Visiting Calvary Cemetery

Today the weather was so amazing that I could no longer put off a small project I have long wanted to embark on: finding family gravestones at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

As I’ve been building my family tree (primarily the Becker branch), I have accumulated tons of dates.

Sometimes the easiest milestones in a 20th century American’s life to date are their death and burial, because of newspapers and their obituary pages, death certificates, and burial permits. Some of these records can be searched and found online. Many more of them can be found on microfilm at the library.

Anyway, while I have collected many dates, obituaries and documents, something I have not done much of is visiting the cemetery. I did go once before to Mount Hope Cemetery in south St. Louis County to look for some Kaminskis. On that trip I took Jadzia with me. She was game for it, but got tired after a while.

Today, I took Ludi to Calvary Cemetery, which is the biggest Catholic cemetery in St. Louis.

We went looking for some of my Becker ancestors. I put together a list of various ancestors along with their burial sections and plots, using a very handy online database here

The first grave marker we found was that of Rose Carpenter (nee Becker) who died in 1924. Though the marker has only her name, she is not buried alone. Also resting there are her mother Dora Becker (nee Neubauer, d. 1893), her husband Henry Carpenter (d. 1903), her brother Henry Becker (d. 1907), and her father William Becker (d. 1908).

William and Dora Becker are my G-G-G-G-grandparents. They are the original Beckers in my family tree who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. The lived briefly in Louisville, Kentucky before settling in St. Louis.

The next marker we found was that of the Kempers. Buried there are Joseph and Dorothy Kemper (nee Becker), as well as Dorothy’s mother Anna Becker (nee Lutz). Dorothy’s name is not on the stone, but she was buried there in 2001.

Dorothy was the sister of the man I grew up calling “Grandpa Becker” (actually my great-grandfather): Frank Becker. So Anna was his mother. That makes Anna my G-G-grandmother.

After finding Anna, we found the marker for her husband William G. Becker, who died 35 years before she did, in 1936. Strangely, the stone has a place for her name, but she ended up being buried in the Kemper plot.

The last marker we found was for the Brinkmanns — Katharina (d. 1890) and Herman (d. 1893) — and I was very pleased to have found it. It was in a section of the cemetery that has very few stones, though thousands of people are buried there. It was in an out of the way corner, and in decent shape for such an old marker, though some of Katharina’s name had been obscured by earth and grass. The marker is written in German. I’ll have to come back some time and making a rubbing of it to try and have the text translated, although it probably says nothing more than “rest in peace,” etc.

Ludi really enjoyed her time with me, and didn’t complain at all. In fact, the wide open spaces and quiet were right up her alley. She really wanted to run around, but I tried to keep her from doing too much wild running out of respect for the cemetery.

As we were leaving, we found a bunch of geese and ducks at the little lake near the entrance.

About Josh Renaud

I'm the Emperor of the Renaud Empire, which is to say that I'm the husband of a Boliviana and the father of three daughters and one son. When I'm not conquering lands and expanding borders, I'm a newspaper designer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Find me on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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4 Responses to Visiting Calvary Cemetery

  1. Anita says:

    I loved this, Josh-wish I had been with you. There is something so sacred and inspiring about a great,old cemetery. I am saddened that no one took the time to have Aunt Dorothy’s name put on her headstone.

  2. Judi says:

    Great photos and glad you had a chance to do this! A couple of years ago I did my great-grandmother cemetery tour in Oklahoma and SW Missouri and it is so rewarding to find those markers! Right now I’m on a genealogy hunt in NC, and my relatives lived here so long ago nobody knows where they are buried. I know the last counties they lived in, and I’ve looked in every cemetery transcription book I can find, but I’ve concluded that most people buried before 1820 don’t really have grave markers. Once upon a time there may have been a stone, with initials chiseled into it, marking a grave plot on their farm…but by now, there’s nothing to transcribe and since the descendants moved away, no one remains to remember where they are. Good luck as you continue to learn about the Beckers!

  3. Tanja Wolf says:

    The German text on the marker transaltes “Here rest with God our dear parents Herman Brinkman buried ….. Age: 79 Years
    Katharina Brinkman”.
    Wonder why they wrote in German but spelled the names in the americanized ways: Herman Brinkman instead of Hermann Brinkmann

  4. Grandma and Aunt Carol says:

    I would loved to have seen this cemetery Josh! So much to see and reflect on our family.
    I, too,like your mother am sad that Dorothy’s name did not get on the Kemper headstone. It is VERY strange that Anna Becker did not get buried with her husband in the Becker plot. I would love an answer to that one, but don’t think any one is around to ask who might have been in on that decision. Maybe Margaret’s daughter would know?

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