Westford Township, Richland County, Wisconsin
Tales The Tombstones
Tell - Republican Observer - August 21, 1958
St. Bridget's Cemetery
There is an old burying ground, still in use, in the
town of Westford wherein many of the pioneers of that area have been
laid away for many a year, but the memory of them still lives in the
minds and hearts of their sons, daughters or grandchildren.
A church once stood within the cemetery but it is
not there now, having been torn down during the year of 1956. The
church, St. Bridget's, was organized over 100 years ago, Father Sthale
was the first priest and it was he who formed the first congregation.
The meetings were held in homes at first but in 1856 a log church
building was started and finished the following year.
The log church was in use until 1881 when a frame
building was completed and dedication service held in September of that
year. Father John B. Metzler was the first priest to hold mass in this
building. It continued in use until just a few years ago when services
there were discontinued and in 1956 it was torn down. Earl Pauls, whose
farm adjoins the church yard, bought the building and while tearing it
down suffered a fall from the belfry which resulted in painful injury.
St. Bridget's cemetery is a part of the churchyard.
The first burial there was in early 1856, when Dennis Murphy was laid
to rest. The land for the church and cemetery, five acres, were donated
by John Donohoe. It was platted in 1863 and dedicated a few years later
by Father Benard.
A stone in the cemetery marks the graves of Mr. and
Mrs. Murphy. The inscription for Mr. Murphy reads:
Murphy, Native of Parish Karmdly,
of Fermanagh, Ireland,
Died March 20, 1856, Aged 75 Years"
This would bring his birth date to 1781.
The inscription for Mrs. Murphy reads
died July 15, 1856, aged 60"
There are many stones which bear names of those who
have been laid to rest in this century old cemetery. Kitson, Harrison,
Maher, Grimes, Connors, Conley, Berberich, Drea, Rego, Kelley,
Dietelhoff, Quinn, Herlihy, Poole and Stearns, are just a few of them.
Others include Timlin, Harrington, Lyden, Roach, Cruice, Dwyer,
Muldowney, Doyle, Fitzgerald, Neary, Ryan, Shea, Sheahan, Carroll,
Quirk and Peterson.
John Donahoe, who donated the land for the church
and cemetery, was a native of Ireland, born in 1818. He came to America
in 1845, landing at Boston. The next year he went to New Orleans and
there married Mary Murphy, a native Fermanagh, Ireland, the marriage
taking place in 1849. In 1852 they moved to Ohio and in 1855 to the
town of Westford, Richland county. Mr. Donahoe served in the 3rd
Wisconsin Cavalry Co. F from Nov. 11, 1861, until Feb. 17, 1865, and
participated in many battles of the Civil War. It is safe to assume
that Mary Murphy, who became the wife of Mr. Donahoe, was a daughter of
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Murphy, though we have no proof that such is a
fact. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were the first to be buried in this cemetery
and they and Mrs. Donahoe came from the same county, Fermanagh,
Ireland. Mr. Donahoe, was a native of county Cavan. He was at one time
chairman of the town of Westford. One of their five children was named
Dennis, perhaps after his grandfather, Dennis Murphy.
A Civil War veteran, Patrick H. McCarthy, is here
buried, together with members of his family. Mr. McCarthy was born in
Canada in 1846 and died September 23, 1895, at the age of 49 years, 9
months and 18 days. He came to the United States in 1846 and when he
was seven years old they came to Richland county, town of Richland and
in 1855 to the town of Henrietta. In 1867 he married Catharine Drea,
who was born in 1852 and died in 1934. On the same lot are stones
bearing the names of some
of their children, Nellie, William B., Mary A. and Josephine.
Nearby is a marker for Capt. C. McCarthy, born in 1818 and died in
1879. He was a member of Co. D 11th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.
Also there is a marker for Daniel McCarthy, born in
County Cork, Ireland. He died May 11, 1907, aged 75 years. Elizabeth,
his wife, a native of Dublin, Ireland, buried at his side.
Michael Harrison, World War I soldier has a marker
on his grave which reads:
Pvt. U. S. Army
World War I
May 27, 1890 - March 17, 1955"
Other Members of the Harrison family are in this
cemetery. One of these, Dominic Harrison, was among the folks who came
from the Emerald Isle to make a home in the New World. His tombstone
Harrison, born in the Parish of Augtamore,
Mayo, Ireland, the year 1823, imigrated to
year 1846, went to California 1851,
February 12, 1900"
On another stone in the same lot it reads as follows:
Jax, born in Madison, Wis., 1857, Died
1899, aged 42 years."
And following that is a line, speaking of the
monument, saying it was erected by her uncle, Dominic Harrison.
