1047 Greenwood Avenue
Jackson, MI 49203
Bella Morte Rating: 2 Tombstones
Mount Evergreen is Jackson’s oldest public cemetery. Its original 11 acres were purchased from Eunice Dygert on 18 August, 1843. Twenty years later, on 1 September, 1863, 14 additional acres were purchased from James McNeil, bringing the cemetery to its current 25.
The wall along Greenwood Avenue was built in 1873 and reconstructed, using the original stones, in 1980. The wrought-iron fence around the graveyard was donated by the family of Jackson millionaire industrialist Wiley R. Reynolds who was eulogized by associates as “never accused of an unrighteous act. No stain of dishonor was ever coupled with his good name.” Mr. Reynolds lies at rest in Mount Evergreen.
James C. Wood, Jackson’s first mayor, is also buried at Mount Evergreen. This fact is rather interesting as, in 1890, Mr. Wood sold a 25-acre parcel of land for the development of nearby Woodland Cemetery, which also, presumably, bears his name.
Mount Evergreen contains a sizable Veteran’s section as well as a delightfully creepy-looking old receiving vault built into a hillside. With its crumbling façade and heavy black iron doors, it could honourably grace the grounds of any horror movie set.
Horror movies aside, Mount Evergreen is truly picturesque and enjoys a lovely, hilly topography with no dearth of trees and other greenery. Sadly, we discovered only one private family mausoleum on the grounds, the lovely if not exceptional Bassett – Shaughnessy estate. Composed of granite and featuring Corinthian columns and double bronze doors, the mausoleum rests, appropriately, in the shade of a grouping of lovely evergreens.
Though in sad repair, the little gem of Mount Evergreen is the sculpture at the Sparks Memorial. “Roses of Yesterday,” by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, depicts a young girl holding a bouquet of flowers in her right hand and a sundial in her left. The message seems clear: Take time to enjoy life’s pleasures as our stay here is brief. Unfortunately, vandals have absconded with the sundial, leaving the figure sadly bereft of one of her more prominent features.
The Sparks memorial marks the family plot of industrialist and philanthropist William Sparks, partner in the Sparks-Withington Corporation.
Not far from the Sparks plot is the grave of William Withington, a Civil War General and one-time business partner of William Sparks. Withington’s plot is marked by a boulder and bronze marker proclaiming: “After life’s battle, God, like a good general, sounds the recall.”
Note: “Roses of Yesterday” was cast in an edition of five or six, several of which were placed at cemeteries. We were fortunate enough to view the much better preserved sculpture at Houston’s captivating Glenwood Cemetery. Another cast is said to reside in Rice Cemetery in Elkhart, Indiana. Yet another, formerly placed at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York, is unaccounted for.