Tombstones Vandalized at Flat Rock Cemetery

IMG_0255A cemetery in Flat Rock, Michigan, was vandalized shortly before Memorial Day weekend. It is always sad when someone vandalizes tombstones because the information on them is so important to the descendants of the deceased.

The Vreeland Cemetery is located in Flat Rock, Michigan. It is a small cemetery that is maintained by volunteers. The sign at the cemetery says “Vreeland Family Burying Ground Circa 1834”.

Find A Grave has some information on Michael Vreeland. He was born in 1761, in Essex County, New Jersey. He died on August 13, 1841, in Brownstown Township, Wayne County, Michigan. Michael Vreeland was originally buried in the Vreeland Cemetery.

The Flat Rock Historical Society Facebook page states that Michael Vreeland was a Revolutionary Patriot. His sons and their families are buried in the Vreeland Cemetery. The remains of Michael Vreeland were moved by a relative to Oakwood Cemetery a few years ago. Some of Vreeland’s sons served in the military, in the War of 1812 and Indian conflicts.

Find A Grave has a photo of Michael Vreeland’s tombstone. If you look closely, you can see a diagonal line crossing through it. The cemetery had a major restoration in 2014, and city funding helped to repair all the broken stones. The Flat Rock Historical Society Facebook page reports that all of the stones that were meticulously repaired a few years ago are again in pieces.

Vandals went to Vreeland Cemetery during the Memorial Day weekend and damaged several of the tombstones. They broke and toppled more than a dozen tombstones that dated back to the early and mid-1800s. It is unclear what the motive was. Some of the tombstones that were damaged belonged to veterans, but others did not.

What can genealogists learn from this sad story? It emphasizes how important it is to not only take good, clear, photos of tombstones, but also to share those photos online. Family members who arrive at a cemetery and discover that their ancestor’s tombstones have been smashed to pieces are going to be very upset. Your photo of those tombstones might be the only remaining information about the deceased.

The next time you visit a cemetery, try and take some photos of the tombstones that are not connected to your family. Find A Grave is a good place to post those photos. You might also check Facebook to see if there is a group that maintains the cemetery that you visited. They might be interested in sharing your cemetery photos with their followers.

Image by Bill Rice on Flickr.

Related Articles at

* The Story of St. Patrick’s Cemetery

* Unmarked Grave for a Veteran

* Soldiers – Civil War Graves

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