St. Andrew’s Cemetery
A short History
From “St. Andrew’s Cemetery in History by Rev. John W. Magee
St. Andrew’s Cemetery on Madison Avenue and Prince Street is one of the oldest places in our community. It was established in 1853 through the work of Father DeCeunick. Mr. William Howard donated the ten acre plot of land for a much needed “Catholic Cemetery”. Some of the earliest French-Canadian pioneers in this region are buried at St. Andrew’s Cemetery. You can find many members of the Campau family buried there.
The graves of many other immigrants from Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland can be found here. In the center of the cemetery is buried Father Andreas Viszoczky after whom the cemetery is named. His grave is marked by a tall granite shaft. Nearby lie many other of the priests. The chapel-mausoleum near the center of the cemetery was erected there in 1887 in memory of Father Patrick Joseph McManus, builder of the present St. Andrew’s. He died at the early age of forty-five and was well loved by the community. One of the most impressive vaults is the “Clancy Vault”. Within is buried John Clancy, Grand Rapids’ first Catholic philanthropist and the founder of St. John’s Home. This is an historic site. Here history is written in granite. Here are our forebears, the pioneers who labored for us, the immigrants who braved he coffin ships of the Famine days. May we never forget them.
Grand Rapids’ first Catholic cemetery was purchased by Father Andreas Viszosky, the city’s first pastor, at the triangle of Lake, Diamond, and Cherry streets on the southeast side of the city. It was reportedly blessed by Bishop Lefevre in the 1840’s. In 1852, ten acres of land were purchased from the William Howard family and became Saint Andrew Cemetery, named after Father Viszosky. Some burials there predate the 1852 consecration of the land, though it is not known if those individuals were originally buried on the Howard farm, or if they were removed from the Catholic ‘triangle’ cemetery. The oldest known burial is that of Victoria S. Campau, who died March 30, 1839 at only 17 days old.
The cemetery holds the remains of many pioneers and philanthropists of our area: Louis Campau and family, John Clancy, the O’Brien family (first undertakers of the area), Theodore Kortlander, a 16 grave plot of the nuns of the order of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and many more. While it has a variety of nationalities within, those buried there were predominantly Irish.
There are approximately 9,500 known burials and two mausoleums at Saint Andrew Cemetery. On the southeastern quadrant, there was a mausoleum for the Clancy family which was erected by the brother in law of John Clancy who died in 1884. The cost of the family vault was $7,500, primarily due to the solid granite it is made out of and the Gothic design. The other one is that of Father Patrick McManus, beloved pastor of St. Andrew Catholic Church, who died in 1885. It was built by “The Friends of Father P.J. McManus,” and while it appears to hold only the corpse of Father McManus, news articles state that the body of his sister, Ellen, is also interred within.