GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH OF SACRAMENTAL BOOKS
Holy Infancy Parish sacramental records, primarily baptisms and marriages, are preserved in the original sacramental books. There are also very limited records associated with St Michael’s Cemetery. Only records older than 70 years can be accessed for genealogy research. This time period is in accordance with guidelines of Federal Census records, as well as a recommendation of the Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists. In addition, any record relating to an adoption is subject to the privacy rules of Pennsylvania state law.
Genealogy research is done by searching the sacramental books. Only Parish personnel are allowed to search or handle the books which are fragile, and the searches are time consuming. It is essential, therefore, that information provided in the research request be sufficient to enable the researcher to link a family name and members to a time period within Holy Infancy Parish. There is a fee for all genealogical research.
For more information on genealogical research or sacramental records, please contact Holy Infancy by phone at (610) 866-1121, or by mail (Holy Infancy R. C. Church, 312 E. 4th Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015), or by e-mail at email@example.com
St. Michael’s Cemetery Map
Click here to view the map in pdf version
This map is the only historical document we have about burials in St. Michael’s Cemetery. When the cemetery was founded, families staked out plots for themselves and put fences around them. There was no perpetual care by the Church, and the families maintained their own plots. We have first-hand stories of people witnessing middle-of-the-night burials in less than modern conditions, like fruit crates. Some families made their own semi-permanent markers of concrete, iron, or wood.
In the 1930s, William Sinnott attempted to establish some order to St. Michael’s by creating this map. He ordered it by families, or heads of families, using data he found on the ground. The only pertinent records that exist in Holy Infancy Parish are some old funeral records that we can assume were for folks buried in St. Michael’s. They are very incomplete, and are included in the information for St. Michael’s on the free public website, Findagrave.com, now the most complete and up-to-date record of who is in St. Michael’s and where. Transcriptions of the Sinnott map exist in poster form at Holy Infancy Rectory, in the Volunteers’ shed at St. Michael’s, and in an old edition of the South Bethlehem Historical Society Newsletter. Given the difficulty reading this map, it has been subject to misinterpretation; it is also missing many burials in uphill sections.
Over the years, tree growth, severe erosion, and wall failure has resulted in many burials having slid from their original locations. Some stones never had foundations and fell over from natural causes or vandalism. They were covered by sod and were lost until recent times.
In recent years, the Volunteers have been using all available information including newspaper obits, death certificates, and family knowledge to find out who is buried in St. Michael’s. We hope to publish an updated map in the future, but it is a very big job.
Click the link below to read an article about St. Michael’s Cemetery featured in the Summer edition of Southern Exposure, a quarterly newsletter of South Bethlehem Historical Society written by Rosemary Buffington
Click the link below to read and article featured in the Fall edition of Southern Exposure about a receipt signed by Rev. Philip McEnroe dated 1911
Click the link below to read an article about St. Michael’s Cemetery featured in the most recent edition of Southern Exposure
Some pictures from the All Souls Mass celebrated at St. Michael’s Cemetery on Saturday, November 4th