There are probably many cemeteries named St. Patrick’s cemetery. This blog focuses on the one that is located in Arroyo Grande, California. It is a small cemetery that is in need of restoration. The question was – who would be able to provide it?
The St. Patrick’s cemetery can be seen by those who drive north on the 101 through Arroyo Grande. It is small and in need of restoration. Over the years, it has been neglected and vandalized. Originally, though, this little cemetery was where the founding fathers of the area were buried.
The land the cemetery sits on was once owned by a man named John Michael Price. He was a Central Coast pioneer developer who founded the town of Pismo Beach, California. Price sold this land to the Archdiocese of Monterey in the late 1880’s specifically so the church could use it as a cemetery. The land was sold for one dollar.
More specifically, John Michael Price sold the land to Francis Mora who was the Bishop of Monterrey and Los Angeles Band. The sale took place on August 13, 1887. It has been said that John Michael Price saw the land as a place where he would like to be buried. It had a nice view.
One of the pioneers who was buried in the St. Patrick’s cemetery was John Michael Price, who died in 1902. There are a total of around 220 people who have been buried there. Most were interred between the late 1880’s and the early 1920’s.
The last burial in St. Patrick’s cemetery occurred in 1981. A woman named Kate (or Katherine) Chapek, who died January 30, 1981, was the last person laid to rest in St. Patrick’s cemetery. Her maiden name was Huebner. Kate’s husband, Matt Chapek, was also buried there. He died the same day she did.
The Santa Maria Times has a helpful list for genealogists who want to know who was buried in St. Patrick’s cemetery. Most of the information includes full name, date of birth, and date of death. In some cases, there is also information about the age of the person and what the cause of death was. Some of the people buried there came from Portugal, the Azores, Bohemia, Mexico, Ireland (County Cork), Switzerland, and, of course, Arroyo Grande California.
A Facebook page was created to encourage the church to save St. Patrick’s cemetery. The church has started the work by repairing about 15 to 20 headstones and monuments that have been toppled or broken. There is a plan in place to improve the overall appearance of the grounds and soil. Eventually, the small St. Patrick’s cemetery will be a place people can visit and learn about the pioneers of the area.
Image by Tom Hilton on Flickr.
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