Redford Cemetery Association
The Redford Cemetery Association is a Michigan Non-Profit Corporation tasked with the operation, upkeep, and preservation of the Redford Cemetery. Formerly known as the Bell Branch Cemetery, the Redford Cemetery has been in continuous operation since 1831.
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A Brief History of Redford Cemetery
The Redford Cemetery was originally called Bell Branch Cemetery. Although it was renamed Redford Cemetery in 1933 and the 1886 archway in the front fence also carries the name "Redford Cemetery," the names were used interchangeably through the mid-20th century. It is still occasionally referred to as "The Bell Branch Cemetery" by members of the older generations. With the passing of the generations born previous to 1930, the use of the name "Bell Branch" will probably disappear into the mists of time.
The Cemetery, located on the east side of Telegraph Road, one-half mile north of Five-mile Road, is located on land first deeded by the United States Government to Nathaniel Armstrong on 5 September 1837. The Cemetery was deeded to the "peoples" of the township of Redford in three deeds as follows:
1. A deed from Nathaniel A. Armstrong, dated 29 April 1840, and recorded 6 June 1840, covering 2 acres; consideration, $20.00
2. A deed from Charles F. Nardin and wife, dated 22 December 1854, covering 2 1/3 acres; consideration, $172.96.
3. A deed from Charles F. Nardin and Catharine S. Nardin, dated 14 July 1883, covering 5.8 acres; consideration, $580.00.
During the time the Cemetery property was owned by the Township of Redford, it was mainly kept up and maintained by the citizens of Redford and in the vicinity of Redford. Through their efforts and contributions, in 1886 they constructed an iron fence along the front of the Cemetery at a cost of $1500.00
In the year 1926, when the City of Detroit annexed a portion of Redford, it acquired that part of the cemetery, amounting to about 7 acres, lying east of a line 200 feet east of and parallel to the center of Telegraph Road. In March 1933, Descendants of the Redford Pioneers and people who had rights of burial in the cemetery formed a corporation under the laws of Michigan, known as the Redford Cemetery Association.
The Association filed petitions both with the Redford Township Board and the Common Council of the City of Detroit to obtain possession and control of the Cemetery and was able to obtain a deed from Redford Township in April of 1933 for the portion of the Cemetery owned by Redford Township. In June of 1934, the Association received a lease in perpetuity from the City of Detroit, its Common Council not having the power under the Detroit City Charter to deed away cemetery property.
All business of the Redford Cemetery Association is managed by a Board of trustees elected by its members. The trustees, in turn, elect the different officers. The Association holds its annual meeting each spring to conduct Association business.
Redford Cemetery: A Michigan Historic Site
On June 11 1989, a Michigan State Historic Marker (No. 1317) was dedicated in a formal ceremony. It was erected inside the front fence, centered under the archway bearing the name "Redford Cemetery." The funds for the Marker were donated by Mrs. Olive Hopp Swanson. The ceremony involved greetings from former Governor John B. Swainson, then President of the Michigan Historical Commission; James Kelly, Supervisor of Redford Township; Charlotte Binns, President of The Descendents of the Redford Pioneers; The Redford Historical Society, and others. Wreaths were given by Northrup Funeral Home, The Allen Monument Co., and others. The color guard from the American Legion, Allen Park Post No. 409, posted the colors. Donald J. Pennell, of the Redford Cemetery Association, presided at the ceremony which was attended by well over fifty persons.
All the Redford Cemetery Association officers were introduced: President John M. Prindle, Sr., Vice President Virginia M. Scott; Secretary Helen E. Gallagher, Treasurer Jean M. Pennell, and Trustees Lois S. Harrison, Donald G. and D. Eileen McGuigan, Clyde Hobbins, Jr., and Edward Sackett.