Saint Johns Cemetery
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Saint Johns Cemetery

Bellefonte, Centre County , Pennsylvania, USA


  • Get directions Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Cemetery ID: 46062

Several Members of the Roman Catholic Church were among the early residents of Bellefonte. As with all the religious denominations in Bellefonte's history, there was no organized congregation nor any resident clergy for a period of several years. Itinerant priests served the spiritual needs of the faithful until 1824, when Bellefonte was added to the missionary travels of Fr Thomas Heydon from Bedford. Mass was said in the home of William Welch on High Street. In 1828, Fr. O'Reilly was appointed regular pastor at Bellefonte, as well as the St Francis of Assisi Church in Clearfield and Most Holy Trinity Church in Huntingdon.

Property on East Bishop Street Lot 87 on the plan of Bellefonte, the site of the current St John's Catholic School was purchased and construction began on a church building, which was completed in 1831. The earliest pastors lived in the sacristy of the church during their stays in Bellefonte, as there was no rectory. Fr Flanagan was the first resident pastor, arriving in December 1858.

The first parish record books begin in 1837, with respect to baptisms and marriages, and in 1858 for burials.

When the original church was built on East Bishop Street, the remainder of the lot was reserved for use as a parish cemetery. It was used for burials through the early 1870s.

With Bellefonte continuing to expand, and with the old cemetery becoming full of graves, plans were made for a new Catholic cemetery. The property was purchased on what is now the corner of Shope and East streets and the cemetery was laid out.

The new cemetery was dedicated in August of 1871. Tickets could be purchased for 25 cents and Bishop Shanahan of Harrisburg was to speak. He never arrived but the dedication went on without him. There was a parade with a cross and banners, an American Flag, the congregation, and the St Patrick's Temperance Society. People flocked to the parade out of curiosity and the assemblage grew to 500-600 people.

After the new cemetery was opened, some relatives and friends had bodies of their loved ones removed to the new grounds. In doing so, they often erected new headstones, and the old ones were sometimes used for stepping stones in the neighborhood. Some of these have been found in Bellefonte homes in recent years, in very good condition as they had been kept out of the elements.

Thus by 1889 all reminds were definitely removed from the old parish cemetery to the new site on Bishop Street. That cemetery is in use at the present day, and it has expanded from its original 5 acres.

The cemetery has been beautified and improved over the years. There has been a large granite status of Christ on the cross (1900) and later a statue of Christ, the Good Shepherd.

In addition to the regular lots, space was reserved along the cemetery fence for burial of infants and those who could not afford plots. Very few of those graves are marked. There was also a special place designated for the burial of priests and at present there are four of them.

Directions to the cemetery: Facing the Bellefonte Court House at the corner of Allegheny and High Streets, go right on Allegheny Street for 1 block turn left on to Bishop St. go roughly 0.4 miles. The main entrance to the cemetery will be on your right. [ N 40 54.733' W 77 46.196']

Source: The Cemeteries of Bellefonte, Centre County, PA printed in 2010 by the CCGS. pages 210-212.



  • Added: 1 Jan 2000
  • Find a Grave Cemetery ID: 46062