Historic Flat Rock cemetery headstones get repaired

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Nine vandalized headstones at a historic cemetery in Flat Rock were repaired this week thanks to donations from supporters.

Headstones have been repaired at Vreeland Cemetery in Flat Rock after vandals damaged several of the markers.

The marble headstones at the Vreeland Cemetery were damaged shortly before the Memorial Day weekend at the cemetery that is the original burial site of Michael Vreeeland, a Revolutionary War soldier whose body was subsequently moved to another site while his family remains buried there, according to historians. The cemetery sits at the west edge of Huroc Park.

“We’re very excited and relieved the repairs are complete and that we’re not going into the winter facing further deterioration,” said Lesley Harkai, curator of the Flat Rock Historical Society’s Museum.

The Vreeland Cemetery has suffered vandalism in the past and underwent a restoration project in 2014, Harkai said. Around May 29, a vandal struck the cemetery.

“It’s shocking that someone would have so little respect for place of rest like that, for graves of veterans,” Harkai said adding that no one has yet been held accountable for the act.

In August, the historical society held a fundraising auction that raised the $4,000 needed to restore the damaged headstones. Then society officials called in David Carter, a Commerce Township-based cemetery preservationist.

Carter and a crew of four men arrived at the cemetery Sunday and it took about nine hours to carefully prepare, clean, level and grout each headstone.

Each marker was then hoisted back into place.

The marker for Elias Vreeland is among those recently repaired.

Among the stones standing again are an obelisk headstone for Elias Vreeland who died in 1846 at the age of 55 and a tablet headstone for Eliza Vreeland who died in 1851 at the age of 26.

Carter, who does work at historic cemeteries across Michigan, said the work taps into his love for genealogy and history.

“It’s very rewarding for not just myself, but for my crew,” he said. “Bringing back, preserving history and making stones respectable again.”

Harkai said the next step is to raise money for security cameras to prevent future vandalism. Following the auction, private donations continued to come in, she said.

“It’s exciting to see to the community the cemetery is still important enough to raise funds,” she said.


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