Calvary Cemetery

The entrance to Calvary Cemetery (SCHS)

The entrance to Calvary Cemetery (SCHS)

Calvary Cemetery, Springfield’s Catholic cemetery, operated for almost 70 years as almost two cemeteries – one for Germans and the other for everybody else.

Calvary was founded in 1857, when two of the city’s earliest local parishes bought 16 acres of land adjoining Oak Ridge Cemetery, the brand-new municipal burying ground. The first interment at Calvary took place in 1860.

Twelve of the 16 acres were set aside for members of Immaculate Conception Parish (not to be confused with today’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception), which was heavily Irish. The other four acres were used by Ss. Peter & Paul Parish, which was predominantly German. The churches’ pastors controlled their respective portions of the burial ground.

The two sections continued to be administered separately, although both were known generically as “Calvary Cemetery,” for almost 70 years.

That changed only a few months after the Rev. James Griffin was installed as bishop of the Springfield diocese in February 1924. According to the 1928 Diamond Jubilee history of the diocese:

In April, 1924, Right Reverend Bishop James A. Griffin, D.D., called upon the Board of the German Catholic Cemetery Association, to explain to them the feasibility of combining the two associations of St. Mary (editor: Immaculate Conception Church was known colloquially as “Old St. Mary’s”) and the German Catholic Society to form one association: “Calvary Cemetery.” The union was brought about by the unanimous vote of the two Boards on July 14, 1924.

Griffin became president of the new association. The original deal provided that the the vice president had to come from Ss. Peter and Paul; that provision was dropped before St. Pete’s closed in 2001.

Calvary Cemetery, 2001 N. First St., covers about 80 acres and, as of November 2017, held about 50,000 burials.

schs-logo-2Although Calvary and Oak Ridge cemeteries have separate entrances, no fence or other barrier separates Oak Ridge from Calvary. The only way to tell where one ends and the other begins is along First Street, where the exterior fence changes at the boundary between the two cemeteries.

Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society.

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18 Responses to Calvary Cemetery

  1. Bonnie Cunningham says:

    Our family history has it that my great great grandfather, Patrick Cadagin, bought several plots to help get Calvary started. (Many of my relatives are buried there right behind Abe Lincoln’s tomb.) It is interesting that not all graves near my great great grandparents’ graves are my family members. Great great grandpa sold the extra plots to folks who needed them.

  2. Shirley Jack says:

    Where can I find information about the graves in SS Peter and Paul Cemetery? I believe my GGG Grandparents are buried there as well as 1 of their children. *Mary Annastasia (Schelble) Bruse died 11 May 1868, Fredrick Benedict Bruse died 6 Jul 1857, Frank Haverus Bruse died 27 Sep 1881, *Sophia Fredaline Bruse died 20 Sep 1868, and Friedrich Heinrich Bruse died 25 Mar 1906. The names with * are listed in the diocese records for SS Peter and Paul…

    • editor says:

      Ms. Jack: I’ve responded to you via email. Good luck.

      • Teresa Fagan says:

        Hello! According to the Roman Catholic Diocese records I found on, my great grandfather, Gottfried Hiltebrand, was buried at St. Peter & Paul (Calvary) 27 Feb 1910. I would be very grateful if you could confirm/share any information about the grave and those buried with him (or where I may inquire further). Thank you very much for your time.
        Sincerely, Teresa Fagan

        • editor says:

          Ms. Fagan: As you probably know, Mr. Hiltebrand was married to Katharine (or Catherine) Hiltebrand. I wasn’t able to find any information on her death or burial place. Your best bet now probably is to contact Calvary Cemetery directly. The phone number is (217) 523-3726. Good luck.

        • Julianne Hiltebrand Cooper says:

          Hi Teresa,
          My great grandfather is Gottfried Hiltebrand. My grandfather was Ernest Rudolph Hiltebrand born in Springfield in 1901. My father is Ernest Rene Hiltebrand born in 1937. I was born in Springfield in 1960 and we moved to the Chicago area in 1969.

          • Terry Fagan says:

            Thank you, Julianne.

            My grandmother was Mary Hiltebrand, Ernest Rudolph’s sister. Mary also had a twin sister named Gertrude. Mary married John Smith and ended up in California, I think after her daughter Maxine (my aunt) moved there. My mother was Marilyn Smith.

            Gottfried’s wife Catherine or Katherine (I think she went by “Kate”) stayed in Springfield and lived to be 88.

            I’ve built a tree on Ancestry and you’re certainly welcome to view it. I’ve found a possible set of parents for Gottfried (he was born in Switzerland) but I have been unable to verify this.

  3. Daniel Wolf says:

    My great, great grandpa Henry Wolf (born 6 Jun 1839 in Brunswick, Germany, death on 7 Jan 1931-in St. Agnes records) and his wife Mary Holin (or Holland?) Wolf (born 1 Sep 1838 in Ireland, Death on 13 Sep 1917-in St. Joseph’s records) are listed as buried in Calvary cemetery.

    I don’t know Henry’s parents names or if he had any siblings. And I don’t know Mary’s parents or if she had siblings. I only know they both supposedly came to Carlinville originally and they got married in Sangamon County on 26 Aug 1859 and they show up on the 1860 Census.

