Henry County, IAGenWeb

Woodlawn (aka Irishtown, Old Catholic) Cemetery

Center Twp, Henry County, Iowa

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Note from transcriber: A word of caution ... the following information should be used as a guide for further research



Most all of the men, women and children whose remains rest in this now beautiful and quiet spot came originally from Ireland, the Emerald Isle, every one of whom were very poor indeed, because they were the victims of the unjust, vicious landlord system under the British rule of the island for centuries.

Some may ask how did they come here and why?

They had heard of this land of FREEDOM and they came to get freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and petition for justice, freedom of employment at living wages, and also the right to work as well as the opportunity to work.

To get the means for their transportation they saved and were assisted by their friends and relatives, some in Ireland and some who had preceded them to America. When they arrived in New York many of them were stranded for lack of more funds and friends, and it is reported that Mr. Jno. Winters, Sr., who operated a large stone quarry near the city, arranged for the transportation for many out to Mt. Pleasant where they became employed in his quarry at what to them seemed high wages. So they came and settled in Woodlawn, a subdivision of the city. Yes, it is Woodlawn, and here they buried their beloved dead, and this cemetery was founded.

After the quarry ceased to operate and after it had furnished much of the stone which entered into the state hospital for the insane here and also much of the stone for bridges and culverts for the Burlington railroad, many of the employed moved away, either to larger farms or other employment. The cemetery fell into decay, grown up in brush, vines and briers, until the friends and relatives of those interred there became interested and together cleared and improved it.

Here is a partial list of the men who took part in the improvement of this sacred spot, initiated and supervised by Father Welch: J.S. Watters, James Bresnahan, the Fitzpatricks, the McCormicks, the Hurleys, the Burks, the Burns, the Bruggemeyers, the Scotts, Dan Cash, and others equally honored, turning the former jungle into a spot of beauty and a joy forever to those who visit it since its renovation.

There are some who prefer to rest here in this quiet spot in sight of the spire of the church they love so well in preference to the side of a road with its bustle, noise, and dust of traffic.

Lest we forget, let us remind ourselves that here in this quiet and almost forgotten spot lie the remains of those whose labor, keenness of mind and determined spirit helped to build our civilization of this generation. They came and they built for their children and those to follow them, better than they anticipated.

Here is a partial list of the names of the men, women, and children buried in the old Woodlawn cemetery taken from the tombstones still standing and rearranged by interested friends under the direction of Father Welsh of this parish.

Johana Danihe, died 1878, age 66 years;
Hanora Helpin, died 1877, age 97;
Ellen, wife of Jno. Grady, 1874, age 66 years;
D. Grady, 1877, 37 years;
James Hanley, Co B, II Ky. Cavalry;
Infant, age 8 days, son of Mr. and Mrs. Costello;
Mathew McGuire, 60 years;
Christopher Roark, 1875, 60 years;
Wm. Roark, 1868, 57 years;
Catherine Roark, 1867, 74 years;
Charles Fitzgerald, 1873, 50 years;
Mary Garr, 1871, 11 months;
Elizabeth Garr, wife of Patrick Garr, 1870, 21 years, born in County Kerry, Ireland;
Patrick Toomey, 1847, 63 years;
Michael Eagan, 1871, 18 years;
Jno. McGuire, 1871, 63 years, native of County West Meath, Ireland;
Ann, wife of Jno. McGuire, 1872, 67 years;
Cecely Salmon, 1872, 8 years;
Anna [Salmon], 1872, 6 years;
Thomas [Salmon], 1861, 21 years;
Josephine [Salmon], 1872, 3 years;
Jno. Davis, 1871, 50 years;
Margaret Glashine, 1872, 3 years;
Margaret Rogers, 1890, 52 years;
Michael White, 1878, 60 years, born in County Galway, Ireland;
Anna M. McGuire, 1882, infant;
Patrick M. Hugh, 1877, 20 years;
Name gone, Epitaph Stone broken;
Jas. J. Wall, 1881, 20 years;
Edward Kehoe, 1878, 52 years, native of County Wexford, Ireland;
Bridget Burke, 1884, 18 years;
Mary, wife of Peter Smith, 1880, 56 years, native of Ireland;
Hattie Rourke, 1878, 14 years;
Bee Rowley, 1884, 26 years;
Jno. Barry, 1888, 73 years, born in County [sic]Watterford, Ireland, parish Killrasenty;
Jno. Courtney, 1881, 24 years;
Nancy Courtney, 1893, 68 years;
Mary M. Courtney, 1880, 21 years;
Mary McCarthy, 1886, 59 years.

Some of the stones are overgrown with moss and almost unreadable, while on many there [are] epitaphs of love and reverence showing the deep affection held for their departed resting in this sacred historical spot.

It is a pleasant spot, transformed into a lovely grassy lawn with a good woven wire fence around it. On these grounds, as on so many other cemeteries, there stands one lone tree which in the spring the bloom, swelling buds and leaves are typical of the resurrection of the dead over which it watches like a silent sentinel.

It is very fitting that the memory of these dead pioneers should be honored and esteemed for the good they did the community, for their labors, and by those who now live and beautified the place.

Someone has said that the care and condition of the cemeteries of a community indicates its social and religious spirit.

There are too many burial spots in the county where the sleepers there, as well as the little or much good they did while living are forgotten, unknown, and unhonored by the living present. – Contributed.

[“Mt. Pleasant News”, November 22, 1947]

Transcribed and contributed by Pat White for Henry County IAGenWeb, September 29, 2017

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