Wednesday, May 29, 2013

St. Stephen's Cemetery, Louisville, KY

Rather than go swimming in the nearby pool, I took advantage of the Memorial Day holiday to visit an interesting and unusual local cemetery, St. Stephen's, located just east of Old Louisville.  It is a worthwhile visit, should you find the time and inclination.

 St. Stephen's is unusual in the Louisville of modern times.  Unlike other active cemeteries, it is actually located in the fairly urban part of inner Louisville, rather than the suburban fringe of the town.  This helps to date it and place it in the context of Louisville history.  The Map is from Google.

The headstone of Christ Meinel, located near the front of the cemetery gives some indication of what makes St. Stephen's so unique, its decidedly German heritage.  Herr Meinel was geboren den 1. Juli 1824 and then he gestorben den 9 August 1873. 

Upset by the $6 burial charge put in place by the Portland  Cemetery, a group of German Catholics decided to open their own burial ground.  This particular graveyard created something of a schism in the catholic community, with the local parish and archdiocese both demanding deed to the property.  Rather than face excommunication, the cemetery's founders instead turned the land over to a private society, defusing the situation and preserving local harmony.

This pair of headstones goes even further, listing the birthplace of each individual, Peter Knappe from Baden and his compatriot from Hessen-Darmstaat.

As time passed, so did the community and the cemetery located in it's midst.  While the upper part of this stone is written in German, the final entry dated years later is in English. I could find no markers dated after the turn of century inscribed in German.  While the names were still mostly Germanic, the language seems to have slipped away.

This stone displays another interesting mark from the past, a Woodman of the World engraving.  Popular in the early part of the century, the Woodman were a fraternal order that offered burial insurance for their members.  This insurance seems to have been contingent on having the organizations logo placed somewhere on the stone. 

Another stone marked with the emblem.  One popular stone of the period was actually shaped like a tree stump or small log

A close up of the small bronze plaque.

 The sun setting in the west, behind the newer part of the cemetery.  I-65 is just beyond the woodline.  I walked through most of the cemetery, visiting the graves of as many veterans as I could find.  There are a large number of military stones in St. Stephen's, most dating from the 1960s. 

This particular stone one belongs to Elbert Anderson, a 20 year old Louisville native who was killed in the race across France in the summer of 1944.  PFC Anderson would've landed on Normandy on June 7, 1944 with the rest of his unit, the day after the invasion so famously depicted in Saving Private Ryan.  He is listed on the Louisville World War Two memorial in the heart of the city as having fallen in battle.  

Melvin Goldsmith, also 20 years old, was killed in the Korean War.  The war was largely a stalemate by October of 1952, and the 1st Marine Division was tasked with defending a fixed line along the border, similar to the trench warfare of World War 1.  PFC Goldsmith likely met his end attacking or defending some tactical position, like a hilltop or bunker.  He was one of 4,004 Marines in his division to be killed in Korea.  The war ended in July of 1953.

Seaman Apprentice Michael E. Jaggers was injured by a falling hatch on August 11, 1969, dying two days later.  His ship, an aircraft carrier named the USS Bennington was on its final voyage that day.  It would be taken out of military service that same month and was scrapped in the 1990s.

He was 18 years old when he died. 

I was unable to find anything out about the Rogers, but it would appear that they are brothers who died on the same day.  Several gifts, large and small, had been left in front of their marker. 

A final shot facing the entrance of the cemetery as I left. 


  1. I work right by this cemetery and walk through there nearly every day. It is quiet and peaceful even thought I-65 is right beside it. The trees do much to insulate it against the noise from the road. Thanks for documenting it in such a lovely way. :)

    1. We're glad that you enjoy the post, truly. Because the place is so overlooked, I rarely see anyone else when I'm out there, so it's pretty calming in that way.

  2. I have a Grandfather and Grandmother there with the surname Gregory. I wish they had some sort of listing or plots to see if I could find there location in there!

  3. The ROGERS BROS. were electrocuted when they were putting up outside Christmas Decorations on their Parent's home in Shepherdsville, Ky.