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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada  ~ Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada

Stella Maris And St. Richard's Cemeteries

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Stella Maris and St. Richard’s cemeteries lie within the boundaries of the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada, in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia.

St. Richard’s Cemetery is located on the extension of  route #22 just west of  the junction with the “Administration compound” road. It was in use from around 1848, when St. Peter’s Chapel was constructed, until 1938. St. Peter’s chapel blew down in a violent gale in December 31, 1848 and a new chapel, later named St. Richard’s, was constructed by 1853. St. Richard’s was in use as a place of worship until the early 1890s. The last burial in the cemetery was that of James Kennedy in September 1938.

St. Richard’s has only 9 markers though there are many more graves. The markers include:

1. Catherine Bourgeois, the wife of Theotime P. Bourgeois, who died in 1897. ( She was Catherine Slattery of Louisbourg, daughter of  Michael Slattery and Mary Lorway and died just two months after the birth of her son Joseph – See Main-a-dieu birth registry for both births)

2. Matthew Kehoe, the son of George and Mary, who died at age 27 in 1897 (Son of George Kehoe and Mary Shaw, born  2 Nov, 1869 – see Main-a-dieu birth registry)

3. John Lorway who died in 1916 aged 85 years, and his wife Jane Shaw who died in 1897

4. Charlie, infant son of Charles W. and Ellen Wheatly who died at age 3 weeks and 3 days. ( Ellen Wheatly may have been one of the Cryer family ).

5. The Phelan iron cross, made by Louisbourg  blacksmith Martin Levatte, and commemorating Thomas Phelan and his wife Phoebe Kehoe. A granite marker was placed here by Thomas Bates, Sr., in June 2005.

6. Richard and Ellen O’Toole, a grey granite monument.

7. Dennis Kennedy, his wife Henrietta Price and their children, a grey marble monument.

8. A wooden cross with no indication of who the person is.

9. A deteriorated and illegible marble stone lying flat. This is probably the one documented by Sandra Ferguson as belonging to Annie Kehoe, daughter of George & Mary, who died on November 20, 1894 aged 26 years.

Stella Maris Cemetery was first used circa 1890/92, after Stella Maris Church was constructed about 2 kilometres from the St. Richard’s site, just inside the western boundary of the former Town of Louisbourg. Though  the  church and associated glebe house were removed in 1968, the cemetery is still a final resting place for those families who had plots there or other older members of the Old Town community.

The new  Stella Maris cemetery (1977 to present ) is at the east end of Louisbourg on the McCuish Road (Clarke’s Road to the people of Louisbourg). Mark Connington, who died in 1977, was the first person buried in this new cemetery.

As with St. Richards, the markers in Old Stella Maris cemetery represent only a portion of those who are buried there. Many people either do not have markers, or the wooden crosses or field stones marking their graves have disappeared.

Are there records of all those buried in St. Richard’s and Stella Maris cemeteries?

The short answer is, no, the records are not complete.

The Stella Maris Parish death register, the most complete document, begins in 1909 and continues to the present. It is maintained by the parish priest of Stella Maris. But, by 1909 Stella Maris Parish had been established for  eight years and the cemetery had been in use for almost 18 years. The death records for the Stella Maris and St. Richard’s between 1901-1908 are lost. The death records from Main-a-dieu, of which Louisbourg was a mission church until 1901, have been lost as well.

Other sources of information for the early period of the cemetery include newspaper accounts and the older and dated  grave markers. Here are some of the newspaper references to deaths in Stella Maris parish in the first 9 years of the 20th century. The grave markers can be found in the section entitled Grave Stone Transcriptions.

Newspaper References to deaths in Stella Maris Parish 1900-1908

The Sydney newspapers give some help for the period 1900 to 1909. Jacqueline Bates, wife of Tom Bates, Jr., is an avid researcher of genealogy and has sent along two references from newspapers.

6 November 2002 (Slattery)

Good afternoon,

I do not think I have sent this information to you  already, so I am sending it to you now.

    I think I may have stumbled  across a twist in the story as to  why Valentine Slattery had the remains  of his mother, father and brother reburied in Louisbourg in the summer of  1904.  I originally thought it may have had something to do with the fact  that Valentine's unmarried sister, Margaret, was a resident of Louisbourg, but  after going over the will of Joseph Slattery I am inclined to think  otherwise.

