Mount Avon Cemetery History

When the village of Rochester was first platted in 1826, one acre of land from Lot 13 was set aside for a cemetery. This burial ground was named Mount Avon Cemetery; also called Rochester Cemetery. This was the first platted cemetery in Oakland County. Because of its historical significance, the Michigan Historical Commission in 1979 placed Mount Avon Cemetery on the State Register of Historic Sites.

The first burial in the newly platted cemetery occurred in February 1827 and was of Mrs. Elsie Shoemaker Horton, wife of George Horton, soldier of the American Revolution. However, other individuals had been buried in this area before platting. Three persons were buried in the Old Ground in 1817, the year that the first settlers came to the Rochester area.

From the original one acre, the cemetery has grown through five additions (1853, 1875, 1904, 1930) to its present 22 acres. The original Historic Acre is in the northeast corner. The streets bordering the cemetery are Wilcox, Third, Taylor, First.

Veterans of all U.S. wars (including the "Toledo War") are buried in Mount Avon Cemetery. Annually on Memorial Day the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Veterans organizations place American flags on each veteran's grave.

When the Board of Health purchased the First Addition in 1853, it authorized the erection of a fence to keep out straying cattle. To quote from the Burial Book Minutes of May 21, 1850, "Resolved that all Horses, Cattle, Sheep, and Hogs (be) excluded from running (sic) at large within the enclosure of said Burying Ground."

A stroll through the cemetery makes the walker conscious of the history of Avon Township and Rochester. Buried here are early pioneers who cut the forest, cleared the land, and became prosperous farmers, mill workers who used the water from Rochester's three streams to grind grains, saw trees, and weave wool from farms, merchants, inventors, and workers on the railroads and DUR who hastened the development of the town. In the latter half of the 20th Century, three colleges in the area stimulated intellectual development.

For researchers interested in tracing ancestors, the following sources are available for viewing at Rochester City Hall.

DAR Records - Gathered in the 1920s by DAR members walking in the cemetery. Important because burial records prior to 1879 were lost.

Burial Books - From 1879 to present.

Burial in Mount Avon Cemetery, 1817-October 15, 1981. Typed manuscript of the Rochester Historical Commission, based on individual cards compiled by the Commission.