A Look at the Cemeteries on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island’s storied history is a highlight for many visitors. Not only is Mackinac Island the USA’s Best Summer Travel Destination, it’s also where you can embark on a time traveling adventure into the past.

Some of the most peaceful and scenic spots to step back in time are Mackinac Island’s three cemeteries. Located right next to each other along Garrison Road in the middle of the island away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, the cemeteries all are open to the public during daylight hours for quiet reflection. A respectful stroll through one or more of the burial grounds is highly recommended to experience the historic vibe of Mackinac Island.

Here’s a glimpse of each cemetery on Mackinac Island:

A blue cannon stands guard over the graves inside a white fence in the military Post Cemetery on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island’s Post Cemetery

A military cemetery that’s designated as a National Historic Landmark, Mackinac Island’s Post Cemetery is the oldest cemetery on the island and contains graves that date all the way back to the War of 1812. Both British and American soldiers are buried here. But because many early burials were simply marked with wooden crosses that have long since decayed and disappeared, many burials are no longer identified. Of 108 burials, only 39 remain known.

Known burials of note include Ignatius Goldhofer, a Civil War veteran who came to Fort Mackinac in 1869, Edward Biddle, who served as sheriff and village president in the mid 19th century, and Josiah and Isabel Cowes, the infant children of Lieutenant Calvin and Mary Cowles.

The flag at Mackinac Island’s Post Cemetery continually flies at half mast, making it one of four National Cemeteries with this honor. The cemetery also features a 1907 picket fence and a cannon from Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began.

A stone arch with cross marks the entry to Ste. Anne's Cemetery on Mackinac Island

Ste. Anne’s Cemetery on Mackinac Island

As the civilian population of Mackinac Island grew in the 19th century, residents began burying their dead and moving existing remains into separate Catholic and Protestant cemeteries near Post Cemetery. Although Ste. Anne’s Cemetery is marked by gorgeous stone arches built in 1924, its oldest identified grave dates to 1833 when 8-year-old Mary Biddle passed away.

One prominent early Catholic on Mackinac Island is actually buried inside Ste. Anne’s Church. At her request, pioneering Mackinac Island fur trader Magdaleine La Framboise was buried beneath the church altar when she died in 1846. However, when the church underwent a renovation in the mid-20th century, her remains were moved to a grave in the adjacent churchyard. Legend has it that the church’s steeple began to tilt at that time, and gradually it leaned more and more. When the church re-interred La Framboise’s remains in a crypt in the church basement in 2013, the steeple stopped moving – although it’s still off center to this day.

Fall colors line a road that runs along one of Mackinac Island's three cemeteries

Mackinac Island Cemetery

The other civilian cemetery on Mackinac Island serves as the final resting place for Protestant residents. Like Ste. Anne’s Cemetery, Mackinac Island Cemetery became a burial grounds as graveyards in town ran out of room. The oldest known grave in this cemetery is that of Harriet Mitchell, who died in 1831. Other graves in the Mackinac Island Cemetery include G. Mennen Williams, who served as Michigan governor and chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Both civilian cemeteries on Mackinac Island are active, with plots available to people either born on Mackinac Island or who have lived there or owned property there for at least 15 years.

These cemeteries of Mackinac Island showcase and honor history. Their presence offers an opportunity to learn and quietly reflect on our own lives as well as the lives of people who lived and breathed on Mackinac Island as far back as the early 1800s. When you do visit the cemeteries, please be respectful.


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