St. Paul Cemetery Tour
By J. William Gorski - June 6, 1981

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Three hundred and two years ago, LaSalle sailed into Lake St. Clair. That was in the year 1679. I hope LaSalle had a day like we have today, as this would be great for sailing. Twenty-two years later, in 1701, Cadillac sailed up the Detroit River and, with the permission of the King of France, settled at Fort Pontchartrain. Some of the early French that came to the Detroit area about the time Cadillac did were Moran, Vernier, Gouin, Trombley, St. Antoine, and Rivard. Neither LaSalle or Cadillac stayed in the area, but this is where it all began for Detroit.

GPHS Cemetery Tour - October 2008Some early settlers like Beaufait came directly from France. Other early French first went to Quebec in the 1600's, and then to the Detroit area in the 1700's. France had a large garrison in Quebec between 1600 and 1700. Around 1700 the garrison was drastically reduced, and rather than go back to France, many French, some with wives, came to Detroit and the Grosse Pointe area. The early French that came to the Grosse Pointe area lived on strip farms that went from Lake St. Clair to the west side of Gratiot. Many of these farmers had large orchards, and others fished Lake St. Clair and traded furs with the Indians.

In 1825 the first St. Paul's Church was built on the Reno farm, which was just east of where the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club is today. The first St. Paul's had no cemetery. Most people in those days had little family cemeteries on their farms and estates.

In 1863 the first St. Paul's Cemetery was located behind St. Paul's Church on Lake Shore, where the church parking lot is today. This land was purchased from the George and Theresa Moran family on the first of November, 1863 for the sum of $200.00. In 1868 St. Paul's Church purchased 1.86 acres of land from the Moross family for the sum of $425.00, as the cemetery behind the church was too small.

Today as we look at the stones in St. Paul's, we recognize many street names which are in the Detroit and Grosse Pointe area, and to mention a few, we find ALLARD, ALLOR, BEAUFAIT, CADIEUX, COOK, FRAZHO, GROESBECK, KERBY, MARTIN, MORAN, MOROSS, NEFF, NEWBERRY, RENAUD, RIVARD, RUSS, RUSSELL, & VERNIER.

Father Elsen, one of the founders of St. Paul's Church as we see it today, is the only known priest in this cemetery. Fr. Elsen's grave was first marked by a large wooden cross, and later an elm tree was planted over his grave. The large elm behind me is that tree. These stones which we see today represent the early settlers, their children, and their children's children.

Catherine Vernier, wife of John B. Vernier, is the earliest buried on the 21st on August 1831. She was 65 years old. Her husband, John B. Vernier, was buried three years later on the 29th of January, 1834, at the age of eighty-one. Both burials predate the first St. Paul's Cemetery by some thirty years. John B. Vernier's father was Laurence Vernier, who came from France to Canada, where John B. was most likely born. John B.'s grandfather was also named John. John B. Vernier put in claim No. 156 for 220.05 acres of land in Grosse Pointe on the 16th of June, 1808. He was a farmer.

Here we find the grave of Maglory Moross. Maglory Moross is the only Moross in this cemetery. He died on the 5th of May, 1862, at the age of twenty-eight. The Moross family farm, which was in Grosse Pointe Farms, went from the lake to Mack Avenue along with the road which carries their name. The first Moross to come to America was Claude Moross. He was born in 1719 in Paris, France. His father was Godfory Moross and his mother was Ann Deroche. Claude went to Canada, was married on the 13th of February, 1741, and was buried on the 6th of February, 1744, in Ste. Faye, Canada. Nicolas Anthony Moross, son of Claude, was born in Ste. Faye, Canada about the 1740's. He came to Detroit and married Mary Ann Bover. That was on the 25th of October, 1773. Nicolas was buried on the 20th of February 1804. The Moross family were mostly farmers; however, I did find that some were surveyors in the St. Clair County area.

James Moran was born in 1661 in France. James went to Quebec, Canada in the 1690's. George Moran is his great-great grandson, and this large stone marks the grave of George and Theresea (Trombley) Moran. You remember the first St. Pauls's Cemetery was part of their farm on Lake Shore Drive, which was in the 1860's.

Other Morans can be traced back to 1651, in France. The first Morans to come to America came to Quebec. The Pierre Moran family was the first. Their children were clergy, lawyers and land proprietors. Some Morans were in this area (Detroit) at the same time Cadillac was.

