History of The Warren Historical Societies
Summary of the following 12 pages: There have been many local historical societies in Warren through the years. In general they have done some good work, but they often appeared to be more of a social clique or club than true historical institutions dedicated to preserving history. In fact perhaps their greatest failure was not to see to it that that our local history was written down and preserved. Even their own history was neglected. And worse they failed to see to it that the cemetery records and other important records were backed up. That is why local historians have had to step in and do some of that work for them. Of course I give the present one my full support in preserving our local history and the huge Historical archive Professor Wes Arnold has compiled is completely free for them or anyone to use absolutely free 24/7.
This group which is one of several over many years usually has under a dozen active members and the rest, perhaps a couple hundred, are readers of a two to three sheet monthly news letter. (If they provide me with an accurate figure I will gladly update this here.)
The active members of that group and the Warren Historical Commission maintain a historical gallery and show cases at the Warren Community Center on Arden and have done a good job of this. In the past they have held informational meetings and done a few good things. (If they will send me a list I will include it here.)
Past members of this group include Pat Hallman a Washington Michigan historian and historical activist who did much good work and was largely responsible for rescuing the Bunert One Room School. Judge Don Binkowski as president and others succeeded in creating a historical park now known as Eckstein park. They rescued two original log cabins and got them placed in a historic park along with our old train station. These buildings were later accidentally burned by homeless trying to stay warm in the winter. Many past members were notable people in our city. They did many great things in the cause of saving our local history. These people deserve our gratitude.
Warren historical societies have been around off and on for decades as evidenced by occasional mentions in local papers. But they all failed to record their own histories along with our local Warren history. They failed to learn from history that “If it is not written down it will usually be forgotten.”
The old historical societies got transitioned by new people through the years (We need the story here. ) One of those was Sue Keffer. She was a major player 2004?-present in running the WHGS Warren Historical and Genealogical Society. When the city finally made two rooms available in the Arden Community Center, she oversaw the moving of historical society things there. I will be the first to give her the credit she deserves for being there every Monday evening to supervise historical work. She indeed has done many good things for many years. She did this while also leading in the Garden Club. It was around this time that I Wes Arnold joined and gave them my pictures and as one of the most active members being there almost every Monday night I can recount the actual history. I copied many old pictures and did historical research that I thought needed to be done. I later was appointed by the Mayor to The Warren Historical Commission on which I served.
Sue Keffer led and directed us on many projects. Becky Hetchler usually worked at the computer and was very active in historical projects. One issue I objected to was the paying of a high price for proprietary software for keeping track of museum pictures and belongings. The private company kept asking for more money. I suggested that since I taught Access a very friendly database at a college that I could find an open source or make a good program to do whatever we wanted for free and reduce the time needed to catalog and retrieve items to a minimum. But they would not even entertain that idea and went ahead and spent a lot of money on this proprietary program which soon the company wanted even more money to update. The last I heard was that they were getting volunteers to donate hours of time entering things into this program’s endless forms. The reason this is mentioned is that it should be noted that there are many free open source programs that are adequate to do needed jobs for free. Check out Linux Mint Operating System with its free and good 40,000 associated open source programs.
Fred Gemmill was a former journalist and City of Warren Employee and wrote the Early City of Warren section of Pathways to Freeways. He was a long time treasurer of WHGS and was busy with many other projects. We all loved Fred. Wonderful person.
But hands down no one had more to do with the creation and establishing and upkeep of the First Warren Historical Museum-Gallery than Hubert and Dorothy Leech. Hubert and Dorothy spent countless hours in the preparation of exhibits. Hubert created all of the exhibits. He researched and ordered the exhibit cases. He researched and printed necessary pictures and printed text. He Moved Everything To Best Places. Then when Fred Gemmill died he took on Treasurer which was much additional work. The Warren Historical Gallery is now called the Hubert Leech Historical Research Center.
William and Theresa Pfromm had an antique business and donated some items as did Francis Scripter and many others. Madelyn Zamora helped as secretary and with many projects. Jean Dedecker, Laurie Schwartz, Eleanor Bates, Dorothy Cummings, Maria Osterloh, and many other wonderful volunteers who helped on historical projects.
