The historic Utica Cemetery was established during the first settlement of the village of Utica in the early 1800’s. The first five acres were donated by Joseph Stead. A cemetery association was organized in 1863 to care for the graves which lasted several years, but the original records have been lost. The association was reorganized in 1884 and continues today. At one time or another most of the prominent men of the village have served on the cemetery board.
John and Mary Stead deeded 4.45 acres of land to the Utica Cemetery in 1863. Included in that plot was a section referred to the ‘Old Burying Ground’ and a family plot called ‘Stead’s Reserve’. The first burial was that of Thomas Squier in 1817, who was among Shelby Township’s first settlers. Businessmen, doctors, farmers and teachers who influenced the history of the area are buried here, including Lyman T. Jenney, the county's first doctor, and antislavery activists Peter and Sarah Lerich. Also interred here are Joseph Stead, who platted the village of Harlow in 1829 and Gurden C. Leech, who in 1833 suggested that the town be renamed Utica.
Two acres were added in 1915, five more in 1929 and another five in 1934.
Utica Cemetery became Registered Michigan Historic Site No. 2048 in 2001.
In 1901, the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) found the graves of four soldiers of the war of 1812: William Merlin, Reverend Richard Wright, Joel McClellan and Titus Adams.
As you stroll through the cemetery and read the inscriptions on the gravestones, you will see that they are a reflection of the history of our community.
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