Friday, March 31, 2017

Diggs Dug Eloise Graves

Detroit Free Press, October 15, 1941
The House of Diggs could be said to have encompassed two entirely different worlds in the Charles Diggs family. One in politics and another in mortuary science.

Charles Diggs, Sr. ran a successful Detroit funeral home for years before becoming the first African American to win a seat in the Michigan Senate. His son Charles Diggs, Jr., the heir of the empire, would also become involved in politics, becoming the first African American from Michigan to serve in the United States Congress. Both men ran afoul of the law late in their political careers but that is a topic for another blog.

Our concern is the Diggs monopoly of Eloise pauper burials. From at least 1938 to 1941 Diggs handled all indigent undertaking for the facility. This Free Press expose coupled with a garnishment request from a casket provider charging Diggs with non-payment for services led to a state inquiry into the matter. A ruling in Diggs's favor stated that the County had a right to deal with whomever it chose. Maybe the House of Diggs has some of the burial records for the Eloise cemetery.

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