. For more information call Linda at (810) 656-6490.