The acquisition of St. Mary’s cemetery is part of the early history of Holy Name Parish. The first church was built in 1878. The parish was served by priests from Wichita until 1880 when father Gregory W. Kelly came as the first resident pastor. According to notes on the history of the parish, he built a rectory, started a school in the school and “another provision of his was the located St. Mary’s cemetery.”
The deed for the cemetery could not be found in the office of the Register of Deeds, but in the book of Plats in the same office on the page showing the cemetery plat was a handwritten note that the transaction was recorded March 1, 1883 at 11:40 a.m. it was signed by Jacob Nixon, Register of deeds.
A “well located” cemetery in the 1880’s probably referred to its’ proximity referred to the church and was an important consideration when most transportation was by horse drawn vehicles. It may also been a factor in its’ maintenance.
As Winfield grew, the five acre cemetery became part of the cities residential area. In 1941, the city offered to take over the maintenance and care of the cemetery if given possession of it. The record of this transfer, Deed Record No. 175, dated March 15, 1941, may be found in the Register of Deeds office. It is signed by C.H. Winklemann as Bishop of Wichita of the Roman Catholic Church. One of the early interments was that of Father M.C. Duggan who died in August 1886. “His remains rest at the foot of the Cross alongside those of father Dawling as the Englishman who spent his declining days at St. Mary’s Hospital.” The other two graves at the foot of the Cross are those of father Austin Hull, Pastor of Holy Name from 1913 to 1945, and of Father Matthew Wise who died in 1956 while serving as Chaplain of St. Mary’s Hospital.
Little is known about the other early interments except for the information found on the markers in the cemetery.
Rather extensive vandalism was done in the cemetery in October 1987. very soon, the Knight of Columbus of Holy Name Parish sponsored a clean-up day. A number of men responded and spent a day uprighting, cleaning, straightening, and resetting many of the markers and monuments. On Memorial Day many visitors come from distances to pay respect to their dead. Veterans are given recognition with small flag markers. Many other graves are visited by family, friends, and decorated with plants and floral pieces. There are some who are not visited or remembered in any way. However, all are remembered in a Memorial Mass celebrated in the cemetery if the weather permits. NOTE: Quotes are from notebook kept by Father Austin Hull, Pastor of Holy Name from 1913-1946.
Submitted by Lucille Groene
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