Milwaukee County Cemeteries

Burials and Interments

Homes of the Dead

Source: From the Pioneer History of Milwaukee From the First American Settlement in 1833 to 1841 with a Topographical Description; by James S. Buck; 1890

The first cemetery on the West Side was upon that block lying between Spring, Sycamore, Eighth and Ninth streets, in that portion lying west of the alley: St. James Church now stands upon this spot.  I have helped to bury quite a number there: no burials have taken place, however, for may years, upon that ground, and all who were buried there have been removed.

The second was on the block bordered by Thirteenth, Chestnut, Poplar (now Cold Spring avenue and Summer streets.  This ground is now built over, the bodies having all been removed.

There was also a cemetery on the East Side upon the block bounded by Astor, Racine, Kewaunee and Brady streets.  I have helped to bury quite a number there.  This burial ground was abandoned long ago and all or nearly all the bodies removed, and with the exception of Potters Field, near the hospital, there is now no cemetery upon the East Side.

There was also quite a number of interments upon the south west corner of Ogden and Astor streets, but who they were or when interred there I am unable to ascertain; there were some twenty in all; the ground is now entirely built over.

The third was the old Catholic cemetery on Spring street above Twenty second; this was also abandoned long ago, may of the bodies being removed to the new one, Calvary in Wauwatosa.


Source: History of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Western Historical Company, Chicago; A.T. Andreas Proprietor, 1881

It is fit to close this chapter on the churches and the founders theory with the resting places which have been set apart for the sacred burial of the dead. Around them lingers the tenderness of the living, and the influences of the religious orders which game them birth.

Forest Home Cemetery

Forest Home Cemetery was established in 1850, by the Vestry of St. Paul's (Episcopal) Church. To make the first payment on the land the following agreement, on April 10 of that year, was subscribed to the five prominent citizens of the place: " We, the undersigned, subscribe the sum of twenty dollars each, in order to enable the Vestry of St. Paul's Church, Milwaukee, to purchase a certain piece of land, the property of the heirs of the Late Lemuel B. Hull, being sixty acres more or less, situate at the junction of the Janesville Plank road and Kilbourn road; which piece of land the said vestry pledge themselves shall be forever appropriated to the sole purpose of the interment of the dead. And we subscribe, with the further understanding that for and in consideration of the said sum of twenty dollars, when the same shall be paid in full, we are entitled to select twenty feet square, or as near square as the roads and paths will permit, in said piece of land for a burying-place and to have the right of burial and of erecting tombs and vaults and also cenotaphs and other monuments, thereupon deeded us, our heirs and assigns, forever; and we subscribe with the still further understanding that the Vestry of St. Paul's Church, Milwaukee, will make and enforce all such rules and regulations, in relation to the burying of the dead within said grounds, as they shall deem most conducive to the best interests of all concerned and that all funds arising from the sale of the lots shall be applied exclusively to the improvements and embellishment of the grounds." Two of the subscribers, viz., James B. Martin and Edwin H. Goodrich, each took two lots, making the total subscription $1,140, all of which was paid and lots selected by subscribers or their assigns.

Of the original subscribers the following persons are known to be still alive; David Ferguson, Benjn McVickar, Hans Crocker, Lyndsey Ward, Wm B. Hibbard, Chas Wardner, Alexr Mitchell, Harrison Ludington, Wm P. Lynde, J.A. Helfenstein, John P. McGregor, J.K. Bartlett, Francis Randall, Elisha Starr, Anson Eldred, Edwd. Weissner, Chas. A. Hastings, Edward P. Allis, L.H. Leavenwroth, Henry J. Nazro, Wm. A. Prentiss, John H. Tweedy, Edwin B. Goodrich

The first purchase was for about 72 acres (including five acres donated by the seller, Mr. Hull, for the free interment of indigent members of the Protestant Episcopal Church) which has since been added to until they now control about 188 acres. About 148 acres are situated in the northeast corner of the Town of Lake and the other 40 acres adjoining in the Town of Greenfield. The main body of the land adjoins the city limits and is about four miles from the post-office. It was originally laid out by the lamented I.A. Lapham, and since then thousands of dollars have been expended in cutting and smoothing wide gravelled roadways, maintaining beautiful flower beds, planting trees, erecting a fine fountain and otherwise making it a Forest Home-a restful city of the dead. For beauty of natural location and taste in artificial adornment, it is not a superior in the West. The Cemetery always has been and is now under the control of the Vestry of St. Paul's Church being managed by a committee of three members of that body. The first committee appointed after the adoption of rules and regulations in 1850 consisted of James B. Martin, John W. Medbery and Alan W. Hatch (the latter alone surviving), with present committee in charge is David Ferguson, Chairman, Ben K. Miller and Albert Antisden, with Jas. A. Pirie as Secretary, and James Currie as Superintendent (the latter residing on the grounds). The main office is at No. 117 Wisconsin street. No member of the committee receives compensation; the other officers are salaried employees.

