Hudson Cemetery

Just north of Dexter, nestled between the Huron River and corn fields destined to soon become another subdivision of oversized homes, lies the pioneer cemetary of Hudson Mills.

Now forlorn and forgotten, Hudson Mills was one of the first settlements in southeast Michigan. Records indicate the first known white settler was Cornelius Osterhout, who built a sawmill on the banks of the Huron River. By 1846, the location had a hotel, general store, and a flour, cider, pulp, plaster, and lumber mill. Today, only the cemetery and earthwork from the original mills remain.

Over the past six years, we've driven by the cemetary twice a day, quickly and without hesitation on the way to and from work. Simple math equates to 3,000 times- and until this morning, we've never even thought of stopping for a closer look.

What we found was a remant from a time long forgotten, neglected and slowly being by reclaimed by nature. As we walked towards to the back of the property, three deer jumped from their bedding and leaped over a rusty barbed-wire fence into the adjacent corn field. Tree limbs were strewn across the burial grounds like toothpicks.

Some of the graves were completely overtaken by vegetation. Seeing this was bothersome- by pure coincidence, earlier this week we stopped by a family gravesite in Detroit and found the headstone sunken and covered in leaves and dirt. Minutes later, we were at the cemetery office filing a work order to remedy the situation. One of the comforts of life should be knowing someone will be vigilant in keeping nature from overtaking your final resting place.

Most of us who live between Dexter and Pinckney came from somewhere else. Which explains the fallen and broken gravestones of people whose kin moved away generations ago.

One consistent factor among the buried is age of death: most of the interned died young, at least by modern standards. Few of the early inhabitants lived past their forties. Many died in their twenties and thirties, presumably from diseases that have been eraditicated by medicine and vaccination.

The saddest graves are the pioneer children. Like the son of F.W. and Mary Peters, who died in 1846. Aged 2 weeks and 2 days, Denison R. Peters' marker reads Death culls the choisest flower Nor tells the reason why To kiss the rod is ours And know that we must die. His short life is a testament to the difficulties of living in an early pioneer settlement in the hinterlands of southeast Michigan along the Huron River.

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