I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, June 9, 2017
St Ignatius Cemetery in West Baden, Indiana
The summer of 1929 was uneventful for the most part, but
the date October 24, 1929 would be remembered for years to come. That’s the day
the Wall Street Stock Market crashed. Word spread quickly throughout West Baden
Springs Hotel. Within hours, panicked guest were checking out. The mass exodus
continued for four days until everyone was gone; the life had literally been
drained from the hotel.
West Baden Springs Hotel
Hotel owner Ed Ballard hoped the crash would be
short-lived but as it drug on into the 1930s, Ballard realized that it was the
end of an era for his beloved hotel. In 1934, after numerous attempts to find a
buyer for the business, he sold the $7 million grand dame for $1 to the Society
of Jesus - the Jesuits. Thus began thirty years in the hotel’s history as a
Jesuit Brothers at West Baden
West Baden College became an affiliate of Loyola
University in Chicago where priests, brothers and students were sent to train
and teach. These Jesuits immediately removed or covered most of the hotel’s lavish
furnishings and decorations to fit with their belief in simplicity. Anything that was considered too extravagant by this austere
order was hidden from sight (but thankfully stored, and therefore preserved.)
Even the regaled mineral springs were capped with concrete and turned into
shrines for saints after tons of stone were dumped down into them.
Path to St Ignatius
During their thirty years there, the Jesuits established a small
cemetery in which to bury those priests who died while serving here. The first
burial was for Eduardus J. McDonald, Scholasticus, and took place on August 26,
The last burial was for Warner Richard Kerzmann, the first
director of Northwood College, the institution that took over the structure
from the Jesuits in 1966. Kerzmann was granted approval to be buried here in
1979 because of his deep ties to Northwood College.
Those Buried at St Ignatius
In all, a total of 39 priests have been buried here over
the years. In fact, Jesuits may still request to be buried in St. Ignatius
The seminary was closed in 1964 due to low enrollment and
the high cost of keeping the building up. In 1966, Northwood College took over
the structure, but the Jesuits retained ownership of St Ignatius Cemetery.
The cemetery is located to the west of West Baden Springs
Hotel in West Baden, Indiana. It may be visited by climbing a shrub-lined
pathway of stairs which lead to the top of a hill. There you will find a large
white cross with 39 marked graves; this is St Ignatius Cemetery, known
locally as the Jesuit’s Cemetery.