The History of Mt. Carmel Cemetery
Mt. Carmel Cemetery, a burial ground primarily serving the Catholic community of Paducah Kentucky and the surrounding counties. This sacred Holy ground was deeded by W.G. Blount, executor of the estate of J.G. Edens, deceased, to Rev. William George McCloskey, Bishop of Louisville, KY in 1873 for $900.00, and is recorded in deed book X, page 58. The purchase was made by Rev. Peter Thomas Meager, O.C.C., Pastor of St. Francis de Sales congregation of Paducah, Kentucky. It’s a beautiful tract of land on a gently sloping hill, part of it heavily wooded.
Shortly after Mt. Carmel was established several bodies were removed from St. John’s cemetery by Mark Lydon, Owen Donnigan, and others. Among those were Rev. Lawrence Brocard Murphy, O.C.C., who died February 11, 1873, Sister Ursula Henderson, who died July 2, 1873, Mrs. Mark Lydon and Antonio Maldifassi.
The main entrance gate was erected in 1930. These gates bear two dates, 1873 the year the cemetery was founded, and 1930, the year the gates were built. Landscaping for the main entrance was completed years later by the donation of labor and materials.
OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL STATUE
A beautiful statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, located beyond the main entrance, in the center of the memorial circle, was unveiled and dedicated Memorial Day 2002. The statue was sculpted in Carrara, Italy and donated by the late Alvin and Carolyn Webb. The statue was scupted from Carrara white marble, taken from the same quarry as the marble used by Michaelangelo to sculpt his famous statues. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel stands 6 feet 6 inches tall on a base that is five feet tall. The base was purchased for $3,800 through donations. The Webb family purchased the statue for $13,600.
THE PRIESTS' CIRCLE
The Priests' Circle is on a crown of the hill and is marked by a beautiful Irish cross, which bears on its base the inscriptions Rev. Peter Thomas Meager, the founder of the cemetery, and the Rev. Lawrence Brocard Murphy.
THE OLD BLACK SECTION
An interesting part of Paducah history is present at Mt. Carmel in the black section. Charles and Jane Roberts, married slaves, were bequeathed to Rev. Elisha J. Durbin by Jack Roberts of Nelson County, KY about 1850. Father Durbin sent them to Fancy Farm, Graves County, to serve the priests of St. Jerome Parish. They acted as household servants and raised farm and garden products for the priest. They were set free by Father Durbin. Five children were born to Charles and Jane Roberts, and they were all reared in the Catholic faith. In 1862 the family moved to Paducah, KY, and placed themselves under the care of Father Michael Power, then pastor of St. Francis de Sales Church. There were no other black Catholics in Paducah at that time. Gregory Roberts, the youngest child of Charles and Jane survived all others in his family and died Nov. 13, 1930 at the age of 73. Charles and Jane Roberts, son Gregory, and an older Roberts son are among those buried in what has become known as the Old Black Section of Mt. Carmel.
Part of the mission of the Board of Directors of Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Inc. is to give recognition to this area of the cemetery as a part of the history of Mt. Carmel and the City of Paducah. It is our sincere desire that we will be in a financial position in the near future to publicly dedicate the area known as The Black Section to the memory of those interred and honor their contributions to our history.
Through the ongoing dedication and efforts of the cemetery board and the friends of Mt. Carmel Cemetery, and individual lot owners, Mt. Carmel cemetery continues to be well preserved to honor the memory of those interred.