Located in Detroit, Michigan, Historic Elmwood Cemetery, founded in 1846, is the Midwest’s oldest integrated cemetery. Over one dozen Underground Railroad participants and several abolitionists are buried in Elmwood. From city founders and industrialists to those born in bondage and poverty, Elmwood offered a final resting place and continues its mission today. Freedom seekers lay steps from Underground Railroad workers and abolitionists. Eternally in Elmwood are Detroit Underground Railroad participants: African Americans William Lambert, George DeBaptiste, Dr. Joseph Ferguson, William Webb and Lisette Denison Forth; and European Americans Sen. Zachariah Chandler, Samuel Zug, Horace Hallock, Sen. Jacob M. Howard, Judge Ross Wilkins, James Joy, Rev. Oren Cook Thompson and shipbuilding magnate Eber Brock Ward. Lambert and DeBaptiste headed an organized transnational network to protect freedom seekers in Michigan or ferry them across the Detroit River to the Canadian Provinces. Lisette Denison Forth’s burial in Stranger’s Ground belies her life: born enslaved; denied freedom in a landmark Michigan Territorial Court case; escape to Canada; and return to a prosperous life in Michigan. Abolitionists in Elmwood include Elijah Brush, Shubael Conant, and James Robinson. While the homes of many participants are gone, their burial sites memorialize their contributions to end slavery in North America and highlight Detroit’s role as the most important gateway to freedom in Canada.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: 1200 Elmwood Avenue, Detroit, 48207
Website: Elmwood Cemetery
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Historic Elmwood Foundation
Location Type: Site