Darlene Slicker was a long time member and active worker and later president of WHGS. She participated in many good historical endeavors. She also presided at several public events and made historical promotions for TV Warren. Did a good job on these. They also interviewed Tom Turmel the wonderful master gardener of Warren Union Cemetery, some veterans among which was historian Wes Arnold. You can see all of these upon request. In a public meeting 2011 she attacked historian Wes Arnold’s placing a little brick with initials on them in Warren Union Cemetery. He was reprimanded in public for placing this little name brick on a grave which had lost the original marker with those initials. She showed the group a picture of the brick with the initials. He was criticized for putting this in the cemetery. The historical society probably had it removed because it is gone. Well had they bothered to check this was in the correct spot of the grave of those children whom we still do not have the name of but do show their initials which is the only thing in the record. He had at least marked the correct spot with exactly what was found in the records. As a historian who had done the research he felt that it would cause no harm to at least mark the grave of these children with their initials from the record. But now it has been removed as have most of the other mortar bricks he had placed at stones that were unreadable but which he knew the name from the research. He had marked our pre civil war soldier and at least two other Civil War soldiers. It is sad that he spent a few years doing research and marked the graves with readable name bricks and now most of them are now gone. Sorry he did not have money to buy fancy granite bricks. This is because old Wes has from the time he was a boy had a problem of being too generous. He gives things away. As he gave his grandfathers historical glass slides to the Burton Historical Collection. He always paid for the printing of histories himself to be given away to libraries and free to persons who were interested in history all for the purpose that our local history should be recorded and preserved.
It seems that historians have stepped in to record history which the local historical societies did not have the time or volunteers to do. In the Warren area they were Gerald Neil, Harold Stilwell, Pat Hallman, Mike Grobbel, Jack Schram, Tom Turmel, Anna Kluck, Dorothy Cummings, Bert Hazen, the Allens and Old professor Wesley Arnold. (Let me know who I have missed anyone so I can add them.) He started as a boy researching a History of Center Line and gave it to the local library. He served in the US Army during Vietnam. After the war he earned several college degrees while supporting his family then became a College teacher. He started copying old pictures always for the purpose of preserving history not for money. When he joined the Warren Historical Society he made all of his pictures (perhaps 2,000 of them) available to them free of charge. He was one of the most active members and they made him a life member. He volunteered a lot. He gave them copies of hundreds of pictures and copied hundreds of pictures for them and gave them CDs of those. He was also the Warren Historical Society photo-historian for several years. He was a major contributor to their book Pathways to Freeways. Although he was busy teaching college classes he compiled the biggest Educational Archive of Warren-Center Line history with over 8,000 pictures and 12,000 pages of local historical information and made available to them and all interested free of charge. Wes stated he was no one important rather he was only a humble historian preserving our local history for future generations and puts out lots of copies so it will not be lost. He insists that everything he records be as accurate as possible and has stated that if anyone discovers an error in his work, upon proof, he will gladly correct it. He also declares that the truth must be told in recording history. The ladies in the historical society objected to him reporting that the Japanese had mistreated and tortured prisoners of war, tortured, and mistreated thousands of innocent persons. There were other issues that the ladies in this “society” either refused to acknowledge or wanted to suppress. It became more apparent that this society was also a social clique and as a scientific historian his telling of the truth was beginning not to be tolerated.
One issue was how many persons were buried in Warren Union Cemetery. Professor Arnold had spent years researching this and concluded that there were at least hundreds more persons buried there many of which were unrecorded children. The society ladies scoffed at this idea pointing out that there were only a few child stone markers. They told him that this was an adult cemetery. Whereas the reality was that prior to 1920 there were more children buried there than adults because of the many childhood diseases and lack of good medicine. They wanted to take credit for most everything historical in Warren and his independent “help” wasn’t wanted.
Another issue about old cemeteries. They first totally refused consider Professor Wes’s mentioning that Bunert-Green-Indian Cemetery should be considered, even doubting its existence. Professor Wes found it had been on the state register of cemeteries (although gone now) he had interviewed residents living in that area and even interviewed William Duross the undertaker. In the interview Professor Arnold discovered that 50 bodies had been exhumed out of what was left of the cemetery even after chunks of it had been removed for fill dirt. The historical society begrudgingly finally accepted the overwhelming evidence, but did not want to accept it from Wes. Since they failed to make our local history available to students and the public Prof Wes made his Educational archive available for free to the public and students and offered it to the society to sell at their doings for fund-raising. They allowed this to happen and made over $100. at the auction and sale at the Old Village Hall. But they appeared to want him to make history soft and fluffy and more of an entertainment item. The social clique took over. They decided to not use Wes’s Historical archive either in pamphlet or CD form. Wes did help them by advertising their Book Pathways to Freeways and which finally did include some of his research and many of the pictures he had saved including using one of his pictures for the book cover. Anyway part of the goal was met to help preserve our local history. Madelyn Zamora did a good job on proof reading. And they used a lot of Fred Gemmill's presentings in the early City part of the history. Turned out to be a nice book. And a little known fact Sue Keffer took $1000 out of her pocket to pay for the printing and donated it to the society. I think Fred Gemmill did also but am not sure. Both of them did a lot for Warren’s history and even though I as a Veteran did publicly disagree with Sue on her initiation of and support for the removal of the Unknown Soldier and Veteran stones and other stones from Warren Union Cemetery that families had placed. I feel except for this one exception we owe Sue a great deal of gratitude for the years she has labored for the Warren Historical Society.
