Taking Care of Historic Cemetery

GIRARDVILLE, Pa. -- An old, abandoned cemetery in Schuylkill County is getting a lot of attention one week before Memorial Day.

Col. Patrick Monoghan was a Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who died in 1917. His grave is at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Girardville.

"Over the years, I've adopted taking care of this along with them. Memorial Day is coming up and every year on Memorial Day, we have a ceremony here," said Paul Kowalick of Girardville.

Kowalick is a member of Girardville's Ancient Order of Hibernians, an organization that helps care for the grave.

The problem is the entire cemetery needs the same attention.

The grass is overgrown and many of the tombstones are broken.

"As long as I have been alive, since 1952, the cemetery has been in disarray," said Robert Krick, president of the Girardville Historical Society.

St. Joseph's Cemetery was built in the late 1800s. The last person to be buried there was in the 1950s.

The cemetery was built on the side of a hill.

In 2015, St. Joseph's Church closed and became part of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Ashland.

Parish members said a meeting will be held on May 31 at 6 p.m. to discuss the condition of the cemetery.

Longtime Girardville attorney James Kilker has several of his family members buried in the cemetery.

"I've seen on television where old cemeteries were renewed and actually became more like parks where people could go up there. Now that's a pretty steep hill, so I don't know how possible that would be," Kilker said.

Members of the Girardville Historical Society say there are many other veterans buried at the cemetery including ones from the Spanish-American War and both World Wars.

Kowaleck says he will continue his work to fix up the plots.

"God bless them. They're our veterans. We wouldn't be here without all the veterans. It's just a shame to have someone like him up here in a bad area, but he'll never be abandoned. I'll take care of him, and I'm sure there's people behind me that's going to take care of him," said Kowaleck.

1 Comment

  • donamick

    I live right by a cemetery on john ave in scranton. Does a cemetery need to be considered historic for it to be maintained?
    This poor cemetery and the people who are buried have been neglected since i can remember. It is overgrown and most of its marker and headstones are broken and in complete disarray. It breaks my heart that this cemetery gets no care.

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