Beebe Cemetery

Rose Township

The land that officially became Rose Township in 1837 was likely first home to Native Americans long before that. Evidence for this includes prehistoric artifacts found in the area and the existence of a significant Native American trail that cut diagonally across the land. By the 1830s this trail had turned into a rough road and people began to purchase land along it for farms. That road runs right in front of this cemetery today.

Rose Corners

In 1838 a small tavern/hotel was built where Hickory Ridge intersects Rose Center Road today. Over time a small village called Rose Corners developed in that area. The tavern was expanded and joined by another small hotel called Rose Place. At one time the village had two blacksmith shops as well as a school just south of town. Old records even suggest it had a tailor shop at one time.

Buckhorn Village and Rose Center

As more people settled in the township a small village began to form where Demode Road intersects with Milford Road today. Despite a failed attempt to build a mill there Buckhorn Village soon had a small tannery, a store, a blacksmith shop and a hotel. When the Holly, Wayne and Monroe Railroad was built through Rose Township in the 1870s, the commercial center shifted down the road and Buckhorn Village was replaced by Rose Center.

Beebe Cemetery

The Beebe Cemetery began on land belonging to the Anson Beebe family and was likely the family cemetery in the beginning. The first burial appears to be that of A. Hovey in 1837. The Beebe and Hovey families were related by marriage. In many records the cemetery is referred to as the Rose Center Cemetery. Many residents of that small community are buried in this cemetery.

Albert Bennett

Albert Bennett was born in 1789 in New York but there are conflicting records regarding the county in which he was born. He was married to Rachel Warner in Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, New York in 1813 and records indicate his first children were born in Sand Lake in 1813 and 1815. After this time, it appears Albert moved to Virginia and then to Ohio and then back to New York. Reasons for the frequent moves are unknown. In New York the family was in Parma in Monroe County and in Gaines in Orleans County which was only 20 miles west of Parma. Around 1835, the family made the move to Michigan. They appear to have first lived in Pontiac, but by 1840 they were living in Rose Township in Section 21 on a farm just a half mile east of this cemetery. Records indicate the farm land was actually owned by Albert’s half- sister Charity Miller. She was one of only four women to have been original land owners in Rose Township. Upon her death in 1852 Albert inherited the land which eventually passed to his son Willard. Records indicate Albert Bennett was associated with many prominent abolitionists in Oakland County and likely favored the abolition of slavery himself. Sadly few records exist that offer any details about Albert’s life. He died in 1864 and his wife Rachel died in 1881. They are buried here in Beebe Cemetery.

Margaret Gordon Esler

Margaret Gordon was born in Antrim County in Northern Ireland in 1826. She was the daughter of James and Jane Gordon. In 1847 she came to the United States with her family. They settled on Long Island, New York. Around 1852 she married John Esler on Long Island. He was a carpenter who had also immigrated to New York from Antrim County, Northern Ireland. In 1853 their first child, John was born. One year later, in 1854, they moved to Michigan and settled in Rose Townhip. It appears they had followed her parents to Rose. The Gordons had moved there in 1852 purchasing farm land in section 21.  Margaret and John purchased 80 Acres of land in Section 16 just a half a mile north of her parents. In 1856 Margaret’s daughter Eliza was born and in 1859 her son James. Her last child, Margaret, was born in 1861. Sadly James died that same year when he was only 2 ½ years old. Margaret soon faced another tragedy when her husband, John, died in August of 1863 leaving her a widow with 3 young children. Margaret managed to keep the farm going which must have been a very difficult task for the young widow. Eventually her son John took over the farm. She continued to live with her son and his family until her death in 1896. The Esler farm became part of what is now Rose Oaks County Park, a park that includes beautiful Esler Lake.

William Fillingham

William Fillingham was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1815. In 1838 he married Elizabeth Rhodes but sadly she died just 4 months later. He then moved in with his brother Edmund and his family. Both brothers worked as farm laborers. Around 1842 William married Elizabeth Buck. They moved to the United States about one year later. Edmund, his brother, also moved to the U.S. with his family. William and Elizabeth first settled in West Bloomfield Township where they rented farm land and had seven children. Around 1854 they purchased 80 acres of land in Section 16 of Rose Township. William’s brother Edmund had settled there earlier in Section 23. By 1860 they had had two more children. Sadly, they had also lost one, Joseph, who died in 1858 just before his second birthday. He was buried in Rose Center Cemetery. William had a successful farm and added another 80 acres to it. His farm eventually became part of Rose Oaks County Park. A foundation for one of his small barns still exists in the park. In 1873 William and Elizabeth lost another child, Julia, who was just 22. She is buried here near her parents. About 10 years later, in 1884, Elizabeth died of consumption, another name for tuberculosis. William never remarried. He continued to live on his farm until his death in 1898. His cause of death was listed as heart failure due to old age. The farm stayed in the Fillingham family until the early 1950s.

