In a modest grave in section 77 lies a mother of six children who came to this country from Sicily in 1914. She never learned to speak English very well, but she was proud of the duplex house that they owned in the neighborhood. She felt blessed that she lived to see her children grow up to become prosperous citizens.
Down the road are remnants of some old railroad tracks between sections 12 and 14 on the Main Drive. In the early days of the cemetery, mourners could accompany their deceased loved ones to the cemetery via electric funeral train on a streetcar spur that ran adjacent to the cemetery on Broadway Avenue from downtown Cleveland. Horsedrawn carriages would meet the families and take the casket to the final resting place.
These are just some of the stories people may encounter at Calvary Cemetery, located in Cleveland’s busy Union Miles neighborhood. This 330-acre enclave of peaceful and sacred greenspace is one of Cleveland’s oldest and largest Catholic cemeteries — opening in 1893.
To mark its 125th anniversary this year, the cemetery will host a special family-friendly event on Sunday, Sept. 23, aimed at welcoming families back on the grounds to tour, learn, remember, quietly pray or perhaps even shed a tear.
Visitors will be encouraged to take self-guided tours of the historic grounds. The tour highlights areas of interest like Sections 110 and 60, which were opened in 1944 and 1949, respectively, for fallen soldiers from World War II. However, military veterans are interred throughout the grounds.
Other areas may remind visitors of Cleveland’s darker days, especially section 47, which opened in 1918 — the year of the worldwide influenza epidemic. The most destructive pandemic in modern history, it killed 50 million people around the world. According to Calvary's records, 81 victims of the disease were buried on one especially fatal day — the most in one day alone.
The grounds are the final resting place for some of Cleveland’s prominent Catholic industrialists, executives and politicians along with many of the Italian, Irish and Eastern European immigrants who lived in the surrounding neighborhoods.
There are more than 300,000 interments on the sacred Calvary grounds, which Catholics view as an extension
of their parish communities.
The September event at Calvary will run from 1 to 4 p.m. and include snacks, music and family activities — all free
Cleveland Indians player and
Baseball Hall of Fame inductee whose spectacular unassisted triple play
in the 1920 World Series helped bring the Tribe to victory
Sen. Frank Lausche
Served as mayor of Cleveland, governor of Ohio and U.S. senator for Ohio
Well-known radio and television host
The Polka King of Cleveland
Judge Frank J. Battisti
Known for his ruling in the Cleveland school desegregation case in 1976