Seems like whenever we come across the final resting places of famous people, what we see are these elaborate memorials: garish mausoleums, wondrous architecture, tall towering monuments, lush landscapes, or various statues of the deceased or other non-descriptive human figures.

But not in the case of James Vernor.

Vernor was the inventor of that famous Michigan soda pop that most of us love so much. He was buried in Detroit's Woodmere Cemetery in 1927 at the age of 84. Even though many fans of his ginger ale might expect to see an impressive monument, it's not so. He is buried next to his wife with a small stone marker just like so many of us will have. It's engraved simply with “James Vernor 1843-1927” and the image of a branch of leaves. Some may think these are ginger leaves, but in comparison to real ginger leaf photos, they don't appear to be.

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Vernor worked in the Higby & Stern drug store in 1858, where he experimented with soda, or “fizz water”. In 1862 he stored one of his concoctions in wooden kegs, joined the army, and went off to serve in the Civil War. On his return in 1866, he opened his own drug store at 235 Woodward Avenue.

On his opening, he gathered up those wooden kegs, tapped 'em, and discovered his concoction tasted much better than he had dreamed...the wood made the difference. Ginger ale was now created. After the amazing success of his new soft drink, and the widespread acceptance by the public, Vernor closed his drug store in 1896 and concentrated his time manufacturing his soft drink. As president of the Vernor company, James also was a member of many local organizations until he passed away from the flu and pneumonia.

The gallery below includes photos of Vernor's grave site, so you can see how simple and unassuming it is. He didn't need to prove to the world he was rich or famous with any sort of garish memorial. I kinda like that.

The Gravesite of James Vernor (Creator of Vernor's Ginger Ale)


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