Saint Mary’s Cemetery
Saint Mary’s Cemetery is located at 233 Homeland Avenue, on the grounds of the original Saint Mary’s Church. It was established around 1850. The cemetery faces east, as is the custom of many cemeteries. All burials are with the foot of the grave toward the east and most gravestones face east. In old parish records the cemetery is termed "God's Acre", which was an old Catholic term for a cemetery. As Father Paul Meyer says, it is "...where His blessed departed ones sleep the sleep of peace until the Angel of God calls their bodies from the grave to assume the cloak of immortality."
The oldest grave marker is dated 1846, however the first recorded burial was Daniel Taylor who died at the age of 55 in 1851. Legend has it that the cemetery may have been used as early as 1700 when a flu epidemic swept through Baltimore. These victims were buried in unmarked graves covering approximately one quarter of an acre in the northeast section of the cemetery and marked by a single monument. Many of the first bodies were orphans who died of pestilence and poverty.
The Annual French Sailors Memorial Ceremony
The bodies of four French Sailors are buried at the Cemetery. The first French Reservist was Joseph Melvel of the French Ship Amarel Cicile, who drowned while swimming at Port Covington in August 1918. The other three French Reservists died of the flu in October 1918. They were Pierre Chetodel and Louis Gouger of the French Sailing ship Thiers, and Louis Brazzard of the French Sailing ship Almandral. Since there was no next of kin, the French sailors had to remain in this country and were buried by Father Hartwell. The sailors were given a military funeral courtesy of the Senior Naval Officer in charge of the port at the time.
For years the graves were personally tended by Mrs. Emily Raine Williams. In the mid-1920's Mrs. Williams approached the Baltimore Council of the American Legion who agreed to accept permanent responsibility of the care and annual memorialization of these four allies
Each year on the first Saturday in November – the French Memorial Day – the American Legion Posts #20 and #137 hold a memorial ceremony at the grave of the French Sailors. It is attended by representatives of the French Embassy as well as French Officers stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy. Not only is it is a moving tribute to our allies and but also one that recalls the many Americans buried in France that are honored also remembered annually by the French nation.
Parish Burial Records
The burial records of the parish go back to 1856. These records are available as a CD ($5) and as a hardcopy ($10) in a binder. Please contact the rectory to purchase these versions. These records and accompanying maps are cross-referenced between the Church Burial Records and Baltimore Genealogical Society tombstone readings.