State - Detroit 1st Mich. gov. dug up from downtown park

DETROIT (AP) -- Little attention had been paid to Stevens T. Mason for decades, until last week when crews looking to relocate the first governor's remains in a downtown Detroit park initially failed to find a coffin.

But the search was short-lived and Mason's coffin was removed Thursday from the soil of Capitol Park. Encased in a concrete vault and buried about five feet down, the gray, metal casket features a plaque bearing Mason's name and date of death: January 4, 1843.

The remains will be re-interred later this summer in a more prominent spot in the park as part of a $1 million renovation project.

Adjacent to the burial plot were a pedestal and 8-foot-tall bronze statue of the man referred to as the "boy governor" because he was appointed to the post at the age of 22.

Mason was appointed acting territorial secretary at age 19. He became acting territorial governor three years later in 1834. To be considered for statehood, Michigan needed a census taken. Mason authorized one and convened a constitutional convention, which was approved by state voters. In 1835, they elected him governor.

Mason was re-elected in 1837, served two more years and eventually left the state to practice law in New York. He died there in 1843 and was buried.

His remains were returned to Detroit in 1905 and buried in Capitol Park. He was re-interred in the 1950s in the same metal coffin removed Thursday. The funeral home expects to complete an examination on the casket and remains by next week.

Published: Tue, Jul 6, 2010


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