A majority of the folks buried in this cemetery are
Irish people and on a stone a truly Irish name appears.
On the reverse side appears the name of Arthur
O'Leary, who died January 1887.
A line engraved upon the stone for Bridget and
Arthur, says it was "erected by Rev. John B. Metzler." Father
Metzler was the first to hold mass in the church which was torn down in
1956 and it was through his efforts that the church building was
erected. Now Bridget O'Leary, Father Metzler and the church building
are but memories.
George Meehan is another Civil War veteran who found
rest here. Mr. Meehan was born in County Meath, Ireland, in May 1832,
and died January 8, 1916. In 1845 the family came to America and landed
a few years later in the town of Henrietta, Richland county. He
enlisted in Co. A 52nd Wisconsin Infantry.
His wife was also a native of Ireland. She was,
before her marriage, Mary Byrne, born March 1, 1836 and died January 4,
1912. Mr. and Mrs. Meehan resided on Soules Creek for many years.
Stones for John Meehan, born in 1869 and Jennie, born in 1871, are
close by. John died in 1941 and Jennie in 1934.
There is a stone in the burying ground for Ann
Cullen. It reads that she was born May 9, 1822, and died March 10,
1892. Nothing else appears upon the marker.
There are a number of the Roach family in St.
Bridget's cemetery. Thomas Roach, who died April 24, 1910, was one of
them. He was 81 years of age. Ann Roach, who died October 2, 1917, at
the age of 73. Hanna Roach, born in Mayo county, Ireland, died in
September 1867, at the age of 43. It reads on the marker that she was
the wife of Thomas Roach. William Roach, born in 1822, and died in
1866, and Rose, born in 1826, and died in 1899, are all buried close by
Harrison, born August 5, 1816, at Trout Hill,
of Mayo, Parish of Killbough, Ireland,
immigrated to America and landed in New York,
1844. Died August 5, 1888, aged 72 years,
months and 21 days."
That is the brief history of his life, which
now becomes a part of "The Tales the Tombstones Tell."
A number of markers are upon the lot of William and
Elizabeth Ford. William, the marker says, was born in 1826 and died in
1897; and Elizabeth, born in 1835, passed on in 1883. A stone for
Sarah, born 1802 and died in 1877, bears the loving, cherished name,
Other markers are for John, born in 1867 and died in
1888. There are also markers for other members of the family, named, no
doubt for mother, Elizabeth, and grandmother, Sarah. Elizabeth was born
in 1862 and died in 1937; Sarah, born in 1861, died in 1916.
The McGlynns are represented in the cemetery by a
number of the family. Thomas and Bridget McGlynn, are two. Bridget died
on September 13, 1892, at the age of 79. James and Sarah McGlynn and
some of their children are not far apart. Thomas died in 1897 at the
age of 84. On the stone it reads that Henry, died in 1881 at the age of
two, Mary died in 1887 at the age of three, and Margaret in 1895 at the
age of four months. These, the marker reads, were the children of James
and Sarah McGlynn.
Two, from Ireland, are among the early born, Thomas
Connors and Bridget, his wife are here. He was a native of County
Wexford, died on March 22, 1903 at the age of 72, while his wife, born
in County Carlow, died July 30, 1918, at the age of 84. Michael Ryan
and Bridget Ryan, his wife, lived long lives. He was born in Wexford,
Ireland, June 24, 1822, and died in 1900 at the age of 77 years, 8
months and 14 days. His wife, also born in Ireland, first saw the light
of day on February 2, 1833, and died July 9, 1905, at the age of 72
years and five months.
Four young men of the World Wars have been laid to
rest in this century old burying ground. Killed in action was Pvt.
William Shea, Co. L 356 Inft., 89 Division, born in 1891 and died in
1918. John M. Connors, Pvt. ICL Quartermaster Corps, died August 1,
Two simple markers are for Hubert and John McNamara,
brothers, who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I. They died on a
battle field in France in 1918; both killed in the same battle, we
believe. The Cazenovia American Legion Post bears the name
McNamara-Jasper, in honor of the two brothers and a soldier who was in
service in World War II.
Michael Ryan is another who sought a new home in
America. He was born in Wexford, Ireland, June 24, 1822, coming to
America at an early date. He lived to the age of 77 years, 8 months and
14 days. His wife, Bridget, also a native of Wexford, was born February
2, 1833, and died July 9, 1905, at the age of 72 years and five months.
Bridget appears to have been a favorite given name for many of the
women buried in this cemetery, and indicates that Bridget was also a
favorite of those who came from Ireland. It is an old fashioned name,
but a pretty one nevertheless.
The cemetery has been in use for over 100 years and
may still be in use one hundred years hence.
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