Marquette’s Catholic Cemeteries

Sign that today marks the Old Catholic Cemetery

Sign that today marks the Old Catholic Cemetery on Pioneer Road

The following passage is from My Marquette

Across the street from the former Brookridge Estate, on the corner of County Road 553 and Pioneer Road, is a patch of woods where once the Old Catholic Cemetery existed. It became the burial place for Marquette’s Catholics in 1861. Prior to that, Catholics had been buried on the property where the cathedral now stands. The new cemetery would within fifty years become the Old Catholic Cemetery. By the early 1900s, the new Holy Cross Cemetery off Wright Street opened, and between 1912 and 1925, some 165 Catholics’ remains were transferred from the old cemetery to the new one, although not all the bodies were removed.

While I do not know for certain where they rest, my best guess is that my great-great-grandparents, John Buschell, his wife Elizabeth, and maybe her second husband Jeremiah O’Leary are all buried in the Old Catholic Cemetery.

Today, the forest has reclaimed the old cemetery property off Pioneer Road. Gradually, while some of the bodies were left behind, all the gravestones were removed—some for a time in the 1980s I remember being in the front yard of the John Burt Pioneer home when it was still a museum, but eventually all the stones that remained intact were transferred to Holy Cross Cemetery where they lie in the grass, most of them scarcely readable.

Today, all Catholics are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Marquette. In the cemetery’s early years, Catholics were strict that only Catholics could be buried there. As a result, my great-grandmother, Lily Buschell Molby, lies in Holy Cross while her husband, John Molby, not being Catholic, is buried in Park Cemetery, which accepted all denominations.

Pioneer Cemetery Gravestones now in Holy Cross Cemetery

By the 1980s, burial laws were less strict. John and Lily’s daughter, my grandmother, Grace Molby White, also married outside the Catholic Church, but she wanted to be buried in the Catholic cemetery, so my grandpa, raised a Baptist, also agreed to be buried there. Today my grandparents rest in Holy Cross Cemetery with my grandma’s family while my grandpa’s family rests in Park Cemetery.

A few years after my grandparents passed away, my parents bought plots near them in Holy Cross Cemetery, including plots for my brother and me. At the time, I wasn’t too crazy about having a grave plot waiting for me when I was only thirty years old, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead.

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2 Comments on “Marquette’s Catholic Cemeteries”

  1. Mike Erickson Says:

    Well Tyler I just spent several very enjoyable days reading just about every one of your blogs and it is now on my favorites list at home and at work. many of my co-workers have learned to leave me alone at lunch time. As I take a trip back in time and place, it is a welcome escape from the work day.

    Its been several years since we have gotten togeather and I hope we can connect the next time we get back to Marquette.

    Keep up the good work and GREAT stories…

    Mike


    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for being such a faithful and enthusiastic reader. I’d be happy to get together next time you’re in Marquette. You’ll have to see the new history museum when you’re here which is fantastic. I just got home from my trip to Turkey – photos on Facebook – another amazing historic place.

      Best wishes,

      Tyler


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