Joel Craft

Joel Craft, who was born in New York in 1808, was an original land patent owner in Rose Township. He had patents for 320 acres, one of the largest original land purchases in the township. He and a number of his family members and extended family members left Rose Township, Wayne County, New York to come to the Michigan Territory around 1835. A number of them came to Rose Township, Oakland County, Michigan and to nearby surrounding townships. Since members of the Craft family were such early settlers in Rose Township and they had come from Rose Township, New York it is possible it was their family who gave Oakland County’s Rose Township its name. The 1840 census lists Joel Craft as living alone in Rose. In 1846, he married Rebecca Burrows, the sister of his neighbor Delebar Burrows who was also an original land patent owner in Rose. Joel and Rebecca had a daughter, Melissa, in 1847 but she died the same year. Sadly Rebecca died just three years later in 1850. That same year Joel married Elsie Tremper whose family owned land just to the north in Holly Township. Joel and Elsie had six children. Elsie died in 1863. The gravestone next to that of Joel Craft marks Elsie’s grave as well as that of his first wife Rebecca. Joel married a third time, this time to Mary Jane Fillingham, one of the daughters of William Fillingham who is buried nearby in this cemetery. Mary Jane was thirty-one years younger than Joel. Together then had two children. Over time Joel Craft developed one of the most valuable farms in Rose Township. It was located about one mile north of Rose Corners and included Craft School, a one-room school built in the 1850s. The 1870 agricultural census valued his farm at $16,000, a much higher value than most of the other farms in the township. He was farming 200 acres at the time and harvesting over 1000 bushels of wheat a year in addition to large amounts of rye and corn. His livestock included almost 200 sheep. Joel Craft died in 1873 of what his death certificate described as an ‘ulcer of the stomach’. In his will he left all his real and personal estate to his wife Mary Jane. His estate was valued at $50,000, the equivalent of over one million dollars today.

Anson Beebe

Anson Beebe was born in 1785 in New Hampshire. His father, Seba Beebe, had served as a corporal and sergeant during the American Revolution. The family moved to Vermont in the 1790s. In 1795 Seba was found guilty of counterfeiting Spanish coins, a common but serious crime in those days. As punishment his right ear was cut off and he was branded with the letter “C” on his forehead. Following this event the family moved across the Vermont border into Quebec where they founded a settlement that became known as Beebe Plain. Anson Beebe, their youngest child, married Abigail Young in this settlement around 1810. Sometime in the 1820s it appears they moved to the state of New York. From there they moved to Michigan around 1836 and purchased 160 acres in Section 20 of Rose Township. Anson Beebe set up a small tavern on his land along what was then called the White Lake Road. The tavern was likely very near this cemetery which is also on what was once the Beebe farm. Anson Beebe died in 1847 and was likely the first burial in this cemetery with the exception of the mystery burial of someone named Hovey in 1837. Abigail Beebe died in 1859 and was buried here also.

Hovey Stone

This gravestone is a mystery. The name on it has been read as both “Dort A. Hovey” and “Doct A. Hovey.” Neither matches anyone in existing Rose Township records. Whoever the person was they died on August 4, 1837. This creates another problem. It has always been believed that the first burial in this cemetery was that of Anson Beebe in 1847. Therefore, how could someone have been buried in a cemetery ten years before it was officially a cemetery. It is likely that Hovey was someone known to the Beebe family or even more likely related to the family and therefore buried on the Beebe farm before the cemetery was created. Such farm burials were not unusual in Michigan in the 1830s when there were few cemeteries. The fact that the Hovey gravestone is greenstone with very simple engraving is further indication of a simple farm burial Greenstone is metamorphosed basalt and occurs commonly as surface rocks in southeast Michigan. The gravestone does not look altered by human sculpting and the inscription is on a natural facet. Likely the size, shape, color, convenience, along with the nice facet for inscription was the reason it was chose for the gravestone. This suggests a stone cutter and gravestones such as marble were not available in the area. But the question remains who was Hovey? There are Hoveys connected to the Beebe Family. For example, Anson Beebe’s son, who was also named Anson, married Elizabeth Hovey. Perhaps this Hovey is related to Elizabeth. His daughter, Laura, married Alexander Hovey who was an original landowner in Rose Township. Alexander died well after 1837 so this cannot be his grave. However, could Hovey have been a baby of Laura’s and Alexander’s that died young? Although their marriage date is unknown they do appear in the 1840 census with two children under the age of 5 so it is likely they married in the late 1830s. They may have had a third child that died in 1837. Of course, if Hovey was a doctor, as one interpretation of the engraving suggests, this couldn’t be the case! Clearly, this gravestone remains a mystery!

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