Detroit’s Sacred Heart of St. Mary Cemetery’s Burial Records Nearing End of Their Reconstruction

The following excerpt is from an AP article posted May 20, 2011 at MLive.com:


A decades-long quest to reconstruct thousands of missing burial records at a Detroit cemetery is nearing its end.

The Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan tackled the mystery 20 years ago after it found out that Sacred Heart of St. Mary Cemetery‘s burial records were gone.

The effort was set to draw closer to a finishing point on Saturday, when the society’s members, assisted by a Boy Scout troop, are to uncover 1,000 buried gravestones.

Sweetest Heart of Mary Church opened the cemetery in 1889 after members were excommunicated for joining the splinter church and couldn’t be buried in a regular Catholic cemetery.

Early burial records were destroyed by a flood of the church basement and a fire at the cemetery office.

The genealogical group filled the void by scouring death certificates and monument company sales records and collecting information from each gravestone in the three-block-long cemetery.

“I’m a nostalgic person,” Roger Laske, who helped revive the project in 2009, told The Detroit News. “I just feel sorry for people who are looking for ancestors but can’t find them.”

Members of the genealogical society were tracing their family roots in 1991 when they learned about the damaged burial records. The missing data spanned from 1889 to 1940.

The society’s members decided to try to re-create the records.

Little did they know, they’d still be at it two decades later.

Read the full article.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (www.FamilyRootsPublishing.com), writes daily at GenealogyBlog.com, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

15 thoughts on “Detroit’s Sacred Heart of St. Mary Cemetery’s Burial Records Nearing End of Their Reconstruction”

  1. Hello Ms. Sperre,
    I still live in Metro Detroit and actually went to Sacred Heart Cemetery a couple of weeks ago to pray and see my family members who are buried there. I was unable to find your mother’s grave, however,would you be able to tell me if her full name (eileen virginia bemis borgi) would be on her stone or not? I spoke with a helpful worker at the cemetery, however we were still unable to locate it. I can try again if I know the exact spelling of her name and the approximate birth and/or death year. They are also trying to uncover graves from the early 20th century. thank you and take care.

  2. Hello, My name is Fred Kuplicki from Heritage Research… and I have been the Sacred Heart of St Mary Cemetery Project Director, on behalf of the Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan for the past 17 years.

    Your mother is buried in the South Plot Section SG Row 1 Grave 40B
    Addres Name Born Died
    SG1040B BORGHI EILEEN 1923 22-Mar 1991

    I’ll be glad to take a photo for you on my next trip to the cemetery.

    Is there a possibility that your mother was cremated?

    More info regarding the cemetery including a video presentation can be seen on my web page http://www.kupcomedia.com under the Heritage Research section. You can also contact me at heritage@kupcomedia.com

  3. Hi my mother birthday is today.. her name is Tenika Hiter. I need to know exactly where shes buried my family never got a headstone! Can you please help me

  4. I thought my family grave sites were lost and would really like to know if their graves have been found, I know they were in parts of the older sections. John Baranowski would be a good one to start with, he was buried in 1912. Any help would be appreciated

  5. I am looking for any information on relatives buried at Sacred Heart of St. Mary Cemetery. My father brought me there about 10 -12 years ago and I have pictures of 4 gravesites, but I am starting to research some genealogy records, I have heard that more relatives that might have been buried there. The names I am interested in are burial sites with Suminski, Anna Bator Suminski and Radke. I have heard that an Anna Suminski Radke, a John Suminski might be buried there and posssibly an Elisabeth Suminski Miller or Mueller also being buried at Sacred Heart. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!!!

  6. I am looking for graves of Kolaczkowski’s. I have looked at many records and could not find any of them so I think they would all be here as I think this was their parish.
    Looking for Joseph, Julia, Lucia, Walter, Leo, Boleslaw, Anna,or any others. So appreciate any help. Thank you

  7. Have been looking for years for relatives there. Piotr Chojnacki Walentina Krajenke Chojnacki(a), Christine Caroline Chojnacki(a).

  8. Good Morning! I would like to locate the plots of my Great Grandfather, Valentine Kortas and my two Uncles, Leonard Kortas & Robert Kortas. We were visiting (next door) at the Mt Olivet Cemetery and did not have time to talk to the staff at Sacred Heart. Thank you!

  9. Hello sir,

    Please help me locate the plot of my brother Masekela Jackson. I want to put a tombstone finally on his gravesite after all these years…..
    Thank you

  10. We have been trying to locate the grave site for my Uncle Melvin Trzaska (could be spelled Trazaska) and wonder if he is buried at Sacred Heart of St Mary.

    Thank You
    Patricia Wallon

  11. hi,my moms grave Eileen Virginia Bemis borghi does not have a stone.i intend on getting her one.would you be able to send me a photo of her grave site.ty.was there any obituary?are there any relatives?i just need to know.ty.francie sperre

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