LANSING, Mich. — The Friends of Historic Lansing Cemeteries help take care of Lansing's three cemeteries Mt. Hope, Evergreen, and North. Loretta Stanaway is one of the founding members of the group. Visit any one of the cemeteries with her, and you'll learn about some of the interesting people buried there.
"Luther Byron Baker was from Lansing originally. He and his uncle captured Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. John Wilkes Booth died in Luther Baker's arms. Lansing's Baker Street is named after Luther Baker. Luther and his uncle received reward money for capturing John Wilkes Booth and they used that money to build a hotel. The hotel was later taken down and it was later the site of R.E. Olds first factory. After that, the Knapps building was built there."
Luther Baker is buried in Lansing's Mt Hope Cemetery. His grave is one of the stops on the annual cemetery tour given by the Friends of Lansing's Historic Cemeteries. Loretta says it's important to honor and preserve the cemetery's history.
"I think that we have to understand and recognize that we cannot know where our future is if we haven't looked at our past. We need to recognize and honor and respect the people that came before us and the foundation they built for us."
Nikki Moundros and Brandy Trentin brought a group of children to Evergreen and Mt. Hope cemeteries to lay flags on veteran's graves before Memorial Day. Nikki says it also turned into a special history lesson.
"We came across a grave in Mount Hope cemetery that was of a 117-year-old former slave. We were all thinking that that was pretty remarkable. We found out she was born into slavery and had two children as a slave. She was freed at 55 years old but lived to 117. Her name was Lucy. This is very interesting for your kids."
The Friends of Lansing's Historic Cemeteries has restored over 120 monuments in Mt. Hope Cemetery. They have also raised money to add markers to unmarked graves and they even opened a cemetery courtesy office fully staffed by volunteers. Jenny Russell is part of the group and says she continually learns something new when she visits the cemeteries.
"I do enjoy this group. We're very small. We can always use new members, if you enjoy cemeteries, like being outside and, you know, there was a lot of history, we do presentations with walks, and even if you just like the local history, I mean, I feel like this group is for you."
The Friends of Lansing's Historic Cemeteries is holding a wreath presentation this Saturday at noon in Lansing's Evergreen Cemetery as part of the Memorial Day Celebration.
For helping keep a part of history alive and helping to restore and take care of Lansing’s three city cemeteries, the Friends of Lansing’s Historic Cemeteries you are this week's Good Neighbors.
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