Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WHERE THE LILACS ONCE GREW: Union Chapel Cemetery

3GGF TITUS DORT-GGM MAE L. DORT
Union Chapel    Cemetery
Inkster, Michigan
Where the Lilacs Once Grew

Over fifty years ago, my great grandma was buried in a small cemetery only a few miles west of where my Dort 'family tree' was planted in Michigan.  Vermont-born Titus Dort and his brothers Josiah, Calvin, and James came to Michigan from Ohio in 1824 on a cattle drive with their father.*  Two years later, twenty year-old Titus and Josiah, 16, returned to set up a brick manufacturing business.  By 1833 Titus had secured a federal contract to supply the bricks to construct the Detroit Arsenal.** He also began to establish himself as a life-long public servant: Dearborn township school commissioner, township assessor and justice of the peace, leading to  numerous other appointments he accepted throughout his lifetime.  Titus went on to serve in Michigan politics *** as a State Representative (1839, 1842, 1865-66) and State Senator (1849-52).  In 1849 he was chairman of the State Commission of Agriculture, instrumental in establishing the State Agricultural College that soon became Michigan State University -the first U. S. institution of higher learning to teach scientific agriculture.  
Titus and his wife Deiadamia had one son, Andrew Jackson Dort, born 1831 in Dearborn.  With his father busy in civic duties, Andrew ran the family 'market garden' farm.  He married Lydia Secord Winsor and raised a large family including:
-Titus Mortimer
-Jay Wilke
-George Brenton
-Kesiah (Kizzie) Augusta
-Deiadamia (Damia) Pauline
-William Ten Eyck
-Mae Louise and
-Asa J. 
Many of the Dort family are buried at Union Chapel Cemetery -including Titus and his brother Josiah (father of Dallas Dort), Titus' wife, Deiadamia, their son Andrew Jackson and wife Lydia, A. J.'s sons William T. E, infant Asa, and youngest daughter -my great grandmother- Mae Louise.  
While researching my family tree, I discovered that -among all the old graves in the Dort plot- only my great grandma Mae's headstone was unfinished:  the last two digits of her death date had not been incised.  With the helpful assistance of the cemetery caretaker, Delores Murley Bailey, I was able to complete this long-overdue task last month.  Thank you, Delores!

2015 photo courtesy of Julie Hahn
 Established in 1833, Union Chapel Cemetery depends on donations for its upkeep.  In addition to annual placement of Memorial Day graveside flags and regular mowing of the grounds, ongoing maintenance is done to keep the 2-acre property and its many gravesites looking nice.  We thank Delores and her husband for over thirty years of dedication to this service.  If you are interested in making a contribution to the upkeep of our ancestors' resting place, please contact: Union Chapel Cemetery c/o Delores Murley Bailey, 7170 Edwards, Belleville, MI  48111.

* (read Titus' story found in Pioneer Collections "A Personal Reminiscence" p.507)
** (from http://www.motorcities.org/pdf/DearbornTourismGuide.pdf  (c)2013. p 21)  "Construction of the new Detroit Arsenal was completed in 1837.  The complex consisted of 11 buildings enclosed by a wall 12 feet high and 2 1/2 feet thick.  Finally, the new Powder Magazine, located 940 feet east of the Arsenal, was completed in 1839.  Since much of the construction material for the Arsenal was obtained locally, the Arsenal provided jobs for many local residents.  Brick manufacturers, such as Titus Dort eventually constructed a kiln on the Arsenal grounds and produced his bricks on site."

*** (from "Genealogy of the Dart Family In America" by Thaddeus Lincoln Bolton, 1927)
p. 37 "[Titus Dort] served about six terms in the lower house of the Michigan Legislature and about four terms in the Upper House.  He served on the Committee on Agriculture and was responsible in some measure for founding the Agricultural College at Lansing, Mich., and for laying out the plan for organizing the Public Schools of Michigan which has been adopted in large measure in all the other states in the Union.  His farm house stands between Dearborn and Detroit about a mile and a half east of Dearborn, and is owned by Henry Ford..." 

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