By Megan Kelley
ORION TWP. — The sign over the entrance to the Orion area’s oldest cemetery was recently restored to its original finish, keeping intact the original brass lettering that had been in place since 1913.
Square Lake Cemetery Association Board President Greg Korth and Treasurer Cindy Sartori were happy to see the project completed after almost a year of work.
With rich history, the cemetery holds veterans from nearly every American war, and also serves as kind of a who’s-who of Lake Orion with some well-known names finding their final resting place on the property.
The cemetery itself was one acre of land originally named the Cole Cemetery and belonged to a farmer named Christopher Cole who owned the land and surrounding property.
The first burial on record was a small child by the name of Fanny Dickman in 1847. The “Original Plat” served as a burial ground for the families of early settlers.
While the cemetery itself was private and owned by the Cole family, another family found themselves highly invested in the property, the Tyler family.
A newer addition to the cemetery was added around 1912 when real estate developer and early Orion Township Supervisor Noah Tyler gifted a large sum of money for a monument, a receiving vault and the gate and wrought iron fence.
After Tyler and his wife passed, the money was to be left to the cemetery, with a few provisions.
Though Tyler passed in 1885, his wife survived until 1908, giving ample time for family members to object to the will and demand the money not be given to the cemetery.
The case went all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court where it was decided that most of the money would go to the cemetery.
The only thing kept from Square Lake Cemetery was $100 that Tyler had left for the upkeep of his plot.
In 1950, another addition was added on the east side.
Sartori, who has a keen interest in history, has dedicated much of her time to accurately documenting the history of the cemetery and has gone through and made sure that every burial is documented on findagrave.com.
On the roughly 3.54 acres of land, there have been 871 burials in the cemetery’s 156 years of existence — and there are still 348 plots left.
“If you love living in Lake Orion, you could spend eternity here,” Korth joked.
The cemetery was established as a public cemetery in 1866 and the Square Lake Burial Association was formed in 1902. It was reincorporated in 1965 to operate and maintain the cemetery in perpetuity.
All plot owners are members of the association, which is run by a sevenmember board of directors who are responsible for overseeing the operations of the cemetery.
Anyone interested in purchasing a plot can contact the association via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite being a “private “cemetery, it is open to the public for those who are interested in looking at the abundance of Lake Orion history for themselves.
The Square Lake Cemetery is located on Joslyn Road right next to the Orion Township Public Library.
By Megan Kelley