Category Archives: St. Adalbert’s Cemetery

A Polish Catholic cemetery right next to the much larger South Side Cemetery, St. Adalbert’s has one grand mausoleum and a large number of interesting smaller monuments with Polish inscriptions. The southern edge slopes down into an unexpected enchanted forest of beautiful trees and evocative gravestones.

Wiktoria Bernatowicz Tombstone, St. Adalbert Cemetery

A Lithuanian tombstone in a good state of preservation. European immigrants tended to bring with them their memories of what a gravestone should look like, so we find very different styles in different ethnic groups. This is a common East European style. The East European tombstones here were often decorated in very shallow relief, much of which has vanished in a century or so of erosion; but this crucifix is still visible in outline, though the details are lost.

With the help of Google Translate, here is the inscription:

BORN 1860


Iron Crucifix, St. Adalbert’s Cemetery

We have met a very similar iron crucifix in St. Peter’s Cemetery (Arlington), and it had the same problem: the letters fall off as they rust. Here we have no adjacent monument to give us the name, so Father Pitt has no way to fill in B–D-NS. If anyone familiar with Polish names has a guess, please leave a comment.

Rustic Crucifix, St. Adalbert’s Cemetery

It is very frustrating to Father Pitt to be almost but not quite able to read the inscription on this monument. The fact that it is in Polish does not make matters easier; the fact that, while it uses the Latin alphabet, there are letters that seem to be a backwards N (like a Cyrillic И) makes it even more puzzling; but beyond those difficulties, there seem to be too many letters that are not legible at all. Perhaps they would show up in a different light.

The monument itself is striking: a crucifix in the romantic style of a rustic stump.

Here is the inscription, so that anyone who has better eyes than old Pa Pitt’s may attempt to read it, and perhaps leave a comment with a suggested interpretation:

Unidentified Woman, St. Adalbert’s Cemetery

Father Pitt cannot read the inscription, which has been almost obliterated; but although we do not know her name, we know exactly what this unidentified Polish woman looked like, because, under a thick crystal, a small photograph of her as a bride is embedded in the stone. There was probably a statue on top of the stone, but nothing remains of it.

Woodland Section, St. Adalbert’s Cemetery

Most of St. Adalbert’s is open grass with monuments, which is what the people who maintain cemeteries prefer. (Actually, they much prefer it without the monuments, which is why most cemeteries today allow only flush markers that can be mowed over with huge machines.) But one small section on the southern edge of the cemetery slopes down a delightful wooded hillside. It is maintained well enough to keep the jungle away from the monuments, but left natural enough to be indescribably picturesque.