St. Augustine Cemetery (Bridgeport CT)
Available information for St. Augustine Cemetery:
List of People Interred at St. Augustine Cemetery (constantly updated)
Veteran Burials in St. Augustine Cemetery
1891 Newspaper Reports of Vandalism at St. Augustine Cemetery
Aerial Photos & Historical Maps of St. Augustine Cemetery
Photographs from St. Augustine Cemetery (Oct/Nov 2007)
More Photographs from St. Augustine Cemetery (Oct/Nov 2007)
Day of Remembrance (Nov. 3, 2007)
Proper Techniques for Cleaning Headstones (Video - National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of Interior)
Saint Augustine Cemetery is located on the east side of Bridgeport, Connecticut at the northeast corner of Helen and Arctic Streets. It is reported to be the first Roman Catholic cemetery in Fairfield County CT and among the oldest Catholic cemeteries in the Bridgeport Diocese. Consistent with the ethnic makeup of greater Bridgeport in the mid-to-late 1800s, the cemetery is largely Irish, although there are also Polish, Czech, Italian, Russian, Hispanic, and other ethnicities represented. It is estimated that more than 1,000 individuals are buried at St. Augustine Cemetery, quite possibly twice that number. The cemetery was once on the banks of Pembroke Lake and is clearly marked on an 1867 map of Bridgeport, but that picturesque view has long-since vanished. Unfortunately, for many, the site has long been unknown or forgotten as entire generations of early Bridgeport families have either died or moved away from city.
On Sunday, 7 October 2007, an article in the Connecticut Post newspaper reported on the conditions at St. Augustine Cemetery — a nearly 6-acre site that has long been a playground and dumping ground for some residents of the city. In fact, evidence of vandalism and improper activities on the cemetery grounds date back more than 115 years! Following the original article, there have been numerous follow-up articles and letters to the editor, including one from the Diocese of Bridgeport. Many questions have been raised by this discussion — Should the Diocese be caretaker for century-old stones? Should volunteer groups be prohibited from 'adopting' the role? Can a chain-link fence deter those intent on causing damage? To this writer, the details aren't important — there are valid points on all sides of the issue, but one point remains...too much talk, not enough action. Now is not the time to look backwards, we must acknowledge the current situation and move forward in a cooperative, productive manner.
There are at least 12 Lynch family members buried in St. Augustine Cemetery. Others buried at this site had the surnames Phelan, O'Rourke, McElligott, Cleary, and McCarthy — surnames which I have been researching in Connecticut for more than two decades. The recent controversy over St. Augustine Cemetery has served a valuable purpose in that many local families (myself included) had no knowledge this cemetery existed. Thanks in large part to Connecticut Post photographer Phil Noel, hundreds of individuals will once again be remembered. Once again have their name spoken. Once again have their final place of rest visited and personally tended to. Thank you Phil!
Technology unimaginable when St. Augustine Cemetery opened can now be put to use in documenting, preserving, and communicating the details of those interred within. This is family history, but it is also local history — both are important. In the coming months, a coordinated effort will be undertaken to more fully document the lives of those buried in St. Augustine Cemetery. Using the great resources available through the Bridgeport Public Library (Genealogy & History room) and the expertise of Mary Witkowski and her staff, it will be interesting as volunteers help us to record details for each of these individuals. Stay tuned for more detail.
Monuments in the photo above show:
A — William St. Ledger, died 19 Feb 1864, age 46
B — Capt. Edward Goodwin, died 16 Dec 1880, age 57 (Civil War Veteran, Co. E, 4th Regt., C.N.G.)
+ Catherine J. Goodwin, died 1918
+ Evelyn Goodwin, died 1935
C — Hannah Stokes, wife of Michael Powers, died 19 June 1881, age 38
+ Katie E. Stokes, daughter of John & Catharine, died 1880, age 16
D — Peter Lynch, died 21 April 1881, age 54
+ Mary Lynch, wife of Peter, died 1879, age 48
+ Thomas J. Lynch, died 23 August 1915, age 55
+ Catherine E. Lynch, wife of Thomas J., died 1897, age 30
+ John Lynch, died 6 May 1818, age 58 (born about 1760)
+ James Daly, died 22 September 1896, age 42
+ Mary A. Daly, wife of James, died 7 February 1936, age 79
E — Andrew Burns, died 12 August 1900
+ Mary Burns, wife of Andrew, died 20 June 1877, age 57
+ Bridget Burns, wife of Andrew, died 23 June 1909