    Do you know their plot location in Calvary Cemetery or what their headstones might read?  Is it possible to get a copy of their marriage certificate? Any other suggestions for finding information on them prior to 1860?

    I would love to come visit some day. They lived over 30 years at 726 N 7th St.

    • editor says:

      Mr. Wolf: Unfortunately, I can’t help much other than to suggest a couple other sources of information (if you haven’t checked them already). If Mr. & Mrs. Wolf’s burial plots were recorded, the Calvary Cemetery office in Springfield (217-523-3726) should be able to give you the precise location(s). Meanwhile, the Sangamon County clerk’s office (217-753-6700) should have a record of their marriage. I did look at their obituaries in the online local newspapers, but both were very brief and had no information about siblings. There are more than 100 references to “Henry Wolf” in those papers; some involve other people with the same name, but many obviously relate to your great-great-grandfather. I’m not able to search through all of them, but you could search the newspaper records yourself via either of two databases: (free if your local library subscribes) or (there’s a fee for using this, but it’s small, $7-$8 a month). I didn’t see anything in a brief scan that answered your specific questions, but I might have missed something, and there might be other information of interest to you in those records.
      My last suggestion (actually, it might be smart to make this your first step) is that you contact the Sangamon Valley Collection, the local history collection, at Lincoln Library, Springfield’s municipal library (217-753-4900). They’re experts at tracing people’s ancestry.
      Sorry I can’t be more help. Good luck.
      Mike Kienzler

  4. laurie clos says:

    I’m having trouble finding specific information on a relative… Henry Kreuzkemper who was married to Elizabeth. I cannot find any death information at all. He’s not on any census. I have narrowed down the years he could have possibly died. He is listed in the City Directory in 1880. Several Directories are missing, but 1887 does not show a listing for him, but does show a listing for his wife, Elizabeth. There was one other Kreuzkemper in Springfield, but I can’t find information for them either. Any information would be so helpful!!!

    • editor says:

      Ms. Clos: I can’t help much, but from the few newspaper stories I could find about him, it looks like Henry died between 1885 and 1887. I’m sending you a private email with that information and some other possible ideas to pursue. Thanks for reading.

  5. Stephen Peifer says:

    Do you know anything about the “Brigit Roach” buried at Immaculate Conception Cathedral along with three bishops? It appears those four people are the only ones now buried there. I ask this because I am doing genealogical research on the Roach family related to my great grandmother Catherine Roach Peifer. She had a sister-in-law named Bridget Roach who died in Springfield in the 1870s, and Bridget’s two sons ended up in Nebraska under the care of their uncle. I’ve been unable to find Bridget’s death records. Her maiden name was Kinney. Native of Ireland, of course. She married Michael Roach in 1866 in Springfield, according to diocesan records. Any help will be appreciated.

    • editor says:

      Mr. Peifer: Ms. Roach’s burial at the cathedral is reported only on, and I’m not convinced that’s accurate. The burials of the three bishops, on the other hand, are well documented.
      The cathedral wasn’t built until the 1920s (it opened in 1928), so Ms. Roach’s remains, if she was your relative, would have had to have been transferred from another site. It seems much more likely to me that such remains would have been transferred instead to Calvary Cemetery, the local Catholic cemetery. If her death was after 1928, I think burial at the cathedral would have been mentioned in the local newspapers, and I find no such references.
      Findagrave’s source for the listing is a Michael Roach. It’s possible to send him a message through Findagrave for information on HIS source for the listing. The other, possibly better, alternative is to call the cathedral office; they could at least confirm if there was such a burial. The cathedral number is 217-522-3342. Good luck.

  6. Stephen Peifer says:

    Thanks for your quick and informative reply. I’ll follow up.

  7. Theo Park says:

    I recently visited Calvary, looking for the graves of my ancestors John and Catherine Haney. I was informed by the very (mean that sincerely) helpful director and her secretary that their records were lost in a fire (he died 1895, she 1903). I’m wondering whether there is a duplicate set of burial records anywhere that would help me ascertain their burial locations. Findagrave says they are there but has no lot numbers; their obituaries say they are there but of course ditto. Thanks for any help.

    • editor says:

      Mr. Park: If Calvary itself doesn’t have the information, I don’t think I can offer you much hope either. I’m sorry.
      I see that Mr. Haney was buried through the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the predominantly Irish parish, so he presumably was buried in that section of the original cemetery. That’s not much help, obviously, because that takes in 12 acres.
      All of the Springfield diocese’s historic records have been passed on to; I just took a quick look there, but saw no indication that any records related to Mr. Haney would reveal the precise grave location. You could do a more intensive search, of course, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that information in an search; just refers you to, and we already know that doesn’t help.
      Again, I’m sorry I can’t do better; if I get a different idea, I’ll post it back here.
      But maybe you could help me. … I wasn’t aware of the fire at Calvary; did the people you talked to say when that was?
      Thanks, and good luck.
      Mike Kienzler

  8. Theo Park says:

    Dear Mike,

    I’m sorry this is so late in replying. I just stumbled on this web chain today. My fault.
    The contact for Calvary Cemetery Springfield illinois is: When we visited in July they were very helpful, even bringing out old registers, but these did not cover the period I’m seeing: 1895-1903. As stated, those records were supposedly lost in a fire.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Theo Park

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