One repeating historical problem is that people fail to record the local history. The result is it becomes unknown. Example when was the first Warren historical society. Answer we don't know they did not bother to record it. There have been several Warren Historical Societies through the years not just one. It appears they were mainly social clubs because we don't see any histories they did.
One of the old Warren Historical Societies held fund raisers and got volunteers to maintain Warren Union Cemetery when the Methodist Church decided to abandon it in the 1960s. It is nice that they cared about the weeds but what about talking to the old families so we could have known who was buried there. It sponsored a clean up fix up on Aug 12, 1978. No it was not the first, that was a hundred years earlier. Cleanups-fixups were held yearly in May starting in 1979. The Warren Historical Society because of its work was awarded a Distinguished Service Award from Keep Michigan Beautiful in 1988.
A girl scout troop from the May V Peck school help (leader Suzanne Thebert help with clean-up on May 22, 1980. May V Peck was the last burial in the west end. Was in 1980. On June 8, 1982 a “Walk thru the Past” tour and picnic was begun. Dorothy wrote her cemetery story. In 1986 200 letters were sent to surviving residents and current residents requesting contributions. And $3200 was raised. Warren Historical Society voted to contribute all of the profits from their annual Homecoming raffle to the Cemetery fund. In 1986 the raffle made a profit of $1264.
With this the Warren Historical Society in 1986 installed a six foot chain fence around the west, north and east sides, a total of 748 feet. Cost of $2,557,00. Also the front fence was repaired from car crash. Cost $975. Stones repaired in west end $382. Another repair to front fence from another car crash. $208. Monthly summer mowings were begun. Through action of the Warren Historical Society the city was convinced that street lights would help deter vandalism. In summer of 1986 5 new street lights were installed on North side of Chicago Rd in front of Warren Union Cemetery. 1987 clean up at east end as Denise Bourjaily the mower had so well cared for West end.. Chris singletree again hired to repair some broken stones June 27, 1987. Society paid half St Paul paid other. Total bill $260. Homecoming raffle of 1987earned $845. and was donated to cemetery fund.
Dorothy Cummings and Pat Hallman conducted Cemetery Walk Sept 13, 1987. 50 people attended. Souvenir map printed on parchment paper designed by D Cummings and Jerry Schmeisser from Planning Commission. Following death of Harold Stilwell Warren Historical Society voted to install a new sign in his honor. New sign commissioned $200. Installation free donation from Roger VanderVlucht who owns old Murthum house. In 1987 a young oak tree was donated by Maria Osterloh and planted in the west side of the cemetery by Maria and Dorothy Cummings. In 1987 a young flowering crab tree was donated by Dorothea Peterjohn and planted in the west side by Maria and Dorothy. Dorothy Cummings had a sign painted and tagged the old spruce tree as an Indian Marker Tree. At Christmas time Dorothy put a red ribbon and bow on it. 1987 Mowings total $450.
1988 Dorothy Cummings working with St Paul to create an endowment fund for the continuing care of the entire Warren Union Cemetery. Locks installed on all 3 gates for winter 87-88. Since no evidence of vandalism with new street lights was not repeated in future years.
Aug 24, 1988 received Distinguished Service Plaque from keep Michigan Beautiful for the beautification efforts in the cemetery.
1989 the St Paul's Cemetery Trust Fund papers were signed. Trustees: Merle Loch, Marilyn Dopp, & Dorothy Cummings. 1990 Nov 11 New flag pole and flag installed complements of “Woodsmen of America. Work done by Andy Plischenko and June Cox. 1991 May 5 Denise Bourjaily began mowing the entire cemetery. Ray Stilwell had the cemetery sign painted.
1992 Sept 19 Dedication ceremony for Michigan Historic Marker. Representatives from Warren Historic Commission presented the marker. Mayor Bonkowski was present to accept and ministers from both St Paul and Methodist church were present. Approx 100 people attended. However it was later discovered that little research was done on the facts for the marker and some of it was wrong. 1993 June 5 “Matts Lawn Care” took over mowing of cemetery. 1994 July Matt sold business to “Showcase lawn Service” owner Joe Machiniak.
1993 April 28 A time capsule closing ceremony was held at 2 PM to celebrate the Centennial of the Village of Warren. 1994 April The Grobbel group, 4H Garden Club started the Butterfly Garden in the cemetery. They laid out the “flagstone” cement walk; installed a wooden bench; dug up ground and planted some flowers.
1996 October a Joint work from Warren Historical Society and Warren Garden Club cleaned up and replanted the Butterfly garden. This work has been repeated most years since.
