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Oak Ridge Cemetery
East side of Henry Street, just south of Wilder Road, Bay City, MI

1883 history. - Added May, 2011.

History of Bay County, Michigan 1883


Oak Ridge Cemetery is one of, if not the oldest burying grounds in the county. In 1851-52 the Drake Bros. built their mill on the west side of the river, and soon after they set apart a tract of about twenty acres for a burial place. The location was admirably adapted to that purpose, the ground being high and beautifully wooded with oak trees. The name Oak Ridge was given to the place by Mr. John Drake. The first person buried there was one of the workmen in the Drake mill. Mr. Drake kept the property until about the year 1866, when he sold it to the township of Bangor. In 1877 after the incorporation of West Bay City, the city purchased the property, and had it re-platted and improved. It is under the control of the board of cemetery trustees appointed by the city council, of which the city Recorder is an ex-officio member and clerk. The present members of the board are Robert Leng, C. F. Corbin, Morris Westover, and the city Recorder. Oak Ridge is situated on section seventeen between the Au Sable State road and Henry street. The annual report of the trustees, March 31, 1883, shows:

While number of lots sold during the year 84, for which the city received cash $342.50, and there is still due on same, $30.00. There has also been received in cash during the year, on account of amounts due on sales previous to this year, the sum of $28.80, and there is still due on the same, $87.60. The entire number of lots laid out in the old cemetery grounds according to the platting there of is 789. The whole number of lots for which deeds have been given, as appearing from official records of same is 291, from which it would appear that many are yet unsold; but a reference to said lots nominally unsold, however, reveals the fact that a great number are now occupied as burial lots, for which no owners can be found. The diligent inquiry and notices printed calling upon parties claiming ownerships to said lots have been of little avail. During the year many of the lots in the same platted cemetery grounds, have been taken and fenced in with board strips six inches wide, numbered and painted, and materials improvements made throughout the said cemetery grounds by clearing away stumps, rubbish, undergrowth, etc. During the same time many lots have been tastefully and permanently improved by their owers by the addition of new soil, the setting of shrubs, flowering plants, etc., while not a few costly and elegant monuments have been erected, materially beautifying the general appearance of that part of the cemetery grounds. The past ten years services of the present sexton, Mr. Coy, have been very satisfactory to all concerned in the management of the cemeteries, and we cheerfully recommend him to your honorable body for reappointment, whilst we cannot close our brief report without testifying in most unqualified terms to the valuable services rendered this board in its official operations, by your late Recorder, Mr. Henry C. Thompson.

  • The 1868-9 directory states the employee of the Drake Bros. mill that died in 1852, and was the first burial in the cemetery was named Troutman, who died from cholera.
  • After the Drakes Bros., the village of Bangor took over the cemetery. The cemetery appeared to remain loosely operated without formal records until the village of Bangor became a part of West Bay City.

    1866 - Formerly called Drake's. (Contributred by Alan Flood, June 2008.)

    Bay City Journal - Thursday, May 17, 1866 (Page 1)


    This Cemetery (formally called "Drake's.") is now open for the purpose of internment. Parties having friends buried there will please call on the Agent and settle for lots so occupied, when deeds will be given. Vacant lots, either single or double, for sale at reasonable rates.

    At office of Hochkiss & Mercer, Bay City.
    November 28, 1865.

    1877 - Cemetery ordinance. Added May, 2011.

    The Charter and Ordinances of Bay City, Michigan 1907

    An Ordinance for the Protection of Cemeteries in the City of West Bay City.

    Be it ordained by the City of West Bay City:

    Section 1.

    First. No person shall ride over the grounds of any cemetery in the City of West Bay City, Michigan, on horseback.

    Second. No vehicle or carriages shall be driven at a greater speed than four miles an hour.

    Third. No horse shall be left unfastened in said grounds.

    Fourth. No person shall pick any flower, cultivated or wild, or break any tree, shrub or plant, or pull the same up, or injure the same, unless he or she be the owner thereof.

    Fifth. No person shall write upon, deface or injure any monument or other structure in or upon the grounds of said cemetery.

    Sixth. No personal shall enter or walk over any lots without the consent of the owner or sexton, nor disturb the soil on said premises without such consent.

    Sec. 2 (As amended Setember 19, 1877.)

    Any person violating the provisions of the foregoing section shall, upon conviction thereof, pay a fine not exceeding fifty dollars and costs of prosecution, or be imprisoned in the city penitentiary of the City of West Bay City, or the common jail of the Bay county for a period not exceeding fifty days, or by both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court trying the offender.

    Adopted May 30th, 1877.

    1938 - Cemetery improvement project. (Contributed by Alan Flood, June 2008.)

    Bay City Times - Sunday, August 21, 1938 (Page 3)

    Beautification Project to Aid Cemetery's Appearance

    Oak Ridge Improvement Work To Be Done With Assistance of WPA.

    An improvement and development project for the city-owned Oak Ridge cemetery, totaling more than $24,000 and authorized by the city commission during the past week through a WPA project, will eventually make the plot one of the beauty spots of the northwestern section of the city.

    Of the total project, the city will contribute only slightly more than $5,000, while federal funds, largely for labor, will exceed $19,000.

    Provide Work for 328 Men.

    As the project has been drafted by engineers, it will provide a month's work for 328 men.

    When completed, according to city officials, the improvement will materially add to the appearance of the cemetery and measurably increase the value of property in the vicinity.

    One of the biggest changes in the present plot will be a rearrangement of the grounds, developing a new area on the Henry street side, and changing the main entrance to the cemetery to that street.

    New Gate Planned.

    A large stone gate will be erected on Henry street, which should add much to the beauty of the grounds.

    Among the various parts of the project will be the removal of the present 400 foot cement block fence, removal of the old stumps, straightening of monuments; the pruning, removal, and resetting of trees; laying of drain tile and installation of catch basins; grubbing, grading, seeding and sod laying; manufacturing of concrete lot corner markers, removal and rebuilding of a 300 foot retaining wall and painting of the sexton's residence.

    The project was selected by the city commission as one which would bring a worthwhile improvement to the city, and at the same time give a large amount of labor to Bay City workmen.

    Additional Notes.

      1881 - Directory: West Bay City, Mich.

    • Coy, Hiram, sexton Oak Ridge Cemetery, res same.
    • Oak Ridge Cemetery (Protestant) - Westside Saginaw & Au Sable State road. Hiram Coy, sexton. Under the control of the Cemetery Trustees. R. Leng, Chairman.
  • Related Note & Pages

    Cemetery Entrance

    off Henry St.

    Brief History:
    Oak Ridge had its beginnings in 1851 when the Drake Bros. mill set aside a portion of their property for a burial grounds as a result of the death of one of their workers. At that time there was only a sparse number of settlements of the west side of present Bay City. That year Joseph Trombley platted property on the west side for a village and in 1866 the village of Banks purchase the Drake's burial grounds at which time it began establishing formal records on old and new burials. In 1877 the cemetery became a part of West Bay City with the merging of the former villages of Banks, Salzburg and Wenona.

    Related Pages:
    {Cemetery Map}
    {Cemeteries Pictorial}
    Drake, John
    Drake, Samuel
    People Referenced
    Corbin, C.F.
    Coy, Hiram (sexton)
    Drake, John
    Leng, Robert
    Mercer, William
    Thompson, Henry C.
    Troutman, Mr.
    Westover, Morris
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City, MI
    Drake's cemetery
    Hochkiss & Mercer
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.