Updated:16 October 2004

St. Mary's of the Assumption R. C. Cemetery

St. Mary's On The Hill (St. Mary's of The Assumption)
1 St. Mary's Hill, Lancaster, NY 14086-2094
(716) 683-6445

"Inscriptions on the remaining tombstones in the older burial grounds
of St. Mary's of the Assumption (St. Mary's on the Hill), Lancaster, New York."

History: Earliest Church records from St. Mary's Church are dated. appox. 1847...shortly after this name of this community was changed from Cayuga Creek Settlement.

It is assumed the burials in this cemetery began coinciding with the establishment of this church; however one or two graves were found indicating burials prior to that time.

Records: No burial records remain for the original section. Church records, showing baptisms, Marriages and Funeral masses, written in Latin/or German, have been microfilmed, and are available for viewing, upon appointment, at Canisius College Archive on Main Street in Buffalo.Time span covered is approx. 1847 through 1912.....

Conditions of Cemetery: While age has certainly taken it's toll, as can be expected, vandalism has been an even greater enemy of this original burial area. And of the remaining tombstones, Only about 60% of the burials still have markers. And of the remaining tombstones, about a third have been destroyed or severely damaged by vandals. Most of the wooden and iron crosses that I remember as a young boy have long since disappeared. Many monuments have fallen. face first, into the ground. And many that are still standing are total unreadable.

Directions: Turn onto St. Joseph Street from Central Avenue in the village; continue to the end (about two blocks) into the Church area and the cemetery. St. Mary's on the Hill Church is located at 142 Laverack Ave., you can enter the cemetery from the church parking lot.

During July 2003, I walked this old section and recorded the tombstone inscriptions that were still readable.

This list does not include those sections at the eastern end of the cemetery (with burials throughout the 20th century), nor does it include the "new section" to the west of the church and cemetery, with burials from approx. 1955 to the present time...

Names, dates, etc., of 900 remaining legible tombstones

One of the problems with this cemetery is the great amount of unmarked graves, and/or illegible tombstones. Anyone using this list should remember that simply not finding the name does not necessarily mean the person is not buried there.

Signed: Walter J. Hastrich < codge29_AT_yahoo.com >

Unless otherwise noted all listings are tombstone readings, and the information has not been provided by any official cemetery source. It is offered here as a tool to promote further research, and should not be considered as verified proof for genealogical records.This information is to be used as a reference, please check with the source for conformation. Readings have been doubled checked, but mistakes are possible.

Check St. Mary's War Veterans

Additional listings: St. Mary's of the Assumption Cemetery ~ Brian J. Smith

St. Mary's Church, Lancaster
The first settler (1808) in the present village of Lancaster had a typical Irish Catholic name, Edward Kearney. It was not until the stage began running between Buffalo and Batavia, in 1826, that prospective settlers were attracted to this region. With the influx of the Alsatians and Germans in 1828, and the following years, the accessible farming towns of Erie County received their first boom in population. The Rev. N. Mertz visited Lancaster about the time he was building the little log structure, which was the first Catholic Church in Buffalo. When the Catholics here needed the services of a priest they would journey to Buffalo, where the kindly old pastor of St. Louis was ready to heed their call. The Rev. A. Pax also came a few times to administer the sacraments to the people in Lancaster.
In 1834, the Catholic settlers put up a barn-like structure of logs, which would serve for a church, in the hope that a priest might come that way sometimes and say Mass for them. These faithful Catholics tramped all the way to Buffalo to hear Mass on Sundays. The Rev. John Neumann was the first priest to regularly visit the Catholics at Lancaster. He visited Lancaster for the first time, July 18, 1836, to administer the sacraments to a person who was very ill.
He said Mass the next morning in the little rude structure, and preached a sermon on the humility of Jesus, who deigned to come to this humble hut as He once did to the stable at Bethlehem. The incomplete, roofless hut at Lancaster, to which Jesus deigned to come through the Mass, was so similar to the rude shelter in which the Savior was born that the saintly priest was visibly affected by the resemblance.
From Williamsville Father Neumann tramped over the rough roads once a month to say Mass for his little flock at Lancaster. After the departure of Father Neumann the little congregation was visited occasionally by his successors at Williamsville, the Rev. Theodore Noethen and the Rev. L. Schneider.
Father Noethen dwelt some time at Lancaster, and he is considered its first resident priest. The Rev. P. Kramer had charge and resided with one of the parishioners. A misunderstanding arose and he resigned. The construction and subsequent operation of the Erie Railroad brought business and residents to Lancaster. It was incorporated as a village in 1849, and more factories were established this year, which gave an impetus to its growth. The influx of people necessitated more ample accommodations in the church. Many were in favor of enlarging the little church, but wiser counsels prevailed, and they decided to erect a new building. The new church was begun by Father Schmitt, the Redemptorist, but it was not finished until the Rev. Serge Schoulepnikoff came in 1850. The Rev. F.N. Uhrich had charge from January, 1852, to November, 1853, when Father Serge returned. Father Serge built the new church over the little frame building.
The parishioners aided, by gratuitously drawing the material to the ground.
There was a little settlement of Catholics near Elma in those days; so Mr. Freiburger erected a little chapel on his farm, in which the priest from
Lancaster occasionally said Mass.The Rev. F. N. Sester was appointed pastor in October, 1856, and remained three years; then Rev. Father Klein had charge one year, when Father Zawistowski was pastor until the Rev. H. Feldman came in December, 1862. Former pastors had boarded with some friendly family,
or had kept bachelor's hall in the rear room of the little frame school building; but Father Feldman immediately erected a small parsonage, beside the new brick church. Father Sester returned in 1867, and for more than a quarter of a century he labored faithfully for the interests of his people. He was genial and charitable, and a man of good judgment. He was a thorough musician; and his people loved to hear his trained voice chanting the music of the church; and the priests of the diocese were pleased to follow his inspiring tones when he presided at the organ during their retreats. His great pride was the cemetery, which he graded and decorated with shrubbery and trees. The cemetery land formerly belonged to the brothers in charge of the reformatory school, and was bought by Father Sester from Bishop Timon, after the school was transferred to Limestone Hill.
Father Sester resigned the parish in 1891, and the Rev. A. Frey had charge until the Rev. V. Scheffels was appointed rector in March, 1892.
Six years later Father Scheffels resigned, and the Rev. A. Ruffing had charge until the Rev J. V. Schaus was appointed, the last day of November. In 1906 Father Schaus built a fine new school in which a high school course is taught. Father Schaus died January 6, 1929.
History of the Diocese of Buffalo (Buffalo, New York: The Buffalo Catholic Publication Co., Inc., 1929),
Rev. Thomas Donohue, D.D., p. 305-307.


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