Beginning in 1998 Tom Turmel of Warren donated and installed as of 2012 over 30 trees and hundreds of shrubs. Before this time most of the cemetery was only grass with only the few big trees and the new Oak and Crab apple tree. As of 2012 one can see that he has transformed the cemetery into a place of beauty. He has done all of this without pay.
2003 April “Showcase Lawn Service” sold business to “GDM Lawn care” owner June Mead.
The officers of the Warren Historical Society in 2010 neglected to take action on the historian's warning that there were dangerous conditions in the cemetery and need of repairs. (Stones about to fall over that could harm people especially children.) The huge Metro stone had already gone over and that could have killed a child because it was too heavy for a rescuer to even lift off of a child. There were also animal holes in several places which Wesley Arnold filled so that people would not sprain an ankle. Wes also obtained wire from Hubert Leech and bought metal fence posts and repaired several holes in the fence that deer were getting in through and killing many shrubs in the cemetery. Did that several times.
In 2010 a Memorial to all veterans and those who died on attacks on our country was donated anonymously. It urged our young people to be Vigilant and be prepared. We veterans and former firemen feel it filled a need because people forget and many youngsters were too young to remember the events or not born yet. And young people need to know that our country can be and has been attacked more than once. Also we should honor all veterans and those who died in the attacks on our country. Not just people who served in the military. We lost over 400 policemen and firemen on 9-11. Shouldn't there be a remembrance of this for future generations. Well one was donated without cost to the city and there was lots of room for it in this old cemetery. And it was there a long time not hurting anything, doing no harm. And it was doing its job of educating visitors. I saw many parents being children to that spot while I was doing research.
In 2011 the Village Commission had extra money in its city account and since it was use it or lose it decided it was going to donate a memorial to veterans interred in the cemetery. It was placed in the cemetery with great fanfare. The dedication was June 15, 2011. Old time military band (5th Michigan Regiment Band) playing, mayor speaking and the Warren Police Honor guard. A tent was set up for shelter. Lots of guests and publicity. Unfortunately the village veterans memorial did not do this job, did not mention all veterans or those who died in attacks on our country and only honored those interred here. Us veterans and those who knew firemen or relatives who died at Pearl Harbor or on 9-11 feel the newer memorial was nice but a little shortsighted.
This brought a lot of attention to this old cemetery. Perhaps partly as a result some persons donated memorials: to our soldiers, Unknown Soldier, and a Children's memorial. The majority of descendants of the early Warren families live out of town and in other states. The families who donated these memorials were probably from out of town and they just had the stones placed in the cemetery without fanfare or public attention as most families do. It may be noted that at least one consulted historian Wesley Arnold's big website and got the names of the soldiers buried there and other information because that is the only source available and he probably had given them his web site card when they visited the cemetery. Another factor was that the historian had spent many hours in that cemetery doing research taking measurements etc. During the time he was there many people visited and he gave them a tour and his historical website card. He also stated he had often suggested that a memorial was needed naming our soldiers and he would like to see an unknown soldier memorial and that there were hundreds of children buried there without markers. He tells of one woman visitor from out of town who may have recently lost a relative who was very interested in the idea of these memorials. She was an older woman and teared up when as I mentioned the possibility of these memorials. It is not polite to ask women for their name and addresses at first meeting so no notation of hers was made. Well not a long time after that a some new markers appeared. Is there a connection, of course since Wes Arnold’s website was obviously used to get the soldier list on which he is listed as a Vietnam era veteran who is going to be sprinkled at Warren Union Cemetery and the historian’s name was quoted on the children’s memorial probably to indicate the source of the information., and this was a relatively short time after more than one person showed interest in the ideas for the markers. So was old Veteran Wes involved? Of course and proudly so. I suggested that these stones would honor our soldiers and the many children without markers. Why not after there is a lot of room available and these would help educate younger visitors. But wait before the reader jumps to the conclusion that “Wes did it” Absolutely no I do not have this kind of money to spend on all of these expensive granite memorials that only a very few people would ever see. I have better uses for my limited funds. Remember I am retired and trying to live on a part time teacher’s social insecurity with lots of medical bills. And if the children’s memorial is ever recovered I would have my name removed because I feel any name detracts from the message of honoring our pioneers and children who have no marker.
Now the officers of this group appear to be good people and have done many good things. However they made a big mistake. Perhaps they got carried away in their desire to control all things historical. Perhaps it was jealousy. It was rumored that they were very upset that the historian's name was quoted on two of the stones and that their permission was not obtained to place them in the cemetery. (However they did not own the cemetery. and there was no policy regarding placing of stones as families had always just placed their own stones.) An insider in the group reported that they were very upset about these memorials that they could not take credit for. Perhaps they just wanted to take credit for all major things historical or whatever but it appears the three got themselves all worked up over this and got two men (husbands of B and M) to steal/remove the stones from the cemetery.
