St. Patrick’s Cemetery

In 1838 St. Patrick’s Church bought land on Pinnacle Hill as a burial place. Part of the lot was in the City of Rochester and part in the Town of Brighton. When Holy Sepulchre Cemetery began in 1871 only people that already owned lots in St. Patrick’s were allowed to be buried there. There are records showing that some removals to Holy Sepulchre started in 1872. By 1879 the cemetery had become very overgrown. Old newspaper articles say that the last burial in St. Patrick’s was in 1900. Then in 1935 it was decided to remove all the rest of the burials in the cemetery.

Over the years I have had a web page with some of the known burials in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. Many years ago I was sent a copy of what I thought was a card of the removal of Bernard Huck. The person that sent it to me wrote that he found it at the Archives of the Diocese of Rochester on Buffalo Road. I had put off looking at those records for years. I called Sister Connie at the Archives and she informed me that the removals were not cards but in booklets. I made an appointment in mid January and thought that it might take me a couple of visits because I knew there were a few hundred identified removals.

Part of first page from Book 1

When I got to the Archives I was totally amazed at what Sister Connie had. Besides the removals (I’ll come back to those), she had two books of interments in the cemetery. Book one was about 1.5 inches but the interments only took up less than a quarter of the book. Book Two was only about a half an inch but most of the book was later burials in Holy Sepulchre. I ended up taking many visits to transcribe all the records in those two books. I think there are records for about 2500 people buried between Nov. 1864 and Nov. 1888. I wasn’t sure what the dates in the interment books were. The records were not in date order so they aren’t burial dates. They could be dates when the burial was paid for. My best guess is that they are death dates. Except when I looked some of the people in newspaper articles sometimes the dates were before and sometimes after the death date in the newspaper. I had to leave out most of the interments from December 1866 (approx. 15) as the writing was too light to be able to read.

If you have done any transcribing of old records,you know it is difficult to tell what some letters are. An “n” and a “u” start to look alike. The person that recorded the interments also didn’t know how to spell some surnames so you get lots of different spellings for a single family. One person recording names like to spell “Dennis” with just one “n” and “Margaret” with two “t”s. There were some records in book two that did have have a heading showing that the person that recorded those records wrote down death dates.

Part of first page from Book Two

Sometimes in the interment books it is listed that the person is buried in a “single grave.” Those are plots for those people that didn’t have a family lot. Some people were buried in the “poor ground.” Those were always listed is being buried for $0.Then also some later records also included what Parish the person was from.

Those removals from 1935 that I thought were on cards turned out to be fours small aprrox. 4 x 6 inch books of slips that appear to be work sheets. Most just have something like “5 unidentified” or “12 unidentified.” They did identify some people from lead nameplates on the remainsĀ  of coffins. An even smaller number were identified by tombstones. All together there around 700 people that were identified.

Removals: 1935; A – K

Another black book in the Archives (picture on right) also had removals from 1935 but these were sorted alphabetically. For some odd reason, it only had surnames from A to K. At least the writing in this book had very good handwriting. It also had dates of removal and ages. Another thing that it had was a burial location within the St. Patrick’s lot. It listed section, tier and grave number. When I would later ask the staff in the Holy Sep. office if they had a map of the St. Patrick’s lot; they said there wasn’t any map of that lot. So the exact locations within the St. Patrick’s lot are of no use.

It seems that most of the identified removals were never claimed by any family members so they ended up in the St. Patrick’s lot with all the unidentified removals. There were less than 100 that ended up being buried in family lots in Holy Sepulchre.

I looked up names of removals on the Holy Sepulchre online database and surprised to find most of those are in the database. They have the same section, tier and grave numbers but the website or the kiosk at Holy Sepulchre can’t map to the correct location in the St. Patrick’s lot.

I started adding all the new data the web page that I had updated over the years. I also included reference numbers to you know what source or sources the data came from. The web page ended up being so big that I had to split it into two webpages:

St Patrick’s; surnames A – K
St Patrick’s; surnames L – Z

The first web page also includes an introduction. There is also a link to a lot map from 1852. That map came from the Rochester Maps and Surveys Department. It only includes that portion of the cemetery that was in the City of Rochester. There isn’t a map for the portion of the cemetery which was in the Town of Brighton. The single graves and the poor ground must have been in the Brighton portion.

So most of what is still missing is burials from the 1850s. Over the years I have found names of people buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery from old newspapers. There are people listed in the newspapers that didn’t show up in the interment books. There are always going to be some mysteries about people buried in this cemetery.


  1. Hi Dick,
    Wow! Thank you for all your research, and for making this information available to everyone. This is the kind of research that I have a lot of fun doing, because one small clue can add to another, and all kinds of family history questions can get answered. Detective work is fun!
    I tried looking for members of the Story family, who are part of my extended family. I found Alice Story, who was the daughter of Richard Story, one of the pioneer settlers of Rochester. Two of her sisters married into my Cochrane family.
    Thank you, Dick, for making a big difference.

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