ST. VINCENT'S CHURCH

 

History of the Saint Vincentís Old Cemetery

 

Document prepared by the St. Vincentís Knights of Columbus Council #11353.

James M. Cox, Trustee

 

In 1995, to commemorate the sesquicentennial celebration of Saint Vincentís parish, the Knights of Columbus Council 11353, with the prompting and encouragement of Father Marty Hunkler, accepted the task of repair and refurbishing the old St. Vincentís cemetery, located at the northwest corner of Wallen and Auburn Roads.   Upon attempting to find a record of the cemetery burial plots, it was discovered that no permanent plotplan of the burial locations in the cemetery existed.   The first part of the project, therefore, was to make a map of the cemetery, since no permanent plotplan had ever been prepared or preserved.   With the help of Mary Berkshire and Mickey McLain of the parish office, the scattered and scarce records of the old cemetery were gathered.   I also went to the Fort Wayne Catholic Diocese office and studied the abstracts and records of St. Vincentís church for any other information.   In the process of collecting historical facts about the St. Vincentís cemetery, many people furnished additional information which resulted in a very interesting project and hopefully a complete document on the history of the original St. Vincentís church cemetery. 

 

The only plot plan found in the church office was for the west end of the old cemetery, with none for the area north of the old church.   Therefore creation of the plot plan was made by drawing the existing gravesight locations as close to scale as possible.   A total of 422 gravesights were found, the earliest burial date being 1845 with the grave of FREDERICK B. CLAUSMEIER and most recent that of ALFRED J. SORDELET in 1990.   It is a strong coincidence that the first burial of 1845 of infant Clausmeier was 150 years before the sesquicentennial celebration of St. Vincent church. 

 

A first draft of the cemetery was prepared from the records available and by drawing a map of the headstones present in the cemetery.   This first draft was then displayed after mass to the parishioners, who were asked to correct, add, or update the information.   From this corrected draft, the final plotplan of the cemetery was prepared.   A permanent recording of the plotplan of the graveyard has been made for future use and information and will be available at the church office or the Knights of Columbus Council, 11353 at St. Vincentís church. 

 

Family names noted by several family members buried in the old cemetery were SCHRADER, MARTIN, PEPE, BAILEY, TILL, FITZGERALD, BOBAY, MASON, JUIF, SHULER, ROY, GUIFF, PICHON, WHITE, URBINE, FAULKNER, BADIAC, PION, MOMMER, ODDOU, SORDELET, DELEGRANGE, BERCOT, HUGUENARD, CLAUSMEIER, DIEBOLD, PEQUIGNOT, and BRAHIER. 

 

Two lists are included in this article.   First is a list of those buried in the old St. Vincentís cemetery and the number of the person can be matched to the plotplan for the location of the gravesight.

 

Second is a list of the persons who died and received the sacraments from St. Vincentís priests.   These names are taken from church records, which were hand written by the officiating priests, and represent names of persons whose deaths were recorded.  However, they may or may not be buried in the old St. Vincentís cemetery.   There may be death records of persons recorded in the St. Vincentís church records who either are not buried in the old cemetery, or were buried in the old cemetery but the headstones lost.  

 

Headstones were found standing against a tree in the cemetery, and no site of the burial plot could be ascertained.   The names on the stones were: JULIAN PICHON, died at 3 months in 1851, and POLINE BOBAY, died 1868.

 

Also reported were burial sites for ROSEMARY PULVER who died in 1930 and infant JOHN PULVER who died in 1933.   No headstones were found for these infants but they were reported to be buried at the north end of the cemetery near Auburn Road. 

 

In constructing the history of the cemetery, I was told repeatedly of a mass burial plot containing several infants but I was never able to  ascertain where it was located.   Also, rumors of indiscriminate burials during the plague of 1918 were reported but no specifics could be concluded on this matter.

 

Priests who officiated from the burial records of the church were:

            J. ROCHE, C.S.C. in 1878

            J. FRERE, C.S.C.  in 1859 to 1878

            W. DEMERS in 1872 and 1873

            MAUJAY in 1874 to 1876

            J. M. TOOHEY, C.S.C.  in 1891 to 1895

            J. E. ST. ARMAND, C.S.C. in 1896

            A. E. LAFONTAINE in 1897 to 1900

            M. P. LOUEN in 1901 to 1906

            AMBROSE R. DOWD, C.P.P.S. from 1907 to 1908

            SEBASTIAN KREMER, C.P.P.S. in 1908

            JOSEPH A. LYNN in 1908 to 1914

            J. AHYMER from 1914 to 1919

            REV. ROBERT J. HALPIN from 1919 to 1921

            E. VURPILLAT from 1922 to 1926

 

The priests often would record the cause of death, some of which were brain fever, consumption, born weak, fever, child birth, and pleurisy.

 

Remarks about the person were sometimes written, such as ďdied a good deathĒ, and ďexcellent young manĒ.

 

CECIL BADIAC tells the story of her First Holy Communion walk from the Sacred Heart Academy to the old church, accompanied by such classmates as BARNEY BOBAY, BILL MARTIN, GEORGE MARTIN, CRYSTAL SORDELET, and the PEQUINOT BOYS.   Her father, ALBERT SHULER, raised Cecil and her 3 brothers alone following the death of Albertís wife, RINDA, when Cecil was five years old.   Cecil tells the fascinating story of the horse drawn burial carriage carrying her mother to her rest in the old cemetery.  

