2500 W. Court Street
Flint, Michigan 48503
Telephone: (586) 677-5400
Size: 47 acres
Number of interments: no public number available
Jacob Smith, the man credited with founding the Michigan city of Flint, is buried in lovely Glenwood Cemetery with his descendants. The first white settler at the Grand Traverse of the Flint River, Smith was such good friends with the local Native American chief that the men considered themselves brothers. The chief gave Smith the name Wah-be-seens or White Swan, which appears on the back of Smith’s gravestone. Smith had originally been buried behind his trading post near what is now Water Street in Flint. He died in 1825.
Founded in 1857, two years after Flint became a city, Glenwood is one of the few early cemeteries in Michigan laid out in the rural style popularized by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts. Its winding roads are shaded by tall oaks, maples, and pines. In fact, the cemetery is an arboretum with nearly 1,000 trees. The 56 species are predominantly natives, but include a very rare Chinese Yellowhorn tree and a huge, gnarled catalpa tree that predates the cemetery itself. Each of the trees is identified and you can pick up a free map to them outside the cemetery office.
Over all, lovely Glenwood makes the most of hilly terrain above the south bank of the Flint River. Its 47 acres includes two heavily wooded ravines, which shelter deer and other wildlife. The day I visited, it was filled with birdsong and butterflies.
The original 41 acres of the cemetery were purchased in March 1857. In addition to Jacob Smith, buried there are families who built the agricultural, lumbering, industrial, and automotive businesses in the area.
At Glenwood are buried 38 Flint city mayors, two Michigan state governors (Josiah Begole and Henry H. Crapo), Flint’s only lieutenant governor, and other politicians and diplomats, including Fenton McCreery, who served in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras, before joining the Paris office of the American Commission during World War I.
Also buried here are the men who founded the automobile industry in Flint. J. Dallas Dort headed up the largest carriage manufacturer in the world, before investing in Buick, General Motors, and Chevrolet. In 1905, Dort persuaded Charles Stewart Mott to bring his Westen-Mott Company to Flint to build wheels and axels for Buick Motor Company. General Motors eventually bought the company and Mott served as a GM director for over 60 years, as well as acting as executive vice president and chief of staff. His philanthropic foundation continues to fund educational and environmental projects around the world, as well as offering support for the arts.
After serving in the Civil War, James Whiting came to Flint. Eventually, he oversaw Flint Wagon Works, which built 50,000 vehicles a year. He and his associates bought the Buick Motor Company in 1903 and moved it from Detroit to Flint. An auditorium thatWhiting funded in Flint’s Civic Center bears his name and continues to welcome traveling theater and music.
Arthur Giles Bishop worked his way up from teller to president of the Genesee County Savings Bank, before serving on the Board of Directors for General Motors and Chevrolet. He donated land for the city’s airport in 1928.
In addition to the local bigwigs, common people are also buried in Glenwood. Orphans from the Michigan School for the Deaf had been buried in an unmarked graves during an epidemic in the 1880s. A researcher located their grave in 2014 and it is now marked with an obelisk. Several soldiers and generals from the Revolutionary War were transferred here to lie with their families.
In 1901, seven more acres were added on the eastern side of Glenwood Cemetery. That space, with its own separate entrance, is dominated by a neoclassical mausoleum that opened in 1914.
The cemetery was added to the State Register of Historic Places in January 1988. A walking tour map is available at the office for free.
Glenwood Cemetery’s homepage
Notable burials at Glenwood
Marking the grave of the orphans from the School of the Deaf
The change of management at Glenwood
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