The Hecla cemetery, sometimes call the Sacred Heart or Laurium Cemetery, hidden on the edge of Laurium, was founded by the Calumet Mining Company and continued by Calumet & Hecla (C & H). No records have been found as to who purchased the lots or who was 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. The Church 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 had changed hand twice before Houghton Keweenaw County Genealogical Society purchased it.
The earliest burial we found to date is for John O'Brian in 1858. He was originally buried in another location and moved to the Hecla. The majority of burials found are from the 1880's through the 1900's. Between the beginning to 1899 we found 527 records of burials. From 1900 until 1940 there were 335. After about 1905 the number of burials dropped dramatically when the Catholic people finally started using Lakeside Cemetery. The last burial was of Johana O’Neil on 18 July 1940. 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.
There have been several attempts to clean up the cemetery but none have had a lasting effect. As early as 1910, again in 1929, they organized groups to raise funds for a cleanup. 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. This continues to be an issue.
We purchased the Hecla Cemetery with the understanding from the owner that it would always remain one. We donated it to Calumet Township with a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that it will remain a historic area cemetery in perpetuity.
Photos below by Greg Skoviak.
A spreadsheet listing of headstones at the Hecla Cemetery, including some not pictured below, can be found here.