|Saint Marys Cemetery|
Also known as: Dunkirk Cemetery, German Burying Ground, Old German Cemetery, Potter's Field
|10880 Bennett Road (Route 60)|
New York USA
Postal Code: 14048
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
In 1850, the fledgling St. Mary’s church in Dunkirk acquired the land for a cemetery and the first burial took place in August, 1851. At about the same time, the village of Dunkirk appropriated $235 for the Dunkirk Cemetery, but it is not clear whether this was to purchase the land for a cemetery or maintain what was already there. The old Town of Dunkirk Cemetery is located in the Northwest corner of St. Mary’s Cemetery (along Bennett Road, toward the city limits) and was also known as Dunkirk Cemetery, German Burying Ground, Old German Cemetery and Potter’s Field. It was used primarily by the members of the various German evangelical churches (i.e. German Protestants) in Dunkirk. By 1900, several graves had been removed to new family plots in Forest Hill Cemetery in Fredonia and these are so noted in online Forest Hill records. In July, 1969, the Dunkirk Town board officially sold the Dunkirk Cemetery to the adjacent St. Mary’s Cemetery for $1.00.
Prior to 1903, St. Mary’s Cemetery was the only consecrated ground for Roman Catholic burials in northern Chautauqua County, New York. In Dunkirk, the first burial at St. Hyacinth’s Cemetery (Polish) was in 1903, St. Hedwig’s Cemetery (also Polish) in 1913, and Holy Trinity Cemetery (Italians) in 1914. The Sicilians in Fredonia established St. Anthony church in 1907 and its cemetery by 1908.
St. Mary’s Cemetery continued to be used primarily by the families of St. Mary’s church (Irish) and Sacred Heart Church, which was established by St. Mary’s German families in 1858 and originally dedicated to St. George. A new building was completed in 1876 and dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1975, St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart parishes were combined into the new St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish but the cemetery name remained the same.
Note: St. Joseph Cemetery is a private cemetery in Sheridan and not associated with St. Joseph church in Fredonia; there was an Old Catholic Cemetery in Westfield, the earliest legible inscription from 1886 but church records indicate that several families preferred to be buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery as early as 1860 and those buried in Westfield had their individual plots blessed by the priest; St. James Cemetery in Westfield was established in 1940; Mount Carmel Cemetery in Silver Creek/Hanover in 1913; there was never a separate cemetery for St. Patrick’s church in Brocton/Portland, St. Rose of Lima in Forestville, nor St. Dominic’s in Westfield.
This brief history is provided thanks to the research of Lois and Norwood Barris and to assist those encountering the various church names in their research.