Daily Archives: August 31, 2012

An illustrated exploration of Lower Michigan’s many graveyards

Boneyards: Detroit Under GroundBoneyards: Detroit Under Ground by Richard Bak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This beautiful collection combines historic photographs with modern black-and-white photos of cemeteries in Detroit and the surrounding cities, ranging as far abroad as Royal Oak and Ypsilanti. The new photos were shot by a number of different people, but author Richard Bak ties them all together.  He provides a page of explanation and description for each photo, which makes for a quick read full of fascinating tidbits of information.

The book opens with an essay that spans Michigan history from the Copper People and the Mound Builders in the years BC up through the French and the American settlers who moved into the Michigan Territory.  It discusses the old pioneer graveyards that made way for factories and freeways, then talks about the lovely garden cemeteries that date back to the middle of the 1800s:  Elmwood, Woodlawn, and Woodmere, as well as the Catholic burial ground called Mt. Elliott.

Historic photos run a gamut from kids sledding at Elmwood to medical students — including a couple of women — posing with a cadaver at the Michigan College of Medicine. The modern photos dwell on the faces of angels or a gravestone photograph of two kids with a huge old car.  I can’t really do justice to the variety without making a really long list.

If you enjoy history, graveyards, or lightly morbid local stories, this is the book for you.  You can order your own copy through Amazon: Boneyards: Detroit Under Ground.

Cemeteries of Detroit on Cemetery Travel:

Cemetery of the Week #12: Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan

Cemetery of the Week #73: Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan

Cemetery of the Week #74: Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan