Each Catholic church in the near vicinity of the City of Winona had their own cemetery and their own cemetery records. Each Catholic church in Winona served a specific nationality. For example, St. Stanlislaus was the Polish church, St. John's was the German church, St. Casimir's was the Irish church, etc. Each church had a "section" of what is now St. Mary's Cemetery. It's very apparent when you walk the cemetery by the last names which section began as which. When one parish, however, could not give the service due to abscence of the priest (illness, vacation) or if that parish already had another service scheduled for the same day, the confusion began. Example: Mr. Callahan belonged to the "Irish" church of St. Casimir's. However, the priest of St. Casimir's was ill and could not hold the funeral. Therefore, Mr. Callahan's funeral was held at St. John's Church (as this was the church assigned to cover for St. Casimir's and vise-vera.) Mr. Callahan would then have been buried in the "German" section of the cemetery and his internment would be recorded in St. John's records. Because the individual churches had their own recordkeeping practices, there was no central "map" of the cemetery and gravediggers occasionally would be directed to dig a grave where someone else was already interred. It was decided, therefore, that all records should be kept in a central location and so began what now is called "St. Mary's Cemetery".
NOTE: St. Mary's does not know how many people are buried within their grounds. It is guessed to be around 100,000. Not all graves are/were marked with a tombstone and some tombstones have either weathered away (like the old wooden crosses), been broken and either not repaired or were damaged beyond repair, have sunk into the ground so far that they have all but "disappeared" or otherwise been lost, stolen or removed over the years. A very, very general map of the cemetery is simply a drawing on a sheet of regular paper only showing the roads. There is no mapping of the individual plots, lots, etc., so locating a grave for a photo request is nearly impossible!
(text by C. Kay)
GPS Coordinates: 44.0208, -91.6181
- Added: 2 Jan 2000
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #83412
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