On about July 14, 2011 five memorials were stolen from Warren Union Cemetery. That evening the theft was discovered by historian Wesley Arnold and Tom Turmel and the police were called. The police refused to come as we could not give them an address for the cemetery as it has no address. Besides the 911 operator probably thought it was a prank call. Who reports stones stolen from a cemetery? So a police report was made late that night. The next morning Wesley was awakened by the Macomb Daily reporter wanting facts on the theft. It was amazing how the reporter could even know about this. It seems they check police reports in search of news to put in the paper. He requested he meet the historian at the cemetery and show him where the 5 stolen stones had been. During this time News 4 showed up with Bora Kim. It was pointed out that $4,000 worth of new beautiful granite markers had been stolen but we could not come up with any reason as nobody steals memorials from a cemetery. Although bronze markers are sometimes a target as bronze can be sold, no bronze markers had been stolen. The expensive granite stones could be resurfaced and sold was the only explanation that seemed logical. Later WWJ news radio also called the historian and he could only tell them what he knew which was grave stones were stolen. Well soon it was on the Radio. Later that afternoon WWJ news Radio called and told the historian that a woman (Sue Keffer) had called and confessed to having the stones removed. And they wanted his reaction. It was one of shock. Then the historian called the Warren police to verify this and was transferred to Lt Beck who confirmed that Sue Keffer had indeed called them and told them she had had the stones removed and that they knew where they were. The Warren police not knowing what to do just treated this incident as a dispute among historical society members, so no police action was ever taken. Sue Keffer later admitted at the Warren Historical Commission meeting that she was the one who had called and Oz also stated he was one of those who removed the stones.
Remember I was, I thought, an insider in this group. I remember Sue stating “Those memorials have to go” the week before they were stolen. And this was done by the two husbands while the rest of us were at the dedication for the Ulrich Lumber Yard historical marker. So they knew I would not be near the cemetery to call the police and stop it. Also there had been no agenda item or vote taken by the Warren Historical Society or the Village Commission or the Warren City Council which is what would be a normal procedure if a grave stone would be officially removed from a cemetery which is under the City’s jurisdiction. So these memorials were stolen on the sly. I later discovered that I was copied to in an accidental CC e-mail stating that Becky’s husband and Oz Madelyn’s husband were going to do the heavy part. I was too busy and did not even see this but probably would not have known what they were referring to. In fact I almost deleted it as I thought and rightly so that it was not intended for me. Oh in case you think I violate any privacy this is Quoted from the police report which is a public record But the original is archived. And these people admitted they were the ones who did it at the Warren Historical Commission meeting later. The others had invited many of their supporters to the meeting. Somehow that meeting turned into a get Wes session but Wes and Eugene Sawyer (both veterans) were the only persons who had the courage to stand up against the stealing of the memorials. Wes the veteran on the Commission was faulted for making a police report and accused of somehow selling subscriptions to put stones in the cemetery advertising himself? What? Is a retired senior citizen and historian who actually gives everything away for free going to spend thousands of dollars so that a dozen people a year will see his name on a stone. Does that make sense? And of course not a single person could be found even after 6 years who paid him even a penny for anything because for forty years he has given his histories away for free. Later it was discovered they even had secretly brought in the city attorney to observe his answers to questions. What? Even if Wes had paid for a memorial to be placed in the cemetery honoring veterans what crime is that? But the guys who actually stole the stones on the sly were made to out be heroes. Seems to this college professor that stealing someone else’s property (expensive grave memorials) from a cemetery you don’t own, without official permission is really “grand larceny” not actions of a hero.
According to the Warren Police, WWJ, and Macomb Daily officers of the Warren Historical Society were behind the stealing of at least 5 expensive memorials from Warren Union Cemetery. They do not own the cemetery or the markers, They did this secretly without just cause, without a public hearing, without notification to the membership or vote, or vote of Village Commission, or notification of City Council or even property owners. They robbed Warren's unknown soldier memorial from a grave and they stole a memorial that listed Warren soldiers who are buried there. This was the only memorial showing the names of these soldiers. Nothing was found wrong with these memorials in a meeting held afterward. And they stole the memorial to all veterans and to those who died on attacks on our country and 9-11 (including over 400 policemen and firemen) and they stole another that honors our flag and yet another that honors those many children and pioneers buried there without markers.
