Latitude / Longitude:
1,201 ft (366 m)
Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
Pere Cheney, also called Cheney and Center Plains, was a village located in Crawford, Michigan in the late 19th century. It is located in Beaver Creek Township and was once a small lumbering town. Pere Cheney was the first community in Crawford, Michigan and was established by lumberjacks who trailed the Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw Railroad north headed for Mackinaw City. Established in 1874 around the sawmill of George M. Cheney, it served as the temporary seat when Crawford was officially organized in 1879, though it soon lost this distinction to the more heavily populated town of Grayling. It had a station on the Michigan Central Railroad called the Cheney depot, and a post office. The post office closed in 1912, and the village was abandoned in the early Twentieth century. It has since taken on the reputation of a ghost town.
Pere Cheney was established in 1873, as founder George Cheney received a land grant from the Michigan Central Railroad company to establish a stop along the railroad. A general store was established along with sawmills, carpenters, a doctor, hotel with a telegraph service and a post office. In the mid-1870s, the population was approximately 1,500 people. In 1893, diphtheria spread through the town, wiping out a great deal of the town’s population. Diphtheria recurred in 1897, by 1901 the town’s population fell to only 25 people and in 1917 there were only 18 people left in this once booming town. At that time, the land was sold off in a public auction and the town was declared a ghost town.
If you were to visit Pere Cheney now it is quite difficult to find the cemetery. It is in the middle of the woods on a two track road, so unless you have a truck or bigger car it is difficult to reach without getting stuck. In March 2015, it was announced that there is plans to restore the cemetery to its former glory.[dead link] To this day, Pere Cheney remains Number 2 on the Top 10 Witch Graves in the Midwest, topped only by Bloody Mary of Indiana.
The cemetery is owned by Beaver Creek Township, Michigan and is maintained by the township.