Today’s video is a partial walk/visit to Burlington, Vermont’s OLDEST CATHOLIC CEMETERY: Mount Saint Joseph on Archibald Street.
“As the Catholics came to our part of the Champlain Valley to settle, there came an early need for a sacred burial ground. A final resting place was needed for their aged, their infants and young as well as adults taken back to the Lord in their prime. In the previous historical writings about the Catholic Church in our area, very little has been mentioned about the church cemeteries. It is a subject upon which few people care to dwell but yet death is a natural progression of life and a certain reality.
In Burlington from 1763 when it was chartered as a town, the public burial ground was two acres on Colchester Avenue, now part of GreenMountain Cemetery. The crowded condition and irregular plan of this original cemetery occasioned the establishment of a second cemetery. It was called Elmwood and had been used from 1794 – but not laid out in an organized plan until 1813. A listing of the monuments in the latter made in 1942 does not reveal any obvious “Catholic” families.
The oldest Catholic cemetery is Mount St. Joseph, which is situated on the north side of Archibald Street and extends from Prospect Street on the east to North Willard Street on the west. The original land was obtained from Col. Archibald Hyde in November 1830 and was for a few years the site of the first Catholic chapel in Burlington. Adjoining lots were secured which enlarged the original lot to its present size of about five acres. The lower tip of this property was deeded to the City of Burlington in 1893 to extendWillard Street beyond Archibald St. throucrh to the Lower Road (Riverside Avenue). Previous to 1850 there was no record kept of burials in Mount St. Joseph Cemetery. Since this was the only cemetery for all Catholics in the greater Burlington area, it is estimated that during the period of 1831 to 1856 there were at least 5,000 burials. This number increased another 4,162 from 1856 to 1904.
The St. Joseph parish burial records beginning in 1850 show the burial on December 3rd of Rosalie, the daughter of Francois Xavier and Zoe (Suprenant) Robert, who died at the age of one year and ten months. During the year 1855, the cemetery was enclosed anew. The Canadian congregation contributed $334.73 for the entire south part where there was the main gate as well as the smaller gate next to their first St. Joseph’s Church. The other part of the fence on the north east was the charge of the Irish congregation and cost them the sum of $181.00. On November 2nd of that year, the two congregations were gathered together with His Excellency, the Bishop of Burlington, assisted by his priests and Oblate Fathers from St. Joseph to solemnly bless the cemetery which was intended for the burial of both the Irish and Canadian Catholics of Burlington. The west part of this land was not blessed, with the northernmost part of this section fronting on the main road being reserved by the Bishop for the burial of infants dying without baptism and other persons who for grave reasons would be excluded from the cemetery proper.
A few days later, the Bishop held a meeting at which tentative regulations were discussed for the future use of the cemetery. In summary, a priest was to designate the gravesite instead of random choice of the parishioners as heretofore. Those who already had enclosed family lots would be permitted to continue to use them in the future. When a member of a new family not already having a lot died, they could enclose a new gravesite with room for two other graves. The enclosure was to be done immediately, however, so that the next burial would be in regular order. Strangers and those who would not need a family lot would be buried at the new part of the cemetery which would be marked off with stakes.
Even though the French Catholics continued their separate worship in their church in their mother tongue, their burials continued in the one Catholic cemetery, Mt. Saint Joseph, until 1878…”-https://stjoseph.vermontcatholic.org/history-of-our-cemeteries