The Irish Herald – June 2011
Long Abandoned Irish Cemetery To Be Restored
Helen Moore, President of the Irish Cultural Society of Stanislaus County proudly announced that on May 21, 2011, her membership would be participating in this years Irish Hunger commemoration, by cleaning up an abandoned Irish immigrants cemetery. Saint Joseph’s cemetery is virtually covered over with weeds and many of the grave stones are damaged or missing completely.
The cemetery is located on the Stockton-Sonora Road. Twenty-Six Mile House was the name of the tiny community. The first settlers there were two Irishman named Dillon and Dooley. The two built a barn and maintained a change station for horses for the Kelly and Reynolds stage line. Later Dooley operated a four-horse stage line from Stockton to Knights Ferry.
By 1870 the little settlement reached its peak. It was granted a post office on May 2, 1870. James Nolan, native of Ireland was its first postmaster. Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church was built in 1886 on land donated by Nolan.
The settlement at Twenty-Six Mile House lasted until the 1890’s. The church was the last remaining building until it was torn down years later. The little cemetery that filled up around the church is all that remains today. This lonely little burial ground is the final resting place for many of the Irish pioneers of that region. Brennan, Hennessy, Fitzgerald, Nolan and Kelly are just a few of the family names throughout the cemetery.
George Trainor of the Irish American Unity Conference was invited by the ICSSC to visit Saint Joseph’s cemetery. “I have tremendous respect for the membership of the Irish Cultural Society of Stanislaus County and what they are trying to accomplish here. What better way could we commemorate The Irish Hunger then to honor the final resting place of Irish immigrants. The majority who were forced to flee Ireland.” Trainor commented.
ICSSC member Vicky Wolff stated “After the cemetery has been cleaned up, a piper, out of respect of those people buried at Saint Joseph’s cemetery will pipe to them, and flowers will be put on their graves.”