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Living in Society

Maintaining a Pioneer Cemetery

George Fackler Marker
George Fackler Marker

FACKLER’S GROVE— What should be done with an old cemetery? Fackler’s Grove is a pioneer cemetery that has not been used for interment for more than a hundred years. There are that many years of neglect. The remains of George Fackler, the first person to die in the township, are here, along with those of more than three dozen others. Some think we should do something with the cemetery.

The Ely Historical Society initiated a project to clean up Fackler’s Grove, and their first project day is Saturday, June 1. Check out the Ely History Blog post about the cemetery cleanup here. The group has been thoughtful about their approach, and have phased the work so a better understanding of the needs can be gained through their engagement.

The question for the Big Grove Township board of trustees is how many tax dollars should be spent to maintain a cemetery that many local residents don’t know exists? Today, the answer is unclear.

One line of thinking is to move the remains to a designated section of the Oakland Cemetery near the town of Solon. This has been investigated previously, and there are legal obstacles to consolidating the two cemeteries. Another way to look at it is the cemetery is sacred ground and should not be touched, except to remove brush, and to maintain trees, fencing and what artifacts remain there. The historical society project leads in that direction. A third way to look at it is to do nothing. Fackler’s Grove has been neglected for more than a hundred years, what harm is there in leaving it alone for a few more?

The thing is that when people are interested in donating time and money to maintenance of township property, the resources should be used to supplement the operating budget. I welcome the Ely Historical Society initiative. How the work will unfold over time is something in which I will engage, and report on from time to time.