October 22, 2021

27 famous people you might not have known were buried in Michigan

From pint-sized comedy actors to female serial killers, suicide doctors, and the Queen of Soul, Michigan is the final resting place of many well-known American entertainers, business leaders, activists, and even a victim of the infamous Charles Manson cult.

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27 famous people you might not have known were buried in Michigan
Sojourner Truth
Born into slavery in Swartekill, New York in 1797, Truth escaped to freedom in the late 1820s. After meeting Frederick Douglass and William Lloyld Garrison in New York City, Truth became an outspoken abolitionist. After the Civil War, she continued to speak on issues including prison reform, women’s rights, and aid for former slaves. Following her death in 1883, she was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek.
Photo via National Portrait Gallery / Wikimedia Commons

Sojourner Truth

Born into slavery in Swartekill, New York in 1797, Truth escaped to freedom in the late 1820s. After meeting Frederick Douglass and William Lloyld Garrison in New York City, Truth became an outspoken abolitionist. After the Civil War, she continued to speak on issues including prison reform, women’s rights, and aid for former slaves. Following her death in 1883, she was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek.

Photo via National Portrait Gallery / Wikimedia Commons
Ernie Harwell
He may be “loooong gone,” but Ernest “Ernie” Harwell, the legendary voice in the sports broadcasting world, lives on through Detroit baseball. Best known as the voice of the Detroit Tigers between 1960-1991, and again in 1993-2002, Harwell was raised in Atlanta and eventually served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He ended up announcing Major League games for teams like the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and the Baltimore Orioles. Harwell landed in Detroit and became a staple of Tigers baseball and has been honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was celebrated as the first recipient of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association’s Ernie Harwell Lifetime Contribution Award. A year later, Harwell died at the age of 92 of cancer. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Farmington. 
Photo via mwlguide / Wikimedia Commons

Ernie Harwell

He may be “loooong gone,” but Ernest “Ernie” Harwell, the legendary voice in the sports broadcasting world, lives on through Detroit baseball. Best known as the voice of the Detroit Tigers between 1960-1991, and again in 1993-2002, Harwell was raised in Atlanta and eventually served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He ended up announcing Major League games for teams like the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and the Baltimore Orioles. Harwell landed in Detroit and became a staple of Tigers baseball and has been honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was celebrated as the first recipient of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association’s Ernie Harwell Lifetime Contribution Award. A year later, Harwell died at the age of 92 of cancer. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Farmington.

Photo via mwlguide / Wikimedia Commons
Son House
A former preacher from Mississippi, at the age of 25 Edward James "Son" House Jr. converted to the blues, where his slide guitar playing caught the attention of Charley Patton. While House's recordings originally sold poorly, his career had a second wind thanks to the blues revival of the 1960s. He retired in 1974, and later moved to Detroit, where he died in 1988 at age 86. He is buried at the Mt. Hazel Cemetery, where members of the Detroit Blues Society raised money through benefit concerts to build a monument.
Photo Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

Son House

A former preacher from Mississippi, at the age of 25 Edward James "Son" House Jr. converted to the blues, where his slide guitar playing caught the attention of Charley Patton. While House's recordings originally sold poorly, his career had a second wind thanks to the blues revival of the 1960s. He retired in 1974, and later moved to Detroit, where he died in 1988 at age 86. He is buried at the Mt. Hazel Cemetery, where members of the Detroit Blues Society raised money through benefit concerts to build a monument.

Photo Public domain, Wikimedia Commons
Pervis Jackson
Motown greats the Spinners have kept spinning thanks to their rich and long-lasting music legacy. Pervis Jackson, an original member of the Domingos, and later, the Spinners, served as the group’s bass singer and performed hits like “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” and “Might Love.” The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, at which point they continued to tour. Jackson died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 70. He's buried at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery. 
Photo via Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons 
(Jackson is pictured far right)

Pervis Jackson

Motown greats the Spinners have kept spinning thanks to their rich and long-lasting music legacy. Pervis Jackson, an original member of the Domingos, and later, the Spinners, served as the group’s bass singer and performed hits like “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” and “Might Love.” The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, at which point they continued to tour. Jackson died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 70. He's buried at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