Deeds are given to purchasers of lots, executed by the corporation of "The Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul's Church," and contain the usual conditions nad restrictions non inconsistent with the laws of Wisconsin. The cemetery is maintained solely from the sale of lots and graves, charges to lot owners for opening graves and taking care of and decorating their lots in summer. No donations, either public or private, have ever been received, but several lot owners are considering the propriety of bequeathing certain sums of money in trust for the purpose of perpetually providing for the care and maintenance of their lots. The corporation would gladly take charge of such trust, adding the same to a fund of their own, at present amounting to about $16,500, which was commenced a few years ago, by reserving a certain per-centage of sales of lots and graves and the accumulation thereon. The income from this fund is intended, when necessary, to be applied to the care of the grounds. The first interment on record appears August 3, 1850, being a child of John P. McGregor, one of the original subscribers and at present time residing in the city. During the year 1864, under authority from the Legislature of the State, the bodies interred in "Milwaukee Cemetery," then located on National avenue, in the Fifth Ward, and numbering about 1,200, were removed to "Forest Home." The total number of interments now recorded are 14,000. In 1864 the manager of the Wisconsin Soldiers' Home (prior to the establishment of the present National Asylum) purchased four lots, containing 1,760 square feet and subsequently the United States purchased four lots containing also 1,760 square feet, which though not adjoining, are in close proximity, and on which are the remains of seventy-two soldiers. There are many other soldiers in different parts of the cemetery, on private lots. The purchase price of all the grounds now owned has been, exclusive of interest on the deferred payments, $30,774.50. The total receipts up to January 1, 1881, have been nearly $240,000, all of which, with the exception of part of the reserve fund, has been expended on the grounds for care and maintenance.

Catholic Cemeteries

In the early history of Milwaukee there was a plat of ground in the First Ward, near the lake, which was fenced in and used as a burial place for citizens, regardless of their religious views. It became afterwards a Catholic burial ground, and in 1844, Bishop (now Archbishop) Henni purchased what is known as the "Old Cemetery," situated on Grand avenue. The first interments were the remains of many taken from the First Ward cemetery. The "Old Cemetery" consisted of ten acres, and contains the dust of several pioneer Catholic clergymen. Rev. Father Huebner, a Jesuit priest, who came here from Switzerland to found a college, died within a few weeks of his arrival, and here his remains were laid to rest. Rev. Father Beauprey, the first pastor of St. Gall's, and who was instrumental in the erection of the cathedral bearing that name, is buried there. This ground becoming two small, and also being in the city limits, what is now known as the Calvary Cemetery was purchased by the Right Rev. John. M. Henni, Bishop of Milwaukee, and consecrated by him, November 2, 1857. This cemetery is located three and a half miles from Milwaukee, in the Town of Wauwatosa. It consists of fifty-five acres of land, laid out and nicely improved. The first interments were the remains of persons removed from the old cemetery. Among the prominent men buried here may be mentioned George Furlong, father of John Furlong, who, it is said, was the second white man who died in Milwaukee; Solomon Juneau, Peter Bradley; also Thomas Eviston, Chief Engineer of the Fire Department, and Captain Barry, victims of the "Lady Elgin" disaster; P.J. Englehardt, H. Hilmantel, A.H. Johnston, Andrew McCormick, C.D. Nash, H. Stoltz, J. Hathaway, and M.J. Zander, the first Catholic undertaker. The total cost of the improvements of the Calvary Cemetery, exclusive of the original costs of the grounds, from 1857 to 1880, was $16,000. The total number buried in the cemetery, from 1857 to 1880, was 10,307.

The congregations using Calvary Cemetery are: St. John's Cathedral, St. Gall's, St. Patrick's, Church of the Holy Name, Church of the Immaculate Conception (Bay View), St. Mary's, St. Joseph's, St. John V. Nepomuk, St. Hedwig, St. Francis, Trinity Church, St. Anthony and Stanislaus. Most Rev. J. M. Henni, D. D. Archbishop, is the owner; Rev. L. Batz, V.G., curator. The pastors of the congregations using the cemetery are the Trustees. Fred. Zander, undertaker, 495 East Water and 482 Eleventh, is the Secretary of the Calvary Cemetery.