    According to Joseph Slattery's  will, he was giving away his property at Gabarus except for an acre of land  which was being used as a family cemetery.  In the will he stated that at  his wife's death the land at Gabarus was to be equally divided between his sons,  Israel and Valentine, "...except for an acre of land for a cemetery on the spot  where it is now situated, with a path to the public highway and never to be  sold, but to be reserved as a place of internment for the family  forever."  

    I have not been able to look at  any property transfers from 1904, but I am wondering if Valentine Slattery sold  the Gabarus property to somebody and the bodies had to be removed from the  cemetery.

    Joseph Slattery made his will in  November of 1867 and according to the records at the Archives, the will was  proved July 10, 1868.

Jacqueline Bates

26 January 2001 ( George Kehoe and Charles Baldwin )

While going through the deaths for Louisbourg and the surrounding area ( 1900 - 1910 ), I  came across only two instances of burials taking place in St.Richard's Cemetery.  At that, the newspapers did not refer to the cemetery as "St.Richard's" .  The papers termed it "the old cemetery".

    According to The Daily Record of August 30, 1902 ( dated Lsbg. 29th ) the death of George Kehoe occurred at his home on Thursday.  Mr.Kehoe had been in failing health for about one year.  His funeral took place this morning.  Remains were laid to rest in the old cemetery.

    On March 28, 1904 The Sydney Record recorded the following:The funeral of the late Charles Baldwin was largely attended.  The remains were taken to Stella Maris Church at 8 a.m., where a requiem high mass was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Challand.  From thence they were conveyed to the old Catholic Cemetery at West Louisburg for burial.  He leaves a widow and three children, the eldest being 12 years of age.

    Charles Baldwin, a son of Thomas Baldwin and Anne Anderson, was born at Louisbourg ca.1853.  He and his wife, Susan, had three children...Mary ( b.1891 ), Thomas William ( b.1892 ) and Charles ( b.1896 ).  Charles, Sr., lost his life at the shipping pier of the Dominion Coal Company on March 23, 1904.  He had been checking on a car on the dump table, when the latch of the table slipped.  When the latch of the table stopped descending, he was thrown into the water.  Twenty minutes after being thrown into the water, his body was recovered.  According to the newspaper account, Drs. Morrison and O'Neill spent a considerable time in trying to resuscitate him, but gave up when they found "the vital spark had fled."

 Jacqueline Bates

Additional Newpaper References

In addition to the material supplied by Jacqueline Bates,  there are other references in the newspapers in the first decade of the 20th century and the following deaths are noted.

( N.B. there is more detail in the notices and there may have been some deaths missed. The microfilm for the Sydney, Nova Scotia newspapers including the Daily Record, the Sydney Record and the Daily News can be found at the McConnell Memorial Library in Sydney and the university Library and Beaton Institute archives of Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia.)

Ormand.  “Mrs. Ormand  was enter'd today at 3 oclock P.M. at the old F.B. ( French Burial) Ground” ( this was located at Rochefort Point ).

Edward Kavanaugh Journal, May 27, 1849, McConnell Memorial Library, Sydney, NS.

Kennedy, Ellen of old town died at Little Lorraine while on a visit to friends

Daily Record, Feb 27, 1901.

Power, Josephine, The 11 year old daughter of Captain Power died of diphtheria.

Daily Record, April 2, 1901.

Kennedy, Captain William. Suffocated after being buried under a fall of coal in the coal pocket. “ Now sleeps in the church yard alongside his father”. Not certain whether this is Louisbourg or Main-a-Dieu.

Daily Record, June 5, 1901.

Kelly, Richard

Daily Record, February 15, 1902.

Price, Mrs. Nicholas

Daily Record, April 16, 1902.

Power, infant child of Mr. And Mrs. George Power

Daily Record, April 16, 1902.

McMillan (McMullan), Daniel

Daily Record, April 15, 1903.

Kelly, Martin

Sydney Record, January 16, 1904.

Bates, Mrs. John, daughter of Samuel Tutty of Big Lorraine

Sydney Record, May, 9 & 10 , 1904 .

O’Hanley (O’Handley), the little daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John O’Hanley ( O’Handley).

Sydney Record, October 17 & 18, 1904.

Currie, Archibald, buried in Stella Maris

Sydney Record, November 7 & 8, 1904.