Photo via Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
(Jackson is pictured far right)
Verne Troyer
While he may have been a small guy — 2’8’’ to be exact — with a larger-than-life legacy, few know that Austin Powers’ scene-stealer Verne Troyer was a Michigan native. The actor had a genetic disorder known as achondroplasia dwarfism, which inspired his Hollywood career, starting in 1994 when he performed as a stunt double in the film Baby’s Day Out. After a series of film appearances, his breakout role in 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me as Dr. Evil’s silent, but expressive, pint-sized clone, was also his seminal performance. He continued to appear on a variety of films and TV series, including VH1 reality show The Surreal Life. Troyer died from alchol poisoning in 2018 at the age of 49. He is buried in Leonidas Cemetery in St. Joseph County. 
Photo via Rob DiCaterino / Wikimedia Commons

Verne Troyer

While he may have been a small guy — 2’8’’ to be exact — with a larger-than-life legacy, few know that Austin Powers’ scene-stealer Verne Troyer was a Michigan native. The actor had a genetic disorder known as achondroplasia dwarfism, which inspired his Hollywood career, starting in 1994 when he performed as a stunt double in the film Baby’s Day Out. After a series of film appearances, his breakout role in 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me as Dr. Evil’s silent, but expressive, pint-sized clone, was also his seminal performance. He continued to appear on a variety of films and TV series, including VH1 reality show The Surreal Life. Troyer died from alchol poisoning in 2018 at the age of 49. He is buried in Leonidas Cemetery in St. Joseph County.

Photo via Rob DiCaterino / Wikimedia Commons
Rosa Parks
Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks moved to Detroit in the late 1950s, following her role in the historic Montgomery bus boycott. She worked as a secretary and receptionist in the congressional office of U.S. Rep. John Conyers. Later, Parks was a board member of Planned Parenthood. Following her death in 2005, she was buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
Photo via National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group / Wikimedia Commons

Rosa Parks

Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks moved to Detroit in the late 1950s, following her role in the historic Montgomery bus boycott. She worked as a secretary and receptionist in the congressional office of U.S. Rep. John Conyers. Later, Parks was a board member of Planned Parenthood. Following her death in 2005, she was buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

Photo via National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group / Wikimedia Commons
Aileen Wournos
Born in Rochester, Aileen Wournos is remembered as one of the most notorious female serial killers of the 20th century. After a childhood of neglect and abuse, Wournos traveled between Florida and Michigan, committing petty crimes and assault. In 1991, she confessed to the murders of six men between 1989 and 1990. After her execution in Florida in 2002, her ashes were scattered under a tree in an undisclosed location in Michigan.
Photo via Photo via Florida Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons

Aileen Wournos

Born in Rochester, Aileen Wournos is remembered as one of the most notorious female serial killers of the 20th century. After a childhood of neglect and abuse, Wournos traveled between Florida and Michigan, committing petty crimes and assault. In 1991, she confessed to the murders of six men between 1989 and 1990. After her execution in Florida in 2002, her ashes were scattered under a tree in an undisclosed location in Michigan.

Photo via Photo via Florida Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons
Dodge Brothers
John and Horace Dodge founded the Dodge Brothers Company in 1900. The company began as a supplier for Ford Motor Company, and later the brothers began producing automobiles under their own name. John (right) and Horace (left) both died in 1920 after contracting influenza and pneumonia in New York during the flu pandemic of 1918. They were buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn cemetery.
Photo of Horace Dodge via Jbarta / Wikimedia Commons
Photo of John Dodge via Jbarta / Wikimedia Commons

Dodge Brothers

John and Horace Dodge founded the Dodge Brothers Company in 1900. The company began as a supplier for Ford Motor Company, and later the brothers began producing automobiles under their own name. John (right) and Horace (left) both died in 1920 after contracting influenza and pneumonia in New York during the flu pandemic of 1918. They were buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn cemetery.

Photo of Horace Dodge via Jbarta / Wikimedia Commons
Photo of John Dodge via Jbarta / Wikimedia Commons
Henry Ford
The industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company is one of Michigan’s most well-known residents. He was a proponent of the assembly line and is remembered for turning the automobile from a luxury indulgence into an affordable necessity. After his death in 1947, Ford was buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit.
Photo via MM Photos / Shutterstock

Henry Ford

The industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company is one of Michigan’s most well-known residents. He was a proponent of the assembly line and is remembered for turning the automobile from a luxury indulgence into an affordable necessity. After his death in 1947, Ford was buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit.

Photo via