A Peaceful Place
In the mid to late 1800’s, many of the parishes of Grand Rapids were divided by ethnicity. The first German parish was St. Mary’s at 423 First Street, N.W. In May of 1882, the pastor of the church, Fr. Johannes Ehrenstrasser purchased 17 acres of land at the corner of Leonard & Walker with the intention of having it as his retirement home. At the time of purchase, he gave a small portion of the land to the church to use as a cemetery. When he passed away in December of 1886, his will stated that the rest of the land was to be given to St. Mary’s as their cemetery.
The cemetery is large and contains many big trees, adding to its beauty. Within the cemetery are two sections for the Sisters of Mercy and Little Mt. Calvary used by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
At the time, the cemetery was predominantly German but a small section was used for those of Polish and Eastern European descent since they did not have their own cemetery yet.