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE ORIGINAL CHURCH AND CEMETERY SITE

 

The actual description of the northwest corner of Auburn and Wallen Roads, the location of the original church and cemetery, was described first on April 18, 1863, at the request of REVERAND J. BENOIT as the southeast corner of Section 1-31-12A.

 

ISIDORE PICHON donated the land for the first church and cemetery. 

 

ISIDORE PICHON was born November 2, 1779 in Faimbe, France, which was a small village near the larger town of Besancon, the son of CLAUDE FRANCOIS PICHON and JEANNE URSULE JEANNOT.   He married EVE BAUMESTRE on March 2, 1810 and they had 6 children, all of whom were born in France.   Eve died in France on June 9, 1824.   ISIDORE PICHON came to America in 1834, arriving on the 16th day of April in New York City from Havre de Grace, France from where they left on March 16, 1834.   The ship on which they sailed was the ďNormandieĒ out of New York under the command of Master William W. Pell.   With Isidore on the trip to America were his 3 sons, CLAUDE ALEXANDER, CLAUDE FRANCOIS, and FRANCIS, 2 daughters, JEANNE URSULE (later married with name APPOLINA) and ANN FRANCES JOSEPHINE, and a female named MARIE.

 

After arriving in New York, it is determined that Isidore and his family traveled to Albany and to have taken the Erie Canal from there to Buffalo.   From there a boat would be taken on Lake Erie to the Maumee River at Toledo, Ohio.   It is known they came down the Maumee River to Fort Wayne in an open boat and landed near the Old Wyndeís dam, sleeping in the open air on the night of May 1, 1834.   This location is near where the Fort Wayne Filtration plant is now.   His daughter, Jane, is to have aid the fish were so plentiful in the river that they could dip their hands in the water and come up with a fish.

 

On June 11, 1834, ISODORE PICHON purchased a tract of land designated as follows:  SE ľ Sec. 1, Township 31 N, Range 12 E, 160 acres for $200.  This is in Washington Township on the northwest corner of Wallen and Auburn Roads.   The original land grant to Mr. Pichon is signed by President Andrew Jackson.

 

In 1839 the first Catholic society in Washington Township was organized in the home of ISIDORE PICHON with 15 families attending.   Rev. JULIAN BENOIT offered mass.   This was the beginning of St. Vincent de Paul parish, located on a site adjacent to the Comparet and Klinger water-powered mill, along what was known as Becketís Run. 

 

On January 14, 1846, in a codicil to his will, while giving all his land to his children, he did bequeath a 2 acre parcel of it to the Reverend CELESTINE GUYNEMER DE LA HAILANDIERE, Catholic Bishop of Vincennes, Knox County and the state of Indiana to be surveyed and used to build a chapel and develop a graveyard.   Reverend J. Benoit was given the authority to carry out ISIDORE PICHONís request to build a church.    Five days after signing the codicil, ISIDORE died on January 19, 1846, at the age of 67. 

 

The first church was a log structure, built on the east side of Auburn Road.   Services were held every two weeks by Rev. JULIAN BENOIT.   The first priest was Father DESCHAMP who was installed in 1857 and who remained there for 3 years until his death.

 

The second church was a log frame structure erected by Reverend AUGUST BESSOINES on the west side of Auburn Road in 1854, with a cottage to follow being built in 1855. 

 

The third church was built in 1861 under the direction of Father AUGUST ADAM at a total cost of $1476.00.   The congregation furnished the lumber and labor.   Father Adam, I am told, was a fine carpenter.   In 1866, the Academie of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was built and this site later was occupied by the Crosier House.   A rectory was built in 1868, also built by Father Adam, who also built St. Louis at Besancon. 

 

The fourth and present church was built in 1904 during the pastorate of Reverend M. P. LOUEN.   It is a brick structure, after the Roman style of architecture and, inclusive of furniture, cost approximately $12,000.   It held 350 persons.  

 

Other historical facts:

 

 On April 2, 1847, Isidoreís son, CLAUDE, sold the remaining 38 acres of the original forty acres purchased by ISIDORE PICHON, to ELIAS WATERS, who had been the executor of Isidoreís estate and a worthy and esteemed friend of Isidore.   ELIAS WATERS bequeathed his land to his family.    Allen County Abstract Records show that CHARLES I. BADIAC, administrator of the estate of STEPHEN WATERS, in August 1894, was granted permission to sell, either by private or public sale, this parcel of land.  MARCIA FLOOD, the great, great, great granddaughter of ISIDORE PICHON, furnished me with much of this information, and informed me that CHARLES I. BADIAC, the administrator of STEPHEN WATERS estate, was the grandson of ISIDORE PICHON.   

 

Historical data shows that one of the heirs of the Waterís estate was CORDELIA SHEARS, who donated the land at the north end of the present cemetery lot to Reverend JOSEPH RADAMACHER, Bishop of Fort Wayne, on January 18, 1896, thus completing the old cemetery land which stands today.  

 

Burial site of Fathers DESCHAMP an ADAM

 

The burial site of Father FRANCIS DESCHAMPS is now shown at the south border of the large Crucifix stone alter in the center of the old cemetery.   However, the actual location of Father Deschampís plot is not known as he was originally buried under the church built in 1861, directly in front of the sanctuary.   The location of the grave was marked with a beautiful marble slab in the floor of the church in 1892 and marked the exact site of his grave.   Church construction in 1904 and resulted in the marble slab disappearing and the exact location of Father Deschampís grave is unknown.   The present cemetery altar memorial where Fathers Deschamp and Adam are buried was erected by Father JOSEPH LYNN in 1920.