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E. Brennan, Photographer

Ruins of the XII Century Seipeil a' Chairrgin, The Chapel of Cargin

For more information about this ancient chapel and current efforts to preserve it, visit

The Chapel at Cargin

Researchers are very much encouraged to verify data by checking original sources or microfilm copies.  Please send comments or errors detected to Joseph M. Lalley, Jr.


1795-1834 Register for the Early Church in Wilmington

Among the records found in the 1796-1834 Register for the early Church in Wilmington are the sacramental and burial records for the French-speaking refugees from the French Revolution and the Slave Rebellion in the French colony of St. Domingue (present Haiti). Both the images of the originals and an English translation may be examined at A Glimpse of the French Refugees in Wilmington in the 1790s.

The title page of this register contains a brief Memorandum written by Rev. Patrick Kenny, Pastor of St. Peter Church, Wilmington, DE concerning the relatives of Rev. McGuire, a priest from the Diocese of Quebec, Canada and a separate note listing their burial records. These may be examined at Early Church Burials along with three additional burial records found on the flyleaf of this register.

St. Peter Church Yard Burials

St. Peter Church, built in 1816 on West Street between 5th and 6th Streets in downtown Wilmington, was designated the pro-cathedral in 1868. A sexton's record of burials in the churchyard with entries from 7 July 1840 to 17 August 1851 is available on Family History Library microfilm 1787873, and is scheduled to be transcribed for this site.

Old Catholic Cemetery [1]

St. John Neumann, Bishop of Philadelphia, purchased the land for this cemetery in 1852 after the churchyard cemetery of St. Peter had no more grave sites available. It served the entire Catholic community in the city, including the parishes of St. Peter, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception after 1858, St. Paul, Wilmington after 1868, and after 1870 St. James  -- now known as St. Ann.

Located at 12th and Madison Streets, it has been called by several names. Initially and officially designated as the “Catholic Cemetery,” it was also called unofficially “Old Cathedral” and occasionally “St. James Cemetery.” After Cathedral Cemetery opened in 1876, the old cemetery in 1886 was officially renamed "St. Mary's Cemetery" but that name never came into general use.

In the belief that most remains had been removed to other cemeteries, the long-unused property was sold in 1953 for use as a hospital parking lot. In 1998 the hospital decided to build on the site but immediately encountered human remains. Since no records were available, state law required that all remains be recovered by professional archeologists and attempts made to identify them. While this work was in progress, Cathedral Cemetery staff discovered several books of the old cemetery’s records—stubs for lot deeds 1862-1875, and cash journals covering the years 1859-1870 and 1878-1897.  They record the cemetery’s name change to St. Mary’s in 1886, and payments for almost 300 lot sales and 1,992 burials, giving names for about two-thirds of the more than 3,000 people now known to have been originally buried there.  Researchers who visit our site now have access to the records contained in three journals.

All the remains -- some 3.300 -- were removed by archeologist about ten years ago and have since been reinterred in a plot at All Saints Cemetery on Kirkwood Highway (Delaware Route 2) between Wilmington and Newark.  A memorial incorporating a large celtic cross and eight old grave stones, was dedicated on Memorial Day 2006. 

Three of those markers are for the mother, sister and brother-in-law of Father Patrick Reilly, pastor in turn at St. Peter and St. Mary, founder and president of St. Mary's College which operated in Wilmington from about 1847 to 1867, and the first vicar general of the Diocese of Wilmington.   He is buried in the "priests' circle" at the Cathedral Cemetery. 

The only other individual stone is a new veterans' marker for Civil War Medal of Honor winner Bernard McCarren.  The other stones are in storage and not available for inspection, but individual photographs were made as part of the archeological recovery project.  They are available for reference at the State Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

As part of the recovery, the original lot numbering scheme was reconstructed and many individual lots or graves were identified with their owners. Two lot plans, filmed in sections, appear on Family History Library microfilm 2367969. One, in 13 sections, shows surnames that could be identified with individual lots. The other, in 15 sections, shows the number and location of each "archeological feature" (individual remains with associated artifacts) as recorded and described in the records deposited by the archeological consulting firm with the state division. All of the artifacts were also reburied at the new cemetery.

The old cemetery site now the holds an outpatient surgical center with associated parking, part of Christiana Care, a regional medical center There are plans in the works to place a state historic marker there to commemorate its earlier use.

 Cathedral Cemetery

The Cathedral Cemetery, located at 2400 Lancaster Avenue, opened in 1876. It was sometimes popularly called "new Cathedral" to distinguish it from the old cemetery at 12th and Madison Street, from which remains have since been relocated to All saints Cemetery. It was called "Old Cathedral" in the Tatnall Tombstone Survey. The records on our web site are transcriptions of the Tatnall Tombstone records. See below. 

The current Cathedral Cemetery database is now on-line at

One may also access the records of the All Saints Cemetery that opened in 1958 are also at the above web site.

Wilmington City Death Registers

Death registration was not required statewide until 1913, but the City of Wilmington registered them starting in 1847, with annual indexes from 1859, and occasional deaths from nearby areas may be recorded. Registers are available on microfilm at the Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware and the Historical Society of Delaware, Wilmington. Images from these microfilms have available through the subscription service, which has indexed them, since January 2010. 

