Explore one of Muskegon’s oldest cemeteries and learn about our community’s history at the 10th annual ‘City of the Dead’

City of the Dead actors at Evergreen Cemetery. Photo via City of the Dead.

The 10th annual “City of the Dead” is returning to Evergreen Cemetery this Saturday, Oct. 12, and Sunday, Oct. 13, when current residents will be able to learn about our community’s denizens from long ago—all while exploring one of Muskegon’s oldest cemeteries.

The Saturday tours will begin at 5pm, with the last tour starting at 8pm. Sunday tours kick off at 2pm, and the last tour will commence at 4pm. Tours are $5 per person; children under the age of six are free. Tickets may be purchased at the gate of Evergreen Cemetery, located at 391 Irwin Ave.

During the event, community members portray various Muskegon residents from the past. This year, some of the characters you will meet include: Dr. Eimer, an optometrist from North Muskegon; Fred Flanders, an industrialist; Millie Peck, a teacher in Muskegon’s early schools; L.C. Walker; and others. You can expect a cameo appearance by Charles Hackley, who is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Evergreen Cemetery is one of Muskegon’s oldest cemeteries, with tombstones from 150 years ago. Photo via City of the Dead.

Additionally, during the tour, participants will visit Evergreen’s potter’s field, a space where an unknown number of people are buried. Potter’s fields are spaces where the unclaimed dead, the unknown, and the very poor were buried. This article about the Evergreen Cemetery notes that a Muskegon Chronicle article from 1899 lists 75 burials in the potter’s field, with the same number of burials happening there each year before.

Featuring tombs up to 150 years old, Evergreen Cemetery is home to many of Muskegon’s historical figures, including Charles Hackley, Thomas Hume and Captain Jonathan Walker—an abolitionist whose hand was branded by the U.S. government with the initials SS for “slave stealer” in 1844 after he attempted to navigate seven slaves to freedom. 

During the “City of the Dead” tours, The Coffee Factory will offer a pop-up shop. “City of the Dead” is sponsored by the Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation. For more information about this weekend’s events, please click here. To learn more about Evergreen Cemetery, you can go here.

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