35448 Michigan Avenue
(north side of road just west of State Wayne Theater
The Old Wayne Cemetery is located on Michigan Avenue next to the State Wayne Theater in the city of Wayne, MI. The cemetery, which is one and half acres in size, is home to mostly burials mostly from the 1800s. The first burial was in 1834 when Sally Derby passed away. At that time, the land was owned by the Ezra Derby family. The last burial took place in 1916 when John Frank was laid to rest with his parents and brother. The cemetery was officially closed July 9, 1918 by the city council. In 1971 the fences were repainted and the brick pillars facing south to Michigan Avenue were erected before the dedication of the Michigan Historical Marker which stands guard over the cemetery today.
Ezra and Sally Derby (maiden name Sally Rugg Blasdell) were married in 1826 and settled into what is know Wayne, MI from Massachusetts. They purchased the land from orphans of George Simmons. George Simmons ran the tavern and drank heavily. He killed his wife while in a drunken rage and was the first and only man to ever be sentenced to the death penalty by hanging in the State of Michigan.Ezra Derby is credited with much of the early development of the city of Wayne. He started a saw mill and blacksmith shop and was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1834. When his wife Sally passed away in 1834, he donated the burial plot to the community to preserve his wife’s resting place and for future burial needs.
Ezra Derby married four more times. His second wife was Harriet Hawley Collins who was a widow with two sons, Ira and Giles. His third wife, Hannah Smith, was a widow who resided two households away from the Derby family in 1850. Ezra and Sally had a son Henry Derby Ezra Derby died in 1877 at the age of 74 and was buried with his first three wives and all their children in the cemetery.
In the photos on this site are Chauncey Knickerbocker, buried with his wife Irene, who was the Universalist minister for the town for many years. After his passing in 1884 from heart disease, a simple but poignant memorial of "Clergyman & Patriot" was placed on his marker. Thomas Shaftoe was also buried with his spouse, Phoebe. Thomas served the community as a Baptist minister in the late 1880s and early 1890s.
Source: "A Guide to Old Wayne Cemetery", City of Wayne (brochure)