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On December 17, 2011, Ray Township Historical Society (RTHS) members gathered at the historic 1827 Lee Cemetery to view the newly installed Lee Cemetery sign and reminisced about the Lee Cemetery Restoration project.

Perusing the archives about the Lee Cemetery, the RTHS discovered this restoration project began in 1975 with the work of the newly formed Ray Township Historical Commission, the Ray Davis Extension Club, and the Ray Township Bicentennial Committee. These groups, in conjunction with Arbor Week and the Bicentennial, cleaned the Lee Cemetery and purchased, donated, and planted shrubs, trees, and evergreens in the cemetery and other Ray Township locations. Charles Farnsworth reset the headstone of the Civil War soldier, Albert Pickle, who died in 1864. Dolores Fowler, chairperson of Ray Township Historical Commission, noted at that time that the group uncovered five headstones in the Cemetery and hoped to erect a sign to identify the Lee Cemetery.

Over the next thirty years, plans to continue improvements ceased and the Lee Cemetery once again fell into disrepair. The newly formed Ray Township Historical Society, at the recommendation of longtime Ray Township resident and current township trustee, Betty Grader, resurrected the restoration project in 2005. The RTHS initiated fundraising for the project and a number of activities commenced, including surveying the gravestones, plotting the property boundaries, and recording the plant species. Along the way, Connie Firestine, RTHS president at that time, was led to an important document that would shed light on some of the early owners of this quaint one-acre cemetery. Local historian, Pat Hallman, informed the RTHS about a deed recorded in Macomb County on January 28, 1859 showing the transfer of the property from Josiah Lee to Thomas Cooper, et al on September 25, 1841. The deed specified that the land was to be used as a burial ground.

Documentation of those individuals buried in the Lee Cemetery was complicated by the fact that there were no records that could be used to positively identify burials that had taken place. The State of Michigan did not require death certificates until 1867. Over the years, a number of readings have been recorded, ranging from 53 - 57 burials, but many of the existing headstones were weathered, broken, and difficult to read. Since the recordings were based on names found on headstones, there could be many other unrecorded graves. Individuals, whose headstones had fallen and became buried or were removed from the cemetery, were not recorded in these documents.

In 2005, volunteers began tackling the difficult job of removing the years of debris from the Lee Cemetery, probing for buried headstones, deciphering information on the headstones, and documenting the plant-life. The group uncovered four buried markers, including that of Appollos Millar, a Civil War veteran. A volunteer from the Macomb County Master Gardener Program completed a plant-life survey. The old wooden post-and-wire fencing, along with many trees and weeds twisted into it, was removed and flowerbeds were constructed and planted. In 2007, a new fence was installed around the entire one-acre site. A Community Development Block Grant, Ray Township Historical Society fundraisers, and generous donations from individuals and community organizations funded the new fence portion of the project.

The next restoration phase involved cleaning, repairing, leveling, and mortaring the monuments and headstones to preserve and protect them while honoring the memory of the early settlers of Ray Township. Stonehugger Restoration Company was contracted to complete the professional restoration in two phases from 2009-2010 and photograph and record all the information on the markers into a binder to be stored in the RTHS archives. On December 2, 2011, a sign identifying the Lee Cemetery designed by member, Brian Alfonsi, was lifted into position across the arched gate. Sponsors of this phase of the RTHS’s project included the Four County Community Foundation, the Davis United Methodist Church, the VFW Post 6802 of Richmond, and many other generous organizations and individuals.

The Ray Township Historical Society would like to thank everyone involved in the project over the past 36 years. A Rededication Ceremony is presently in the planning stages and anticipated for the weekend of May 19-20, 2012 to formally thank everyone involved in the project and remember those who helped settle the Jewel of Macomb County, Ray Township. Contact Terry at 586-784-9221 or for information on attending or helping organize the event.

The names of individuals and organizations are accurate as far as records indicate. If the RTHS inadvertently omitted or incorrectly identified anyone or any group, please contact the RTHS.


Four County Community Foundation

Davis United Methodist Church
VFW Post 6802 of Richmond

Duncan-Sullivan Amvets Post #72 of NewHaven
Faith Free Will Baptist Church of Ray Township
Amy Haden and LexisNexis of Charlottesville, Virginia
Mrs. Phyllis Kreger of Ray Township
Mountaintop Church of Ray Township
Ray Township Firefighters Club
Ray Township Lions Club
Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons, Inc of Shelby Township

Harry Awdey
Mr. & Mrs. Graham
Troy Jeschke
Kim Meltzer
Mr. & Mrs. Ostrand
Richard Pointe
Keith Rengert
Betty Verellen
Mr. & Mrs. Earl Wangelin


Community Development Block Grant funds through the Township of Ray
Robert & Cherie Allen
Tom & Janet Caponi
Carl & Janet Dempsey
Terry & Connie Firestine
Kimberly A O’Brien
Robert & Beverly Rang
Ray Township Lions


Ray Township Historical Society members, friends, and family
Boy Scout Troop – constructed flower beds
Kevin & Susan Brown – provided top soil
Gary & Vicky Campbell - donated rose bushes
Jenny Cerasuolo, leader of Huron Crusaders – cleaned headstones
Frank & Betty Grader – provided sand
Lisa Kavanaugh – completed a plant survey
Gregg King, Canton Twp Historical Commission – provided an in-service on restoring
historic cemeteries
Urban Land Consultants - Mr. Robert W Lindh, PE, Ernie Graves, Warren Avey, Jarett
Miller - donated a survey of the Lee Cemetery


Ray Davis Extension Club and Ray Township Bicentennial Committee
Charles & Valerie Farnsworth
John & Dolores Fowler and family
Gerald & Marge Harder
Delmar & Jo McDonald
Fred & Susan Parr
Robert & Crystal Teller
Tom & Delores Whiting

Carrol Sherman, Ray nurseryman – donated trees and shrubs