This is the grave of Louis L. Allard, born in Detroit on the 26th of January 1827. His wife's name was Theresa (first name). Louis L. can be traced back to his great-great-great-great grandfather, who was James Allard. James Allard was born and lived his life in France. Francis Allard, son of James, was born in France in 1637. Francis went to Quebec, Canada. He was the first Allard in America. Getting back to Louis L. Allard, his great-granddaughter is Sister Clement. Sister Clement is at the Sacred Heart Convent in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. Sister Clement remembers when the men folk of the Allard family brought large stones from Lake St. Clair, to build the foundation of St. Paul's Church. This happened when she was a little girl. Sister Clement entered the convent at the age of sixteen. Jacques Allard had a 102.62 acre farm in Grosse Pointe, in the year 1808. In 1876 there were three more Allard farms in the Grosse Pointe area.

Next we have the monument of Michael Cadieux. In 1803, eighteen year old Michael Cadieux came to the Detroit area from France. Michael joined other Cadieux relatives who came to the New World in the 1700's. Michael Cadieux married Archang Gouin on the 10th of August 1830, in the city of Detroit. She was twenty-six years younger than Michael, and they had twelve children; seven boys and five girls. Three of the boys were Charles, Isidore and Richard. Michael Cadieux had the first U.S. Mail route from Detroit to Fort Dearborn, which was where Chicago is today. Archang (Gouin) Cadieux, wife of Michael, was born on the 18th of February, 1809 and she died on the 24th of January, 1891.

Charles Cadieux, son of Michael and Archang, was born on the 21st of April, 1831, and was married to Matilda Paye on the 17th of January, 1854. The wedding was held at St. Paul's Church in Grosse Pointe. Matilda was born in 1838 in Detroit.

Michael Rivard was born on the 17th of December, 1846, in Mt. Clemens. Michael was the son of John Baptist Rivard and Matilda Robert Jeanne. He married Virginia Godfroy, who was born on the 28th of February, 1852, in Mt. Clemens. Michael and Virginia were married in Grosse Pointe.

The first Rivard to come to this country, was Nocolas Rivard dit Lavigne, who was born in 1624 in France and was married in 1652. Francois Rivard was at Fort Pontchartrain in the year 1713. On October 30th of that year he was a witness for one of the first weddings at the Fort.

Louis Beaufait, son of Luke Beaufait was born in 1733 in France. Louis came to Detroit from France around 1761. He was married on the 22nd of January, 1767. Louis Beaufait was the first Senior Justice in Wayne Country. Louis Beaufait's youngest son was called “Colonel Beaufait.” The Colonel had a son named Louis L. Beaufait. These are the graves of Louis L. Beaufait and his wife Catherine G.

The Beaufait farm went from the west side of Mack to Lake St. Clair, with the Cook farm in the middle. Louis L. Beaufait was the first Beaufait to live and farm in the Grosse Pointe area. Joseph E. Beaufait, grandson of Louis L. Beaufait, had a farm where the Lochmoor Country Club is today. Joseph was a politician, real estate developer and city clerk in Grosse Pointe Township at the age of 21.

The second French Consul to Detroit was a French count. His name was Pierre Marie Albert DeRostang. His wife was the Countess Jacquelina Ann Marie DeRostang who was from Detroit. Countess Jacquelina, who was a sculptress, designed this beautiful monument.

The first manager of the city of Grosse Pointe was called "Mister Grosse Pointe." His name was Norbert P. Neff. Norbert was born on the 24th of May, 1895, and died on the 11th of August, 1960.

Stephen J. Belanger, who died of leukemia at the age of seven, was the son of the sexton at St. Paul's Cemetery, who is Joseph Belanger. Stephen's great-great grandfather was the first French Consul to the city of Detroit. The name Belanger can be traced back to Francis Belanger who was born in 1612 in Normandy, France. Francis married Mary Guyon in Quebec, Canada on the 12th of July 1637. Mary was born in France. It would be fair to say that most of the French people in this area came from Normandy, France.


Mr. Gorski is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, but has lived in the Detroit area for many years. The St. Paul's Cemetery Project was a tremendous task and was a success in that not only did he copy all the gravestones but he sought out many other sources to make it as complete and correct as possible. To this he had added newspaper articles on the history of the church and cemetery, pioneer's homes, obits, plus more. Included in his two-volume book are photographs of all the gravestones at St. Paul's Cemetery. These two volumes have been Xeroxed by W.M.G.S. and will be on the library shelves in the Genealogy Department of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

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