Williams, Mrs. John buried in Stella Maris

Sydney Record, March 2 & 6, 1905.

Williams, Mrs. William. Daughter of Patrick O’Dowd.

Sydney Record, July 24 & 25, 1905.

O’Hanley, Mrs. Wife of  John and daughter of George Kehoe, Stell Maris

Sydney Record, July 24 & 25,  1905.

Kelly, Joseph, St. Richard’s

Sydney Record, July 25 & 26, 1905.

O’Toole, Patrick L., 2 month old son of Vincent O’Toole, Stella Maris

Sydney Record, August 8 & 9,  1905.

McMillan (MacMullin/an), Patrick, son of Roderick McMillan

Sydney Record,  Sept 20 & 22, 1905.

Murphy, Philip married to Catherine daughter of the late Richard Kelly

Sydney Record, November 7 & 8,  1905.

MacIntyre, 2 week old son of Mrs. And Mrs. Daniel MacIntyre

Sydney Record,  October 3, 1905.

Campbell, Sadie Belle 9 months old of pneumonia daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Dougald Campbell. Sydney Record, February 17,  1906.

Campbell, Ignatius, 3 year old son of Mr. And Mrs. Dougald Campbell,

Sydney Record, April 2, 1906.

Williams, Mrs. John Jr.

Sydney Record, October 15, 1906.

O’Toole, Josephine, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph O’Toole.

Sydney Record, November 20, 1906.

Kennedy, P.   Stella Maris church, “ From there the remains were taken to the Old Catholic Cemetery at Fort Louisburg to rest among the ancestors of the deceased “ ( N.B. This may have been the last burial at the Old French Cemetery at Rochefort Point.)

Sydney Record, November 24, 1906.

Snow, Mrs.

Sydney Record, December 5, 1906.

Power, Mrs. George who died at Summerside, PEI

Sydney Record, December 5, 1906.

Kennedy, Edward

Sydney Record, January 25, 1907.

Peck, Carrie

Sydney Record, June 7, 1907.

Regan, Miss Ellen, of Newfoundland and sister of Mrs. Lewis Baldwin – St. Richard’s.

Sydney Record, July 13, 1907.

Burke, Mary Loretta, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James P. Burke,

Sydney Record, August 25, 1908.


Sydney Record, August 25, 1908.

The Stella Maris stones tell stories of the community. Here are a few:

Slattery: There are three stones to the Slattery family which predate the opening of the cemetery – how did they get here. In 1904 Valentine Slattery removed the remains of his family from Gabarus, where there had been a small Roman Catholic Church, and reburied them in Louisbourg.

O’Toole: The O’Toole monument in red granite surmounted by a stone urn is interesting as well. The stone was erected before the turn of the 1900s by Marcella O’Toole in memory of her husband, Patrick O’Toole. In 1919 the parish priest felt that the monument, because of its design, was inappropriate for a catholic cemetery.  Mrs. O’Toole wrote to the bishop of the day saying that up until that point there had been no complaints about the stone – nothing more was said.

Lynk: The red granite monument to Frederick Lynk, erected by his fellow workers, records a tragic death “ a very sad accident occurred last night, resulting tin the death of Frederick Lynk, a young man of this town. Mr. Lynk was a brakeman on the shunting engine, and it is thought that in changing the switch that he must have lost his balance and fell across the rail, as his head was completely severed from his body. Lynk was a smart, industrious,  sober young man and his death is a great blow to his parents how have the sympathy of their friends in their sad bereavement. Sydney Daily Record, November 10, 1900.

Burke: Another stone in the cemetery, granite with lead letters, commemorates Viola Burke a young woman who was a member of the Louisburg Brass Band – one of 8 women who were part of this unique community organization which began during World War 1. When she died suddenly in June 1922. Melvin S. Huntington, who attended the funeral, wrotes in his diary that it  “ was the most largely attended I have seen in this town.” The legend that grew around the event was that she had died from eating lobster and ice cream or mackerel and ice cream    combinations that aren’t supposed to go well together. In actuality, she suffered from an aneurysm and couldn’t get to the hospital in Glace Bay in time to survive.

Marconi deaths: There are  three stones for Michael Dennis Pope, Aubrey Kelly and Hugh Connington killed on July 3, 1922 in a tragic accident at Marconi Towers in Glace Bay.