The Society has been indexing the headstones at the Hecla for several years. As part of that work, we have mapped the area with reference lines, found the cemetery survey markers, filed the information we gathered at the township and made it available to the public.
The Hecla cemetery, hidden on the edge of Laurium, was founded by the Calumet Mining Company and was continued by Calumet & Hecla (C & H). No records have been found as to who purchased the lots or who is buried there. Cemetery expenses continued in the C & H cash book records until about 1900 when on the 1st of May 1900, C & H leased Hecla cemetery to the Sacred Heart Church. They paid $1.00 per year for the lease and the last renewal was in 1931 after which they chose not to renew it and the cemetery continued to declined. C & H actually plotted the land in 1980 when they began selling off leased land and at that time the shape of the cemetery changed somewhat. The Hecla was sold as part of C & H's property to a land trust and has changed hand twice since then.
The earliest burial we have found to date is for John O'Brian in 1858, but the majority of burials found are from the 1880's through the 1900's. After about 1905 the number of burials dropped dramatically when the Catholic people finally started using Lakeside Cemetery. The last burial was in 1935 of Theresa Marston. It is unknown how many people were buried there, how many stones have disappeared to vandals or how many were removed to Lake View when it became the primary cemetery for the area. Currently we have over 800 names of burials taken from various sources such as newspaper obituaries, death certificates, funeral home records and tombstone readings.
Many rumors float around about the records being destroyed when the Sacred Heart church burned. Since Sacred Heart started their lease in 1900 when the cemetery was already in decline, it does not seem likely that the majority of the records from the 1860's to 1900 would not have been held by them.
In 1898 there were approximately 121 burials, in 1899 117 burials, in 1900 85 burials, in 1901 38 burials. With fewer and fewer each year. In 1920 we have only found 2 recorded burials so far.
There have been several attempts at clean up of the cemetery but none have had a lasting effect. As early as 1910, & again in 1929, they organized groups to raise funds for a clean up This usually included repairing the fencing & all of the broken or tipped stones. The last attempt was organized by Sacred Heart Church in 1958 when they took a bulldozer into the cemetery and tried to get rid of the brush in the hopes that it would prevent the teenagers of the area from using the cemetery as a hang out.
We now have purchased the Hecla Cemetery. We asked Calumet Township to go into this partnership with the Society in the ownership of the Hecla Cemetery and they agreed. Our plan is to donate it to Calumet Township with a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that it will remain a historic area cemetery in perpetuity and the Society will take the leadership role in the management of the Cemetery. In addition, as we continue to document headstones, we will work with the community to develop a restoration plan, do fund rising and grant writing to fund improvements and maintenance, and restrict access to the Cemetery to non motorized vehicles and foot traffic.
On October 3rd 2009, we had our first clean up work session in the cemetery. Tony Landini, the chairman of the clean up committee, staked out six small sections and we removed dead brush, marked trees to save and cut unwanted ones. This clean up process is not going to be a speedy one. It will most likely take many years to do everything we want to do.
Anyone willing to help in any aspect of the project should contact the society. You may not be able to cut trees or carry brush but might
be able to write letters, help with funding or many of the other tasks we need to accomplish. If you would like to be kept informed
on the project you can forward the your e-mail address to the president (see contact page) and it will be add it to the Cemetery email list.
Follow this link (NamesResearched) to names found by research of various sources. This research could include some of the names below.
Below are the names found on stones along with
other information that could be read. If a picture of the stone
was taken there will be a "yes" under the PHOTO title. To see
the photo, click on the "yes" and you will be directed to our
HECLA Cemetery section with photos taken by Greg Skoviak. To just browse
through the pictures,
click on the first "yes", then go onto the next set of pictures by clicking on NEXT. Other
HECLA photos can be found in the Cemeteries and Obituaries section
of the Michigan
GENWEB web site, Houghton County section.