In 1909 Brother Charles
Camille, assistant master of novices, died from meningitis
after an illness of only three days. Thus the brothers decided
to establish their own cemetery in a small hollow at the south
end of the property and Brother Charles was the first to be
buried there. In 1913 Brother Angelicus, assistant general,
urged the Provincial Council to make this the definitive grave
site and to beautify it.
It was modeled on traditional
cemeteries in rural France. In 1921 it was surrounded by a
white stone wall built by Brother Paul Acyndinus. Each grave,
which was dug by the novices, was marked with a cross monument
displaying biographical information such as date of birth,
death and number of years with vows. As the cemetery expanded,
the rock encountered made the regular use of a jack hammer
necessary. The last grave was filled in 1953, and a larger
cemetery was developed on the Marist Brothers' property in
Esopus, New York.
The photo on the lower
left shows how the cemetery looked for a period of 80 years.
It was not large, containing only 48 graves. The graves were
laid very close to one another with a head stone marking each
In 1960, the college
purchased eight acres south of the cemetery from the New York
Central Railroad. For about a decade the college filled in
the field between the cemetery and the railroad spur which
made the hollow more pronounced. By 1972 the area south of
the cemetery became the obvious choice for a modern field
The first choice was
to move the remains from the Poughkeepsie cemetery to the
one in Esopus. The college attorneys warned that New York
State had strict laws concerning the relocation of graves.
Permission of the heirs had to be obtained, and since the
deceased were never married, the 'heirs' were their siblings
and their descendants. Since most of them had lived in France,
this made relocation of the cemetery virtually impossible.
Brother Nilus Vincent
Donnelly suggested that the cemetery remain in place, but
the ground be filled to the height of the surrounding areas.
He personally laid the individual grave markers over each
grave, then bulldozed the walls inward and began the processing
of adding 20 feet of fill. He noted the exact boundaries of
the cemetery and the college agreed never to build on the
The college purchased
a large single monument listing the names of those buried
in the cemetery and placed it over the cemetery grounds. The
names are also included in a special plaque at the base of
the Calvary scene in the Esopus cemetery.