Who’s Buried in These Graves in Front of the Prison on Cooper Street?
Jackson Prison, Michigan State Penitentiary, Southern Michigan Prison, Michigan Dept. of Corrections…whatever name you are familiar calling it, fine…as long as you know where it is. If so, you are more than likely aware of that little graveyard right out front next to Cooper Street, sort of beneath the water tower, and next to an old guard tower (which needs some repair, by the way).
I remember as a kid, we’d pass by this old cemetery and I figured it was a graveyard where prisoners were buried after they died…but records indicate it was a different story: a group of settlers from the mid-1800s and some deceased prisoners? If so, which is which? Who’s who?
This unassuming, small cemetery has a weathered sign out front that reads: ‘Pease Cemetery – an Early Settlers Cemetery’. So what is/was Pease? A lost settlement, postal stop, or just the name of some guy?
According to a 1930s list of the burials that was compiled by the Daughters of the American Revolution, there are 32 occupied plots here, some without markers. Interestingly, there are three people buried here with the last name “Pease” – Fannie Pease (died 1853), Lyman Pease (1861), and what appears to be their 1-year-old baby girl, Ida Pease (1853). Ida died in February and just seven months later, Fannie passed away, leaving Lyman to live out his years alone. According to People Legacy, Lyman and Fannie had another daughter, Mary Ann, who died in 1848 but buried elsewhere. This family is where the graveyard got its name from.
In fact, the very first burials that took place here were those of Fannie and Ida Pease in 1853 – the last known burial was Flora J. Wing Cater in 1901.
Blackman Township was organized in 1857. Lyman Pease was indeed the first settler in the territory that became the township, arriving here in 1830 and setting up a homestead on a patch of land that now includes the Cooper Street Correctional Facility, across from the prison.
No records of an actual town-village-hamlet or community of ‘Pease’ seem to exist…..if there ever was one at all.
The gallery below has photos of the cemetery...if you want to see a list of those who are buried here, check out this list.
Pease Cemetery at Jackson State Penitentiary
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