Tatnall Tombstone Records

The Tatnall Tombstone Survey was made in the 1920s.  The typescript original is in the Delaware Public Archives. The entire survey, covering all three counties of Delaware, is also available on FHL Microfilm 0006303.

Our web site has the Tatnall Tombstone records for four of these cemeteries:

DuPont Cemetery [DP]

Old Catholic [OC],

New Cathedral Cemetery [NC]

St. Paul Church Cemetery, Delaware City [DC]

Each is identified separately in the database by the initials shown above in brackets. 

WPA Inventory of Old Catholic and DuPont Cemeteries

Prepared by the Division of Women and Professional Projects of the Works Progress Administration [WPA], The Inventory of the Tombstones in the Old Catholic Cemetery, 12th and Madison Streets, Wilmington, Delaware was completed in 1938.

Our transcriptions of the Old Catholic Cemetery records have listed family relationships and birthplaces when given but omitted poetry and other similar inscriptions found on gravestones. Researchers will find a number of disparities between entries in the Tatnall and WPA inventories for the Old Catholic Cemetery. They should be especially alert for differences in the reported dates of birth and death and should verify from other sources correct dates.  Most of the discrepancies arise from: (1) difficult to read tombstones, old stones lost, or partially or fully buried in the ground in that interval, (2) different criteria for the two surveys (inclusion of birthplace, poetry and other information), and (3) human fallibility.


  St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church

In 2004, the Old Cemetery Committee prepared an index to the Tatnall Tombstone Survey and the WPA Survey of 1939 for the St. Joseph-on-the-Bandywine Cemetery, referenced to the burial locations using current technology. Since then, several volunteers for this web site have enhanced these records by inserting in italics additional information gleaned by inference from the two surveys.

If, for example, the names of parents of a person buried in a plot are inscribed on the tombstone and if there is no evidence that they are buried in that plot, the names of the parents are now shown in the database for this cemetery. In those instances where the parents are buried in a separate plot in this cemetery, we have inserted the names of their children in italics to show that they are additions to records. Where there are differences between data found in the Tatnall and WPA surveys, we have entered data found in the Tatnall records in the Comment column of the record. Researchers may find these insertions useful.

All who have contributed to the development of our web site are grateful Ann Wattman, Chair of the Old Cemetery Committee, and her colleagues on this committee for compiling the Index to the Tatnall Tombstone and WPA Surveys of St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywinefs Cemetery and for making them available to be accessed our web site.  We know those who visit our web site are as well.


The Cemetery and Church at Coffee Run

A permanent foundation of the Church of Wilmington was made in 1772 when the Rev. Matthias Sittensperger, known as Mr. Manners, then the superior of the Jesuit mission at Bohemia (now Warwick), Cecil County, Md., arranged for the purchase of a 208-acre plantation in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County. Probably because Manners as an alien could not own land, the deed was to the Rev. John Lewis, superior of all the Maryland Jesuits and also Manners's predecessor and successor at Bohemia. It was close to "Cuba Rock," the farm of Con Hollahan, which had been a regular mass-station for the Jesuit priests, and began immediately to be used as a burial ground.

Although located in Mill Creek Hundred near Red Clay Creek, the clergy usually called it the White Clay Creek Plantation, perhaps to avoid undue attention to its actual location. The farm was at the southeast corner of Stenning Manor, the 15,500 acre tract that William Penn had granted to his daughter Letitia Penn Aubrey, and popularly called Letitia Manor.  The "manor line" that bounded her grant on the east, frequently mentioned in area deeds, also formed the farm's eastern boundary. 

After the Pope dissolved the Society of Jesus in 1773, the Rev. Mr. Lewis, the former Jesuit superior, remained in charge, serving from 1773 to 1783 as vicar general for the American colonies under Bishop Richard Challoner, the Vicar Apostolic of London. In 1775 Lewis again took up residence at Bohemia, and his journal shows frequent visits to the station he called Letitia Manor. There on 22 April 1776 he settled for the £58/14/4 cost of completing a tenant house on the farm, undoubtedly with a mass]room or chapel as was the Jesuit custom. He also noted that he christened two children there on the day before.

Later a small log church was also built on the site, and at some point Con Hollahan moved to the priests' farm as the tenant and caretaker for the priest]owners. He died there in 1788, confusing some later writers over the ownership. After the Rev. Patrick Kenny was assigned to the Wilmington parish in 1804, he bought the property in his own name from the incorporated Catholic clergy of Maryland, to whom the former Jesuit properties had passed. [2]

The cemetery located on the property and known as Coffee Run has been closed for many years.  Our database for this cemetery lists only forty-nine records, the earliest dated 2 November 1806; the latest 13 December 1890.  It should be noted, however, that many graves in those times did not have engraved or more permanent markers.

[1] Donn Devine, Archivist, Diocese of Wilmington

[2] Donn Devine, "Beginnings of the Catholic Church of Wilmington, Delaware," Delaware History 28 (Fall-Winter 1999-2000): 326-330.

The Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware has graciously permitted the placement of these and many other records on this web site.


The Delaware Public Archives has granted us permission to place these records in the databases of our web site.  Original and additional records are available at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover, Delaware, the Historical Society of Delaware in Wilmington, Delaware, or on microfilm FHL #0006303, Tatnall Tombstone and Burial Records.

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