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St. Augustine Cemetery — 1891 News

Late in the evening of April 28, 1891, Saint Augustine Cemetery in Bridgeport was the target of vandals. When residents of Bridgeport's east side awoke on Wednesday morning, they found a scene of destruction that shocked the entire community. In addition to being covered by the local newspapers of the day, the crime was also mentioned in the New York Times.

The detail below is from the respective papers as noted and were transcribed as they appeared in single column format.

Saint Augustine Cemetery

Thursday, April 30, 1891
DESPICABLE VANDALISM. ------ Naughty Youths Commit all Sorts of Out- rages in St. Augustine's Cemetery. St. Augustine's cemetery on the borders of Pembroke lake seems to be a favorite spot for a gang of boys who congregate there daily and commit all sorts of vandal- ism. A number of complaints have been made of the gang but nothing appears to have been done by the proper authorities. Tuesday night the gang of youths again visited the place and knocked over head- stones, destroyed the graves and did other damage. One stone in particular was torn from the turf and large pieces were knock- ed out. In all some 25 stones were either defaced or knocked down. News of the desecration spread like wild fire around East Bridgeport yesterday and had any of the women who called at the graveyard been able to find out the guilty ones they would undoubtedly have met with a warm reception.

Friday Evening, May 1, 1891
CRYING FOR VENGEANCE. ------ Lot Owners in St. Augustine Ceme- tery Wrathful at the Desecration of Graves—Scoundrels Who Deserve the Whipping Post if Caught. St. Augustine's Cemetery in East Bridge- port early last evening was the scene of wild excitement caused by the reports of the devastations committed in the ceme- tery by some unknown persons. People were passing bout from one scene of dep- redation to another, condemning the out- rageous actions of the guilty parties. It is estimated that over five hundred people were there and the cries of the la- dies in discovering the headstone of an- other party, tossed on the grave of some dear one, were heartrending. A STANDARD reporter visited the ceme- tery this morning and found the place in a most deplorable condition. On every hand head stones and monuments were over- turned and broken. In some places the iron fences which surround the plots were pulled up and thrown on other graves. A great many of the monuments, while they will be defaced forever, can be replaced and used again. One of the worst cases of destruction noticed in the cemetery is that of Simon McAuliffe. It is one of the largest granite headstones in the cemetery and was re- cently erected at a cost of $250. The top was pried from the base and thrown over on to one of the graves in the plot. It was then smashed in a dozen pieces and totally destroyed. Among broken headstones which the writer noticed in passing hurriedly through the cemetery were Michael Mc- Padden, John Lynch, Patrick Lynch, Pat- rick W. Welch, Richard Downs, Michael Powers, Thomas Reilly, John Jacoby, Jo- seph Strickfus, John H. Foley, James Reilly, James Cowan, Terrance Reilly, Dennis Haggerty, and two on the lot of Thomas M. Reilly. One of these stones was erected 27 years ago. A large number of ladies were in the cemetery this morning and viewed with grief the nefarious work of the scoundrels.

Saturday Evening, May 2, 1891
After the Tombstone Defacers. The police are diligently at work follow- ing every clue that they think may lead to the discovery of the wretches who ruth- lessly destroyed the gravestones in the St. Augustine Cemetery a few days ago. No stone will be left unturned to bring the culprits to justice, as the crime is one of the most inexcusable that has been brought to the attention of the police in years. The cemetery again contained a large crowd to-day, many being attracted to the place by curiosity, and others being pres- ent to repair as well as they could the damage done to relatives' graves. One benefit at least will result to East Bridgeporters by the present investigation, and that is the breaking up of the crowd of wretched characters who made a practice of assembling at the cemetery every day, loafing beneath the trees and passing away the time in drinking and gambling. This crowd includes some of the worst charac- ters in East Bridgeport, and the police think that this gang know more about the vandalism recently perpetrated than it would be safe for them to disclose.

      SATURDAY, MAY 2, 1891

           - - - - -
They Expect to Run Down the Parties, who
Desecrated St. Augustine's Cemetery.

  The St. Augustine cemetery presented a
desolate and sad appearance yesterday af-
ternoon when a representative of the News
visited it.  The work of vandals as first
stated in Thursday's News still remains.
Crowds visited the place all day, some out
of curiosity and others to repair the stones
over some departed member of their fam-
ily. A noticeable incident connected with
the devastating work is that all the stones
with two exceptions have been knocked 
down in such a manner that the inscrip-
tions rest upon the grave.  All are pointed
with the tops towards the east which shows 
that the nefarious workers did not trample
upon the graves but stood behind the stones
and pushed them over.  It is supposed to
have been the work of several parties.
  Officers Arnold and Finn were at work
upon the case yesterday and collected evi-
dence enough that will probably lead to the
arrest of two young men to day.
  A prominent dealer in headstones said
last evening that he should think the work
of knocking down the headstones must have
taken at least seven hours.  Other men who
were present at the graveyard yesterday say
that they could have accomplished the work
in less than an hour.
  One gentelman who resides near the cem-
etery remarked in the presence of a News
reporter last evening that it was a shame
to see the crowd of young men who hang
around there from early morning till late
at night playing cards, swearing and drink-
ing beer.  He said it made no difference to 
them whether it was Sunday or not they
congregated and "rushed the growler."
The day the stones were discovered defaced
and overturned a gang had been seen bask-
ing beneath the sun.  They have not been
there since, thought, and it is a couple of
those who are suspected of the work.  Since
the work has been done loafers will be kept
out of the cemetery. 

        The New York Times
        Sunday, May 3, 1891

            - - - - -

  BRIDGEPORT, May 2.—Great excitement has
been occasioned here by the discovery of one of
the most disgraceful pieces of vandalism ever
known here.  In the centre of the city is St.
Augustine Cemetery.  For a long time there has
been but an occasional burial there, for the space
is nearly all occupied.
  Yesterday the cemetery presented a scene of 
the wildest excitement.  Some time Thursday
night scoundrels entered the cemetery and com-
mitted wholesale desecrations of the graves.  On
every side was evidence of their work.  Head-
stones and monuments were overturned,
and broken.  In some places the iron
fences which surround the burial lots 
were pulled up and thrown on the 
graves.  Handsome monuments were de-
faced.  One large granite monument recently
erected to the memory of Simon McAuliffe was
ruined.  The top was pried from the base and
thrown upon one of the graves and broken into
a dozen pieces.
  Fifty monuments and headstones were thrown
down or defaced.  The cemetery was visited by
hundreds of persons to-day.  Many women were
among the number.  There is no clue to the
perpetrators of the outrage.

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