These memorials were causing no harm. There is lots of room for them. They posed no threat. There is nothing disrespectful or wrong about these memorials. They were there to honor men who died and to educate visitors especially young people who no longer learn about history in school. This Historical society to cover themselves approved a policy that they can remove any stone they choose from Warren Union Cemetery. And sure enough the grave robbing gang was at it again when they stole some family’s beautiful granite epitaph from a grave. I don’t even have a picture of it because it was new. I don’t remember any family name for it or what it said but it was an epitaph. What a shame that Warren will have a reputation that even the historical society steals memorials. The sad part is that the families who had those stones put there like the epitaph and the Unknown Soldier, and the stone that was the only one to name our Warren boys who gave their lives for our freedom will probably never know that their memorials were stolen because most of the families buried there now live outside of Warren and many outside of Michigan. Those who would have had these placed like the two older ladies I had talked to about memorials may now be in poor health of even deceased. How would you feel if the only stone that named your great grand son who died in the service of his country was stolen by a historical society and not replaced. As a veteran this happened while I was on the Historical Commission without my knowledge and I have fought it ever since. I am sure I speak for most veterans. We want the Unknown Soldier, and the Soldier’s Warren Union List stone and in fact all of the stolen stones returned or replaced. As a veteran I have lost my brothers in war, I know the sacrifice these young Warren men made in giving their very lives and I am not going to let a ladies social clique rob them and their grave of at least their name on a granite stone and their legacy of our freedom. I will insist that our veterans be named and remembered in their cemetery until I join them there myself.
We veterans who survived wars speak for the soldiers buried there. Many veterans went through hell, were wounded, saw friends die, heard the pain filled screams of mortally wounded men, put friends body parts into body bags, accompanied friends caskets home. We served our country with honor and integrity. We feel it is wrong to steal soldiers memorials and especially ones which show soldiers honored service to future generations for whom they fought and died. They at least earned their name on a granite memorial and this grave robbing gang has no right to steal soldiers memorials they don't own out of our cemetery. Now visitors including young people will not be able to see who these soldiers were. Now many of our soldiers have no marker at all with their name because the only one they had was stolen by officers of a social club. Note neither the Warren Historical Society nor the Village Commission Nor the City council did this. A social clique did this. I call them the grave Robber Gang.
It appears that the persons who did this are now so ashamed of their actions they are now trying to blame others. This was not an action by the historical society. The membership or public had not been informed and The Village Commission did not vote on this. I have the minutes of the meetings before and after.
Taking property that is not yours is called stealing and when it is worth several thousand dollars it is grand larceny.
Disrespecting our soldiers who were killed or put their lives on the line for our freedom is wrong. Stealing memorials that name our soldiers is worse than disgraceful. They are robbing our history left for our young people who no longer are taught history in school. No one should be allowed to steal memorials they don't own out of a cemetery they don't own. We veterans feel that they have disrespected our soldiers, our flag and those who died on attacks to our country. These memorials were donated without cost to the city possibility by out of town descendents of those buried there.
We veterans are asking that The Warren Village Commission simply acknowledge that these memorials were not a threat to anyone, harm no one, honor our Warren Soldiers many of which are buried in Warren Union Cemetery which has lots of room for them and does so without cost to the city. We also ask that the people who removed them without public notice or the vote of The Village Commission simply return them without cost to the city. This will also avoid costly and ugly legal battles supported by hundreds of veterans over the improper removal (grand larceny) and disrespecting of our soldiers. This simple and cost free action would make The Warren Village Commission heroes to thousands of Warren children, and veterans who look to them to preserve our Warren Village Historical and American Heritage to future generations.
Another way to look at this is that it was a big mistake by these few people. They have the opportunity now to rectify the mistake by returning the memorials or sponsoring new ones. Respect our Warren soldiers and those who died by allowing their names to be seen without cost and honored on these granite stones in their home town Warren Village. This also fulfills the missions of The Warren Historical Commission, the society and Village Commission to preserve our history and educate future generations.
But if they choose to disrespect our soldiers and veterans and those who died defending our freedom and on attacks on our country let it be known that we will mount a campaign against those few disrespectors and there are hundreds of us. And we veterans are not going to allow men and women who died to be disrespected and their history stolen from our local cemetery. Attention attorneys we are looking for attorneys who are willing to help us fight this cause. We are willing to do fund raising to pay you. We are looking for banks or organizations who are willing to accept donations directly to them for this cause. None of us is to accept funds rather they are to go directly to the banks. History will note whether these disrespectors of those who died for our freedom shall be known as the Warren "Hysterical" grave robbing gang, or shall be known as Historical Heroes who preserved our American Heritage, educated future generations and respected our soldiers.
