A Reading of Calvary Cemetery
Calvary Cemetery is an active Roman Catholic cemetery located on West German Street about one half mile west of the Village of Herkimer, Herkimer County, New York. It adjoins, on its eastern side, separated by a narrow gravel road, Oak Hill Cemetery that is owned by the Village of Herkimer. Calvary is owned by Saint Francis de Sales Church, located in Herkimer, NY.
This reading was done in May through early August of 2001 and consists of more than 5100 names. Many of the burials are Italian and Polish immigrants who came to the Mohawk Valley in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The earlier burials are familiar names from the early history of the area. There are, what appear to be, many unmarked graves and many graves marked only with a rudimentary concrete cross.
This is probably indicative of the poor financial status of most first generation immigrants. There are also about fifty stones that are unreadable at this time. Records of early burials are missing and/or spotty, usually containing the name of the plot owner but not of the persons actually buried there, so this reading may well be the best source currently available.
This reading is divided into 6 parts, each of the first 5 representing a section of the cemetery and can be roughly defined as follows:
* Part 1 is located on the east side of the cemetery between the paved road and the gravel road that separates Calvary from Oak Hill Cemetery and runs the entire length from the main road (German St.) to the wooded area at the back. The Manion Family mausoleum identifies this section. It's in this section that two graves are located down a bank in the woods at the back of the cemetery.
* Part 2 starts at the rear of the cemetery, between the two paved roads that run from front to back, and ends at the second cross road.
* Part 3 starts at this second cross road and runs forward to a point approximately half way to the main road (German St.). This ending point can be located by the presence of two large cedar trees growing very close together.
* Part 4 starts at these two cedar trees and runs to the very front of the cemetery. The Donato family mausoleum and three above ground crypts identify this section.
* Part 5 consists of all the area on the west side of the cemetery and contains many stones that are flush with the ground.
* Part 6 will be a periodic update of new burials, noting in which section these occurred. It's my hope to be able to monitor the cemetery since I live nearby. This section will also contain any additional information I find on the older burials - for instance, if someone can identify a stone that is now unreadable or an unmarked grave, that information will appear here.
In the process of this reading I've made some assumptions which may or may not be true. (1) In cases where a man and woman share the same gravestone, I've assumed they are husband and wife even if the stone does not identify them as such. (2) Where a stone contains a birth date but no death date, I assumed a burial might exist there if the birth date would make the person in excess of one hundred years old. However, it's possible that there was a remarriage or the person was buried somewhere else. If the person's age would be less than one hundred years, I've assumed that the person may still be alive and haven't listed that name in this reading. Again, there is the possibility of remarriage and burial elsewhere. (3) If a child's grave is located next to the graves of a husband and wife of the same name I've assumed the child is theirs if the child's birth date falls within the the normal reproductive years of the adults (i.e. 20-40 yrs. old). In these cases I've noted that the child is possibly "the child of..."
My purpose in doing this reading was to provide some helpful information about the great number of people who immigrated to our area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Much has been researched and written about the Palatine and other early settlers of the area but nearly nothing exists about the later waves of immigrants, mostly from eastern and southern Europe, and their influence on the culture of the Mohawk Valley. I hope this helps in some small way.
Copyright © 2001 - 2009 Steven Knight
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