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Marist Brothers Cemetery 1909-1953.xml


Part of Marist Land History: Marist Brothers Cemetery 1909-1953 Wall along Delafield Street


Marist Brothers Cemetery 1909-1953

Wall along Delafield Street

The Marist Brothers cemetery was placed at the lowest
end of the Bech property, just north of the Myers
parcel. It was established in 1909 when Brother
Charles Camille died at the age of 23. Creating a
cemetery on the Brothers property was commonplace
in Europe and even common in the United States,
where many family cemeteries were located on family
property. Later the practice changed to creating
cemeteries adjacent to the church. When these filled,
the practice evolved to central cemeteries.
Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery holds the remains of
many who were originally buried next to their
"Once there was a distinguished looking, six foot high
concrete wall along Route 9 from the South entrance to
the North entrance. Brother Paul Acyndinus built this
over several years with hand-cast concrete blocks. I
know because as a Novice I was
assigned to work for an hour a day
making them in iron molds, four each
day. It is ironic that it was I who
demolished this wall in 1966. It had
begun to disintegrate, and some people
said that it made the campus look like a
prison. The wall around the old
cemetery was built the same way and
embellished with colored glass mosaics.
Novices were sometimes assigned to go
the the city dump and pick up discarded
colored bottles which they brought back
and broke into usable sized pieces for
the mosaics."
page 7 of Brother Nilus
Vincent Donnelly's memoir
of 75 Years
The cemetery had two rows of graves on
each side of the center aisle. A
monument was placed r over each
brother's grave. Later, a small
concrete rectangular frame was placed
over each grave, and flowers planted within each frame. Neat as it looked from above, the coffins were not always
aligned. There was considerable rock and some graves had to be completed with a compressor and jackhammer.
Others were placed slightly out of line to make use of available dirt and bypass rock. The graves were dug by the
novices, with the novitiate building the closest building to the cemetery. I know this because I was one of those
assigned to dig several graves!
One of the greatest honors of my Novitiate days was being assigned to toll once a minute, the large bronze bell on
the Novitiate veranda as the cortege passed on the way to the cemetery to bury one of the Brothers who had died.
This bell is now in the tower in front of the chapel.
" page 8 of Brother Nilus Vincent Donnelly's memoir
Memories of
75 Years
By 1953 the cemetery was full, and expansion would have been difficult because of the rock formations. The Brothers
established a second cemetery in Esopus New York which has been in use since 1953.
An attempt was made to relocate the graves in Poughkeepsie to Esopus, but the legal technicalities became
formidable. Since the level of the original cemetery was about 15 feet below the level established for the Myers parcel
site of the proposed McCann Athletic Center, just south of the cemetery, Brother Nilus carefully turned over the
crosses at each grave, and broke the wall leaving the stones in place to mark the border of the site. The College

agreed not to construct any edifices over the cemetery, and established a monument to be placed over or near the
cemetery site.

Visitors to the Marist Brothers cemetery in Esopus NY in October 2010. The environment is definitely rural. A Calvary
group is at the far right along the grass sections where the visitors are standing. The cemetery has spaces between
the small stone markers for more grave sites.
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Monument and Esopus cemetery photos by Richard Foy, September & October 2010. Earlier photos on file with the
Marist Heritage Program Collection at the Marist College Library Archives.
most recent revision October 9, 2012