Holy Trinity (Catholic) Cemetery is situated in the Town of Lake, two miles from the city. The grounds, which originally consisted of six acres, were purchased by the Trinity congregation, who afterwards admitted St. Anthony and St. Stanislaus. The original cemetery was consecrated in 1859, the additional six acres being consecrated July 8, 1877. The management is with the Holy Trinity congregation, who elect a board of trustees and officers annually. The first committee consisted of Rev. S. Sadler and H. Millmann; the present is, Rev. L. Conrad, M. Burbach, and Ph. Odenbaett; Secretary, Mr. Messman. On the cemetery grounds is a chapel, built by Rev. L. Conrad at an expense of $4,500, and presented to his congregation on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his priesthood. The cost of the grounds, buildings and improvements aggregates $8,000. In the vault of the chapel, built expressly for the burial-place of priests, lies the remains of Rev. Mueller. The committee, after this, will be chosen from the members of the Holy Trinity, St. Anthony's and St. Stanislaus' congregations.

Union Cemetery

Union Cemetery is situated on the Cedarburg plank road, the line between Milwaukee City and Town dividing the grounds. The association was organized January 11, 1865, and for two years was managed by a board of trustees chosen by the two congregations of Grace and St. John's churches. The grounds consist of forty-one acres, but on May 24 the Board of Trustees purchased ten acres from an incorporated body consisting of members of the Trinity congregation. The association is now managed by a board of nine trustees, consisting of three members each from each of the three congregations. The grounds were selected and purchased by Rev. Mulhauser, J.H. Inbusch, Nic. Schoof, Charles Kieckhefer and Henry Dube. The original officers were: President, Charles Kieckhefer; Secretary, Nic. Shoof; Treasurer, John Inbusch. The present officers are: George Brumder, Manager; Charles Kieckhefer, President; F. Richter, Secretary; John Inbusch, Treasurer. The cemetery is maintained by the proceeds from the sale of lots. The cost of the grounds, buildings, and improvements is estimated at $20,000. The first person interred in the cemetery was Maria Heitz, June 11, 1865, and the total number of interments from June, 1867, to June, 1880, 9,863. They have recently purchased twenty-four acres, paying $13,700.

Pilgrims' Rest Cemetery

Pilgrims Rest Cemetery, situated on the Janesville plank road, about half a mile outside the city limits, was established in August, 1880, but St. Stephen's (Lutheran) congregation. It has an area of twenty-three and a half acres and cost $6,000. On the grounds have been built a small church. They are managed by a committee appointed for the purpose of the congregation, consisting of M. Meibohm, M. Thoma, J.G. Trentlage. From August to January 1, 1881, the number of interments aggregate sixty-three the grounds were laid out in handsome style by Engineer Benzenberg.

Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery is situated in the Town of Milwaukee adjoining the Forest Home. The Greenwood Cemetery Association was organized April 1, 1872, under the laws of the state. Its certificate places the management in the hands of a board of trustees, elected annually by the lot owners, who have the power to make assessments and procure funds for the maintenance of the grounds in good condition. The land, consisting of ten acres, was purchased from Levi and Caroline Blossom by D. Adler, Henry Friend, and A. F. Leopold, and was devoted exclusively to the use of the Israelities. The original officers were: D. Adler, President; H. Friend, Vice President; Henry Bonns, Treasurer; J. Nathanson, Secretary. The present officers are the same, with the exception of Elias Friend, who is Vice President and H. M. Oberndorfer, Secretary. The Board of Trustees are: D.Adler, Elias Friend, Henry Bonns, A.F. Leopold, Ph. Carpeles, J.B.Schram, H.M. Benjamin, L. Newbouer, J. Nathanson. The first interments were the bodies of Nathan Engelmann and family. From April 1, 1872, up to April, 1880, they numbered 152. Deeds are given to lot purchasers, subject to the rules and regulations of the association. The expenses are met by each lot being assessed $3 per year. Among the prominent persons buried here are Henry Friend and wife, who went down in the steamer "Schiller;" and Edward Adler, son of David Adler, who after receiving the highest educational honors from European universities, was stricken with brain fever. The total cost of the buildings, improvements, etc., is upward of $10,000.