Here is a brief description of five of the memorials ripped out. First Warren's Unknown Soldier Memorial. The Detroit Society for Genealogical Research had done a detailed recording of Warren Union Cemetery in 1938 which indicated that there was a soldiers grave marked by a flag in the area where this stone was placed. This historian has been telling people about this for some time. He was probably one of our many several Civil War soldiers whose burial records have been lost. Many of us feel that this soldier should not be forgotten to future generations. The records with soldiers names were destroyed we are told in a flood that destroyed the records in the church basement many years ago. What does it hurt to honor this soldier who died especially by a nice stone that was donated by a family honoring this soldier without cost to our city. Also a memorial based on research by several historians listed Warren area boys, most of which are buried in this cemetery. Also note this was not a list of buried soldiers, rather a partial list of Warren boys who risked their lives or gave their lives for our freedom. This was the only memorial showing the names of these soldiers many of which have no marker anywhere else. Don't they at least deserve to have their name on a granite memorial in their home town. Why do we describe them as boys. Well just look at the ages when they were killed. Many were still in their teens when they gave their lives securing our freedom. Many have no marker anywhere else.
The memorial to all veterans honored all veterans and those who died in attacks on our country.(unlike the Village monument which came months later and honors only those who are interred there.) The gang probably felt that the first memorial to all veterans was in competition with their new memorial and they wanted an excuse to get rid of it. But the memorials were quite a ways away from each other so there was no reason why the first one should be removed. It served a good purpose. It pointed out something that our young people are not taught in school. Most young people can't tell you about Pearl Harbor or WWII or even why or who we fought and many are unaware of events of 9- 11 and that over 400 policemen and firemen were killed there. It gives a message to our young people to be vigilant and be prepared. Another memorial the gang stole told what ideals our flag stood for which many of our Warren boys gave their lives for. It stated "Our flag stands for liberty justice free speech - press maintain our freedoms..." Many of our brothers and parents died for those ideals but now-days many young people have no idea of what our flag stands for. We veterans feel that these memorials filled a need in Warren.
The Warren Historical Society itself has done very little actual research. And not being negative just stating facts, the current officers have actually ignored research by several researchers in regard to Warren Union Cemetery and who is buried there. One could say that it is more of a social club.
The bigger Children's memorial honors the hundreds (according to research) of children and pioneers buried here without a marker. Many of these children suffered terrible deaths. The statement of hundreds is no idle claim but based on research. The officers of the historical society chose not to even look at the research but instead just to put the stone where it will be trashed. It appears that Warren Union Cemetery is a pioneer cemetery with hundreds of children. Many many stillborn, young baby and child deaths were not even recorded and not marked with an engraved stone. The county death records which show 50% of the registered deaths in Warren were those of children prior to WWI only represent a small percentage of actual child deaths. In a research study of the 150 stones indicating a child only a dozen were actually registered with the county. Also most families did not want a stone to remind them of a baby death. There was a stigma about stillborn and day old baby deaths. So families mostly just buried the child quickly and privately. Remember the body did not go to a funeral home. The family home was the funeral home. Most people did not want a marker to remember the sickly and often unnamed baby or to blame the mother who was already guilt and grief stricken. There were no local stone cutters and families did not have money for a child stone. In many cases the baby had no name. A look at county death records verifies this. Even today stillborns' graves are virtually not marked. The sister cemetery in Center Line had good records and shows that for a thousand adult deaths there would be 1,500 child burials because the burial rate was 1.5 for each adult before WWI. Just looking at the remaining grave stones shows there are around 1000 persons buried at Warren Union Cemetery. That would mean 1,500 children without markers. It appears that only about 10 percent of baby and child deaths were actually registered before WWI. The mortality rate for children was very high approx 200 per 1000 per annum and many died of conditions we easily treat today. In those pioneer days large families were the norm and many families had several baby deaths. Diseases like Scarlet fever often killed several children in the same family. One can barely walk around in that cemetery without walking on children's graves as they were buried on top of adult family burials and in the back of the cemetery. Also there are many adult unmarked graves because the early pioneers piled up a few little stones and felt they did not need a fancy marker. Many felt that the resurrection was coming soon as it states in the Bible and that there would be no need for a marker. Most of the early families did not place engraved markers. And they often not only did not have the money for one but there were no local stone mason in the area. There were no local monument companies or funeral homes. Just consider even the first families between 18 to 100 families who purchased lots here have very few markers. Most of those that are there were most likely placed much later by descendants. The Lots were 10x30 providing 20-40 potential burials as babies were allowed above an adult. Shrouds and narrow coffins were common. So there are a few hundred unmarked graves right there. Consider that the cemetery which has 2,600 graves within the current fenced area, (after subtracting ground for aisles and ways) was filled up before WWII as witnessed by families who had to buy plots in other cemeteries farther away. Also many stillborns, pauper burials and even some non residents were buried there without markers especially in the back which was unfenced. (and since has been eroded) Many famous village residents like the Beebes were buried there without markers. Some people with acute psychic senses have told me that they can feel that there are many children there. There was often much suffering and crying involved in a child's dying. And there is other evidence also. But the above research is verifiable. That means at the least hundreds of unmarked graves. Many of us feel these children and pioneers at least deserve to be acknowledged and honored with a small memorial. While I was doing research there over many months, This was mentioned to many visitors.
These memorials were donated without cost to the city possibility by out of town descendents of those buried there. We are asking that these memorials be replaced. It is the right thing to do.
In 2012 it was discovered that additional memorials had been stolen including a nice memorial Epitaph robbed from a family's grave and others. This has got to be stopped. We are hoping that these folks will realize their mistake and return all of the memorials to where they belong in our cemetery. If they don't our only recourse is to take legal action. But there are a lot of us veterans against a gang of 5. We know that public opinion is on our side as are hundreds of veterans.
I wish the story had stopped here but it gets worse.
In fact they have now ordained with their new cemetery rules that they have the right to rip out any memorial they do not like without notice. No public hearing. No vote of the membership. No consultation with the mayor or City Council or Village Commission actually required. And they have already used this to steal some family’s epitaph.
And they are now also demanding markers have a 42 inch foundation with a requirement of 5-6% aid entrainment using entraining equipment for the concrete foundations for all markers even for a thin flat marker. (bring up the cost greatly to families and may mean bringing in somewhat heavy equipment into the cemetery. This is bad considering the soft nature of the ground.) And this means that the contractor will in some cases be digging into the actual remains of the person buried. Remember this is not a new commercial cemetery this is a pioneer cemetery with lots of babies buried on top of adults and some folks in relatively shallow graves. And their new rules put limits on the days loved ones can leave flowers even forbid families to leave a rose or flower at a grave without a container. There is no problem with flowers now why all of a sudden does this need to be regulated.
And who are they to dictate to loved ones when they can leave a flower at a grave. And why the push for everything to be in containers. That will only cause pieces of plastic, glass and metal to be spread by the mowers which will be unsightly and potentially dangerous to visitors. I know as I am a caretaker there.
And they have outlawed persons leaving a rose on a gravestone of a loved one. Who are they to dictate against this expression of love by a loved one? And the rose eventually falls to the ground and returns to the earth naturally without causing a problem. The problem is this excessive and unnecessary power grabbing regulation. If my dad gave his life for my country how dare they dictate to me that I can't put a rose on his memorial or at least on the spot where it was because they robbed the memorial from the grave.
And they state they will remove it without notice. So if a family lays a rose on a soldiers grave which is now missing the marker this group has ripped out this "hysterical" society may steal the flower also. This is absolutely absurd and unnecessary. This is not their own private cemetery. We veterans have earned freedom to visit it and at least leave a flower there to our loved ones who died securing that freedom.
This power grabbing and excessive regulation for an old, and nearly full cemetery is unnecessary. This is the same group who may have lost valuable records and even got the facts on the historic plaque wrong.
This so sad that they have become so imbued with their own importance and power that they now want to have over families who wish to place memorials. Remember in 170 years we have never had a memorial that was so bad it had to be removed. We have no need for self appointed grave dictators. Families in Warren should not have to worry that expensive memorials they put on graves of loved ones may be removed and disposed of by these vigilantes without notice. They have already done this with 6 and maybe more expensive memorials.
And for historians and caretakers who desire to place a name brick naming the person in the grave (whose name has become unreadable or where there is no gravestone) having to excavate a 42 inch deep pit for a foundation for a simple 2 inch brick is not only absurd but risks actually digging into remains of babies or even adults not deeply buried. This is a pioneer cemetery not a new commercial cemetery and there are many shallow graves and babies buried on top of adults. Arrangements of this nature should be left up to the family and undertaker not a gang of 5 looking to control everything historical acting in secret without public notice.
Well it may be that some families whose memorials were ripped out and at least the veterans will be taking this gang of 5 to court. We know that public opinion is on the side of the families and veterans. And many judges are veterans or their parents were. At this time it is unknown how this disgraceful episode in Warren's history will be resolved.
In closing here is how We veterans feel about this: We veterans who survived wars speak for the soldiers buried there. Many veterans went through hell, were wounded, saw friends die, heard the pain filled screams of mortally wounded men, put friends' body parts into body bags, accompanied friends' caskets home. We served our country with honor and integrity. We feel it is wrong to steal soldiers memorials and especially ones which show soldiers honored service to future generations for whom they fought and died. They at least earned their name on a granite memorial and this grave robbing gang has no right to steal soldiers memorials they don't own out of our cemetery. Now visitors including young people will not be able to see who these soldiers were. Now many of our soldiers have no marker at all because the only one they had was stolen. We want these memorials replaced. It is the right thing to do.